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Are MacBooks Waterproof? The Ultimate Guide to Water Resistance and Protection

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Last updated: September 6, 2023

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Apple has plenty of water-resistant devices, but are MacBooks waterproof? Contrary to what some might believe, MacBooks are not designed to resist or repel water. No MacBook model is water-resistant or waterproof, implying their vulnerability to liquid damage.

In this ultimate guide, I’ll explore the world of MacBook water protection and share everything you need to know about water resistance and protection with real-life experiences, expert tips, and more to protect your device against water damage.

Waterproof vs. Water-Resistant

Before diving into the details, it’s crucial to highlight the difference between waterproof and water-resistant.

A water-resistant device is designed to resist the penetration of water to some degree but not entirely. It can usually withstand water splashes, rain, or brief accidental water exposure. But prolonged exposure can result in damage.

Alternatively, a waterproof device can completely withstand water exposure to certain extents, often specified by the manufacturer. This means the device can be submerged in water for certain periods or to certain depths without suffering damage.

So, Are MacBooks Waterproof?

Well, no, MacBooks are not waterproof. Not even water-resistant.

Apple doesn’t advertise any of its MacBook models as either water-resistant or waterproof. It means any exposure to liquid can potentially cause damage.

If you’ve accidentally spilled water on your MacBook, it’s best to immediately turn it off, unplug all external power sources, and seek professional assistance.

Part 1: Unraveling the Water Resistance of MacBook Models

Each MacBook model has unique features, but how do they fare in terms of water resistance? Let’s take a closer look at the different models and their water-handling capabilities.

1. MacBook Air

macbook air

The MacBook Air is renowned for its thin and lightweight design. However, this sleek model does not inherently offer any specific water resistance. Instead, Apple has improved certain elements of its design over the years to provide some level of protection against liquid damage.

One such improvement is the introduction of the Magic Keyboard. The previous butterfly keyboard mechanism was notorious for its susceptibility to debris and liquid ingress. The Magic Keyboard, on the other hand, has a more robust design that offers increased protection against accidental spills.

2. MacBook Pro

macbook pro 1

The MacBook Pro series, known for its high-end specs and performance, also does not prioritize water resistance in its design. Nevertheless, similar to the MacBook Air, Apple has made subtle changes to the MacBook Pro design to improve its resistance to minor liquid spills.

For instance, the upgraded keyboards and tighter construction may afford some level of protection against minor splashes or spills. However, these improvements should not be misconstrued as an invitation to use the device in wet or humid environments.

3. MacBook (Retired)

macbook retired 1

The 12-inch MacBook, which was discontinued in 2019, adopted a design similar to its sibling models but with a lower-profile keyboard. Unfortunately, this feature did not confer any additional water resistance to the device.

Much like the other models, any minor protection against liquid damage would have been incidental rather than by design.

Fun Fact: While Apple doesn’t provide official water resistance ratings for MacBooks, some internal components may be coated with protective materials to minimize water damage.

Part 2: What Happens Inside My MacBook When a Spill Occurs?

When a spill occurs on your MacBook, several things can happen, depending on the nature and amount of the liquid and where exactly the spill occurred.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s consider the scenario where water is spilled on the keyboard of the laptop.

  1. ⚡ Immediate Short Circuit: The most immediate risk when you spill a liquid on your MacBook is a short circuit. Electronics are designed to have electricity flow in very specific paths. When a conductive liquid like water is introduced, it can create new paths for electric flow, causing components to receive electrical currents they’re not designed to handle, which can damage them.
  2. 🍂 Corrosion: If the MacBook is not properly cleaned after a spill, the liquid can cause corrosion over time. Water contains minerals and other impurities that can react with the metals on the MacBook’s circuit board, causing the metal to degrade, breaking the electrical connections, and rendering the device unusable.
  3. 💥 Damage to Components: Besides the circuit board, a liquid spill can damage many other components in a MacBook. It can damage the keyboard by interfering with the electrical contacts in the keys. It can also affect the battery, as it contains electrical circuits that can short out when exposed to water. The hard drive or SSD, RAM, and processor are also at risk, as they all have electrical components that a spill can damage.
  4. 💻 Damage to the Screen: The MacBook’s screen can also be damaged if liquid gets inside it. Liquid can cause the layers of the screen to separate, or it can damage the LCD/LED panel, causing discoloration, dead pixels, or other display issues.
  5. 🔥 Potential Thermal Issues: If the liquid causes a short that leads to components overheating or interferes with the MacBook’s cooling system (such as by clogging fans), it could lead to thermal issues. These could cause the MacBook to overheat, shut down to protect itself, or damage components from the heat.
  6. 🔊 Speaker and Microphone Damage: A water spill can also damage speakers and microphones on your Mac as they are designed to interact with air, not liquid. If liquid gets into the speaker or microphone, it can interfere with the vibrations that produce or receive sound, potentially damaging these components, reducing their sound quality, or causing the no sound on MacBook error.

