Water and electricity are not good bedfellows, and it's generally not wise to get digital devices wet. But what would happen if you did get water on your iPad?
The answer is not immediately obvious, mainly because Apple is cagey about the water protection offered by its iPads. Look up the specs of the iPhone 11 on Apple's website and you'll see, fifth on the list, the IP68 rating of which the company is justifiably proud. Look up the same page for the iPad mini or iPad Pro and you won't see any IP rating at all, or any reference to performance in liquid intrusion tests.
In this article we investigate the waterproof (or rather water-resistant) credentials of the current and recent iPad models. After this we offer a selection of iPad cases that are designed to protect your tablet from the incursions of harmful liquids.
Are all iPads waterproof?
No. In fact none of them are - at least officially. The reason why no IP ratings (certifying water and dust resistance) are given for the iPads is that the devices are not IP-rated, and make no claims in this area.
In practice this does not necessarily mean that a single drop of water will put your iPad permanently out of action; many parts of an iPad's chassis, such as the screen, are able to resist liquid incursions, whereas it is the apertures (the Lightning, UBS-C and headphone ports, the speaker grills, and the microphones) that are vulnerable. But you should do your best to avoid putting this to the test.
Can I take my iPad swimming, or into the shower?
Absolutely not. We're not sure why you'd want to, to be honest, but if you were tempted to read a book by the swimming pool using the Kindle app on your iPad mini, we'd recommend a waterproof case (see below). Or use an actual Kindle, which is cheaper to replace and in most cases better at dealing with immersion.
Why aren't iPads water-resistant?
We're not sure, and the difference between the unrated iPads and the most recent iPhones, whose IP68 rating is as high as any in the smartphone sector, is stark.
Of course, we're not expected to use our iPads in the same way as our iPhones. The latter go with us wherever we go (within reason), and are liable to be caught in heavy rain, dropped in toilets and dunked in swimming pools when their owners fall in while their teenage daughters laugh; iPads tend to be used in less of a 'portable' way.
But some people use their iPads (particularly the smaller versions) in a reasonably smartphone-ish way, and it's odd that Apple hasn't yet managed to translate the excellent water-resistance of the iPhone into the tablet world.
We'll now move on to a selection of iPad cases that could save your device from a watery grave, but if you'd be interested in related advice for your phone, take a look at Is my iPhone waterproof? For guidance on ways to save the day when the water has claimed a victim, read How to dry out a wet iPhone, much of which applies to iPads too.
Water-resistant iPad cases
Betron Waterproof Carry Case Sleeve Cover
• Suitable for: Any iPad up to 10in
This is an affordable option that the maker says will fit any iPad (or similar tablets by other manufacturers) up to a 10in diagonal. That means, of the current range, only the iPad mini is supported - the standard 2019 iPad is 10.2in, and we wouldn't risk it in case you can't close the opening - but you'll be use it with a wide range of older models such as the iPad 9.7in from 2017 or 2018 and the old 9.7in iPad Pro.
There's a detachable lanyard so you can hang the iPad round your neck while rock-pooling or whatever you've got planned.
Catalyst Waterproof Cases
• RRP: From €109.99 (about £94/$122)
• Buy from Amazon
• Suitable for: All iPads
Catalyst's cases are rated at IP68, which is about as good as it gets for consumer products. They're not cheap, but if they save your iPad from a water catastrophe it'll be well worth the money.
The latest model is for the iPad 10.2in. It comes in three colours: black, red and green. But it's currently available for pre-order only.
kwmobile Universal Waterproof Tablet Pouch
• Suitable for: All except iPad mini and iPad Pro 12.9in
Measuring 25.5 x 20.5cm, this see-through pouch is suitable for iPads between 9.7in and 11in in size - which means anything except the minis and the larger iPad Pro. You can use a touchscreen through the material and both front and back are transparent, so you can take photos too.
• Suitable for: All tablets
The DryCase is a clear waterproof bag that's vacuum-sealed; you use the hand-pump to remove air from the bag, then the tight seal keeps it dry even when underwater. It's completely usable inside the bag, and comes with a neoprene armband.
The case doesn't offer much physical protection, but it's easy to use and keeps your iPad safe from sand and water.