Earlier this month, we passed along a rumor stating that the 2019 Apple iPhone XI line will feature a new Underwater Mode that would allow users to snap pictures and navigate the screen even with the phone submerged in water. The original rumor mentioned that the Underwater Mode would be patented, and today the actual patent application was released by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO, via AppleInsider).
Submersible Electronic Devices With Imaging Capabilities, and mentions a device, like an iPhone, that has the capability to capture images. This device includes an ambient light sensor to determine the lighting underwater. The device also features an image sensor to capture pictures, and sports circuitry designed to measure the depth of the image sensor. Information about the depth of the image sensor and the ambient underwater lighting would be used to adjust the color balance of an underwater photograph. Photos taken underwater by a camera that doesn't include the patented features could result end up with a "undesired greenish color cast," Apple says in the patent application.The application is titled
According to reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, both the Apple iPhone XI Max and iPhone XI will feature a triple-camera setup on back, The third camera will be a Time-of-Flight (ToF) sensor that measures how long it takes for an infrared light emitted from the camera to bounce off a subject and return to the camera. This will result in more accurate depth information that could be used for a rear-facing Face ID feature, improved bokeh effects and more AR functionality.
Underwater Mode wouldn't be possible without the iPhone's Ingress Protection rating
Of course, we wouldn't even be writing about an Underwater Mode if the iPhone didn't include an Ingress Protection (IP) rating. Both the iPhone XI and iPhone XI Max will most likely continue to sport an IP68 rating. This means that both models are protected from dust, and can be submerged to a depth of nearly five feet for as long as 30 minutes. At this point, with the original rumor singling out the iPhone XI and iPhone XI Max, it is not certain whether Underwater Mode will be found on the iPhone XR (2019). If all things stay the same, the latter would keep its predecessor's IP67 rating that allows a phone to be submerged to a distance of a bit over three feet for up to 30 minutes. The 2019 iPhones most likely won't be unveiled until this coming September.
Apple first filed the application for its patent in September 2017. The patent application number is 20190098179. If the Underwater Mode doesn't make it to the upcoming 2019 iPhone models, it would seem a sure bet for 2020.