Part 3: Decoding Third-Party Water Resistance Tests

MacBook water resistance has been a topic of interest, leading to numerous independent tests conducted to determine the truth. In order to provide you with valuable insights, I have carefully analyzed some of the most popular tests and their findings:

1. Spill Tests

spill test on laptop

The first test involves simulating spills of various liquids, such as coffee, soda, or water, onto MacBooks. Many users have performed this test to check if a MacBook can survive minor spills. This test has revealed that MacBooks can often survive minor spills if they are dealt with promptly.

The key factor here is quick action to prevent the liquid from seeping into sensitive components. However, it is important to note that larger spills or delayed reactions can permanently damage the device.

Moreover, the type of liquid spilled also makes a difference in terms of the potential harm it can cause to a MacBook. While pure water may be relatively less harmful, other liquids with additional substances, high conductivity, or sticky residues can pose a greater risk to the device.

So, it’s important to address spills promptly and take appropriate actions to minimize potential damage, regardless of the liquid involved.

2. Submersion Tests

submersion test on laptop

Although submersion tests are more common with iPhones, there are instances of submerging a MacBook into water. In this test, you briefly immerse your MacBook in water to assess its resistance to submersion.

No MacBooks have ever emerged from these tests unscathed. Submerging your Mac in water will damage the display, leading to backlight and flickering issues. In most cases, it will go completely black. The keyboard will also stop working as the water gets into the key components. You won’t be able to turn on your Mac.

MacBooks are not designed or marketed as waterproof or water-resistant devices. So, attempting to submerge a MacBook in water goes against the intended use of the device and could potentially void your warranty. So, I strongly advise you to avoid intentionally submerging your MacBook in water.

Part 4: Real-Life Experiences – Learning from MacBook Users

Nothing beats real-life experiences to understand the impact of water damage on MacBooks. Let’s explore a few case studies to learn valuable lessons:

1. Case Study 1

A photographer accidentally spilled a glass of water on her MacBook Pro. She immediately shut down the device, unplugged it, and allowed it to dry for 72 hours. Fortunately, her MacBook survived with no long-term damage.

glass of water spilled on a laptop

In this case, the photographer demonstrated swift and effective action when faced with water damage to her MacBook Pro. By promptly shutting down the device and disconnecting it from the power source, she minimized the risk of short circuits and further damage to the internal components.

Allowing the MacBook Pro to dry for an extended period of 72 hours was a wise decision, as it provided ample time for the water to evaporate and any moisture to dissipate. As a result, the MacBook Pro emerged unscathed and continued to function without any long-term issues.

2. Case Study 2

A college student left his MacBook Air in his backpack during a rainstorm. Water seeped into the bag, causing damage to the MacBook’s internal components. The device required professional repairs, which cost nearly as much as purchasing a new MacBook.

laptop in a backpack

In this scenario, the college student, unfortunately, experienced the consequences of not taking immediate and appropriate action after water exposure. Leaving the MacBook Air in the backpack during a rainstorm allowed water to seep into the device, leading to damage to its internal components.

Due to the severity of the damage, the MacBook Air required professional repairs, which incurred significant costs. The repair expenses nearly matched the price of purchasing a new MacBook, highlighting the financial impact of neglecting to address water damage promptly.

Lesson Learned: Speed and appropriate action are critical when dealing with water-damaged MacBooks. Time is of the essence when water comes into contact with electronic devices, as moisture can cause short circuits and irreparable damage to the delicate internal components.

Part 5: Expert Tips for Protecting Your MacBook

Safeguard your MacBook from water damage with these expert tips:

  1. 💼 Invest in a Protective Case: A water-resistant case or cover can shield your MacBook from spills, splashes, or rain. Top-rated options include EooCoo MacBook Air Case, known for its minimalistic design and reliable protection, and SUPCASE Unicorn Beetle Case for MacBook, which boasts a rugged build and superior water resistance.
  2. ⌨️ Accessorize with Keyboard Covers and Port Protectors: Prevent liquid ingress by using a keyboard cover like CaseBuy Premium Ultra Thin Keyboard Cover, which offers a snug fit and excellent protection, and port protectors such as Gavemi Thunderbolt Port Protectors, designed to keep dust and moisture out of your MacBook’s ports.
  3. 💧 Water-Resistant Skins: Skins such as MOSISO MacBook Hard Shell and RICHEN Laptop Notebook Skin Sticker provide an extra layer of protection against spills and splashes while maintaining your MacBook’s sleek design. These skins are typically easy to apply and remove.
  4. ☔️ Beware of Environmental Factors: Avoid using your MacBook in humid or damp environments, such as saunas or steamy bathrooms. If unavoidable, use a protective case and ensure proper ventilation.
  5. 🔧 Regular Maintenance and Care: Regular Mac maintenance is crucial. So, clean your MacBook using a soft, lint-free cloth dampened with water or isopropyl alcohol. Store it in a dry and well-ventilated area to minimize the risk of water damage. Regularly inspect your MacBook for signs of moisture ingress, and take action if needed.
  6. 🔋 Carry a Backup Power Source: In case of water exposure, you may need to shut down your MacBook immediately. Carrying a backup power source, like a portable charger, ensures you can continue working on another device while your MacBook dries out.
  7. 🎒 Use a Water-Resistant Bag: Invest in a water-resistant laptop bag, like the Kinmac 360° Protective Water Resistant Laptop Sleeve, or backpack to shield your MacBook from rain or accidental spills during your travels. Look for options with padded compartments and sturdy zippers for added protection.
  8. 🚑 Plan for Emergencies: Familiarize yourself with local Apple-authorized service providers or repair centers in your travel destination, just in case your MacBook needs professional help while traveling.

While these solutions offer additional protection, they may not be foolproof and should not replace proper care and precautions.

Part 6: Evaluating Repair Options for Water-Damaged MacBooks

When your MacBook encounters water damage, you’re in a situation that requires immediate attention. The damage incurred can range from minor issues, like malfunctioning keys, to severe problems, like a completely unresponsive device.

When it comes to rectifying this, you have several options to consider. This part of our guide focuses on evaluating the two main paths you could take: professional repair services and do-it-yourself (DIY) repair techniques.

1. Apple Authorized Repair Services

The first option, and often the most reliable, is to reach out to Apple or an authorized Apple repair center. These services have trained professionals who are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to diagnose and fix your MacBook. They can handle various levels of water damage and provide a comprehensive solution.

However, be prepared for potentially high repair costs. Depending on the severity of the damage, you could be charged from a few hundred to over a thousand dollars.

It’s also important to remember that water damage is typically not covered under Apple’s standard warranty, so unless you have AppleCare+ with accidental damage coverage, you’ll likely be footing the bill.

2. DIY Repair Techniques

For those who are tech-savvy or are willing to take on the risk, there are DIY repair techniques that you could try.

One common method involves using desiccants like silica gel packets or uncooked rice to dry out the MacBook. This approach relies on the absorbent nature of these materials to draw out the moisture from the device.

However, proceed with caution if you decide to take this route. Improper handling could lead to more damage, and the efficacy of these methods isn’t guaranteed. In fact, rice can often leave behind dust and debris that might cause further harm.

Moreover, it’s critical to understand that attempting DIY repairs could void your Apple warranty if it’s still active. This could complicate matters if you need professional help later on.

Part 7: Data Recovery and the Importance of Backups

When dealing with water-damaged MacBooks, securing and recovering your data should be a top priority. Water damage can lead to data loss, so it’s crucial to have a plan in place to recover the valuable information stored on your MacBook.

Below, I have shared three primary methods for data recovery: regular backups, data recovery software, and professional data recovery services.

1. Regular Backups

regular data backup

One of the most proactive measures you can take to safeguard your data is to maintain regular data backups on Mac.

You can achieve this on a MacBook using Apple’s built-in backup solution, Time Machine. This software automatically backs up your entire system, including documents, music, photos, and system files, to an external hard drive. You can then restore individual files or your entire system from these backups.

Alternatively, you can use cloud-based services like iCloud, Dropbox, or Google Drive for offsite backup. These platforms automatically sync your files to the cloud, allowing you to access your data from anywhere and restore it to your device in the event of water damage or other issues.

2. Data Recovery Software

If you didn’t have a recent backup at the time of the water damage, all is not lost. Several data recovery software options can help retrieve lost files.

Applications like FonePaw and Disk Drill are renowned for their success in data recovery. FonePaw boasts a high recovery success rate and can recover a variety of file types, while Disk Drill is lauded for its user-friendly interface and powerful recovery tools.

These programs scan your MacBook’s hard drive for recoverable files and allow you to restore them. However, it’s essential to remember the success of software recovery largely depends on the severity of the damage and how quickly the recovery process begins after the incident.

3. Professional Data Recovery

If DIY data recovery methods prove unsuccessful, or if your MacBook’s hard drive is physically damaged, it may be time to enlist the help of professional data recovery specialists.

These experts have advanced tools and specialized knowledge to recover data from damaged devices. They can often retrieve data in situations where software solutions fail. However, this service can be quite expensive, and there’s no guarantee of successful recovery, especially in cases of severe water damage.

Part 8: Exploring Insurance and Warranties

Investing in additional insurance or warranty coverage can be a strategic decision to protect your Mac against accidental damage.

Not only can these options offer financial protection, but they also provide peace of mind knowing that your device is covered in case of unforeseen circumstances like water damage or other accidents.

There are two primary types of protection you can consider: AppleCare+ and third-party insurance.

1. AppleCare+

apple care extended warranty

AppleCare+ is Apple’s extended warranty plan that goes beyond the standard one-year warranty provided with your MacBook.

Unlike the standard warranty, AppleCare+ covers up to two incidents of accidental damage every 12 months, though a deductible applies for each incident. This coverage includes water damage, a common yet potentially costly issue.

While AppleCare+ comes with an additional cost, it can save you a significant amount in repair fees in case of accidental damage. The service also includes 24/7 priority access to Apple experts via chat or phone, which can be particularly helpful in crisis situations.

2. Third-Party Insurance

While AppleCare+ is popular among MacBook users, third-party insurance can also be viable. Companies such as Worth Ave. Group and Securranty offer insurance plans specifically designed for electronic devices. These plans often cover a broad range of potential issues, including water damage.

What makes third-party insurance appealing is that it can offer more flexibility than AppleCare+. For instance, these plans might cover theft or loss, something that AppleCare+ does not include.

Additionally, depending on the provider, third-party insurance may offer coverage for a longer period than AppleCare+ does. However, it’s essential to read the fine print of these policies and understand what is and isn’t covered.

Final Thoughts

While MacBooks may survive minor water exposure, they are not designed to be waterproof. As a MacBook owner, it’s crucial to take precautions, invest in protective accessories, and know how to respond in case of accidents. Here’s what you can do to protect your MacBook and data:

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Are all Apple devices waterproof?

    No, not all Apple devices are waterproof. While Apple has made advancements in making some of its devices water-resistant, no Apple product is waterproof. Water resistance indicates that a device can withstand exposure to moisture or spills and splashes to a certain extent, but it does not guarantee protection against excessive water damage.

  2. Which Apple devices are water-resistant?

    Some water-resistant Apple devices include iPhone SE, iPhone 7, and later models. AirPods Pro and wired headphones by Apple are also water-resistant. Other water-resistant Apple devices include AirTags, Apple Watch Series 2 or later, and HomePod mini speakers.

  3. Which Apple devices are not water-resistant?

    The Apple devices that are not water-resistant include MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, and iMac. Other non-water-resistant Apple devices include iPad, iPad mini, iPad Pro, Apple Pencils, AirPods 1st and 2nd generations, AirPods Max, Apple Magic Keyboards, iPhone 6 and earlier, iPods, Apple Watch 1st generation and Series 1, Apple TV and TV remotes, and HomePod speakers.

  4. Does Apple’s standard warranty cover water damage?

    No, Apple’s standard warranty does not cover water damage. The standard warranty, known as Apple’s Limited Warranty, typically covers manufacturing defects and hardware failures that occur under normal use. However, Apple also offers an AppleCare+ extended warranty program that provides additional coverage for accidental damage, including water damage.

  5. Can a MacBook survive a coffee spill?

    Whether a MacBook can survive a coffee spill depends on the extent of the spill. Coffee contains substances that can harm electronic devices, such as sugar and acids. When liquid enters a MacBook, it can potentially cause corrosion or short circuits, leading to malfunctioning or permanent damage.

Hashir Ibrahim

Author

I'm Hashir, a tech journalist with a decade of experience. My work has been featured in some of the top tech publications like MakeUseOf and MakeTechEasier. I have a bachelor's degree in IT, a master's in cybersecurity, and extensive knowledge of Apple hardware, specifically MacBooks. As the senior writer at MacBook Journal, I write in depth guides that help you solve any issues you have with your mac and unbiased reviews that help you make the right buying decisions.

Ojash

Reviewer

Hi there! I'm Ojash, a tech journalist with over a decade of experience in the industry. I've had the privilege of contributing to some of the world's largest tech publications, making my mark as a respected Mac expert. My passion lies in exploring, using, and writing about MacBooks, and I enjoy sharing my expertise to help others make informed decisions and get the most out of their MacBook experience. Join me as we delve into the fascinating world of MacBooks together!

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