How to take underwater pictures with iPhone X and iPhone 8

How to take underwater pictures with iPhone X and iPhone 8

diver takes a selfie with a school of fish. - underwater pictures on iPhone
These are not bubbles. These are fish.

Who wouldn’t love a good soak in the beach with loved ones? It would be even ten times better if you can take underwater pictures on your iPhone and immortalize the memories. 

Imagine not missing any fun moment, including those in the water… if only you had a water-resistant phone.

Now, if you own an iPhone X or iPhone 8, then you’re in luck—they are water-resistant. 

However, there are limitations to it. 

In this article, we listed some tips on how you can take underwater pictures with iPhone X and iPhone 8.

What to know about taking underwater pictures with iPhone

Before you run off and live your Little Mermaid or Aquaman moment, you should know a few things about your iPhone’s water-resistance. 

You can take photos underwater with it, alright—but there are depth and time limits. 

iPhone X and iPhone 8: Waterproof or Water-resistant?

iPhone X dunked in water. - underwater pictures on iPhone
Is your iPhone X or iPhone 8 really waterproof?

First, let’s get the confusion out of the way. 

Knowing the difference between waterproof and water-resistant is important if you want to take underwater pictures on iPhone. Simply assuming that dunking your phone into the water because it’s “water-resistant” might damage your phone. 

Waterproof means it’s okay to submerge a smartphone in water for a long time. On the other hand, water-resistant means a smartphone can only withstand being exposed to water or being penetrated by water.

So, with a water-resistant smartphone, you can bring it to the bathroom, the kitchen, etc. because it’s robust against water droplets. 

You can also take pictures even if there’s a drizzle or if you’re at the front row watching water sports. 

Moreover, if a smartphone is water-resistant, it can also endure submerged underwater—but only at a certain depth and not for more than the required minutes. 

The IP rating for water-resistance in smartphones

iPhone submerged in a bowl of water and ice. - underwater pictures on iPhone
IEC rates the water-resistance of smartphones, selfie sticks, lenses, and other gadgets.

The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) rates gadgets according to their durability against external elements. 

Under their rating standard, the IEC 60529, they give devices such as smartphones an Ingress Protection (IP) rating for their ability to withstand dust, dirt, and water. 

The IP rating consists of:

  • a first number, which signifies its resistance against foreign bodies such as dust or dirt.
  • and a second number, which signifies its resistance against moisture intrusion. 

For the first number, IEC can give a gadget the highest rating of 6; for the second number, they can give the highest rating of 8. 

What are the IP ratings of the iPhone X and the iPhone 8?

iPhone at the bottom of a blue pool floor. - underwater pictures on iPhone
iPhone X and iPhone 8 are both rated IP67 by the IEC.

Now, both the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 have an IP rating of IP67. That means you can submerge them for no more than 1 meter and no longer than half an hour. 

So, to be clear, both the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 are only water-resistant. They are not waterproof, which means it is invincible against water.

Water repellent, meanwhile, means water can’t easily penetrate a gadget, probably due to a layer of protection. 

Your iPhone X or iPhone 8 can perfectly handle water droplets or spraying water.

And since they are rated 7 by the IEC, they can handle pressurized water. However, phone experts advise users not to risk it, just to be sure. 

How to take underwater photos with iPhone X or iPhone 8

Taking underwater pictures on iPhone takes more than having basic photography skills. You also have to spend on some accessories, prepare your camera’s settings, and many more. 

Of course, you should also be wary of the safety measures.

This way, you can safely go home and upload your stunning underwater snapshots to your social media. 

Here’s how to take gorgeous underwater photos with your iPhone.

1. Invest in the right accessories. 

kid taking a selfie underwater.
Make sure you have the right tools to capture the perfect underwater selfie!

Weeks or months ahead of your underwater photoshoot, we suggest you shop for the right accessories.

These will enhance your photography session and even save you time during the shoot. 

Of course, ensure they’re all waterproof and not just water-resistant (you already know the difference, right?).

Make sure of this because some products in Amazon are marketed as waterproof but they’re just really water-resistant. 

A waterproof case. 

iPhone waterproof case. - underwater pictures on iPhone
Give your water-resistant phone an extra layer of protection.

Even the iPhone X and the iPhone 8 can withstand water penetration, you can’t risk entirely submerging it in saltwater or ocean water.

So, to be safe, invest in a robust waterproof case. 

You can find slim and rugged waterproof iPhone cases in the marketplace today. They’re usually anti-scratch and made of silicone and rubber grips. 

You can also find cases that allow you to tap on your camera’s shutter button—even with the casing enclosing it. 

Albeit they are pricey, since some cases can cost up to $130, adventure addicts say they’re worth it. 

Related: How to Photograph Moving Water on iPhone: Complete Guide

A waterproof selfie stick. 

diver taking a selfie with a school of fish using a selfie-stick and iPhone - underwater pictures on iPhone
You can find selfie sticks with IP ratings as high as IP66.

Of course, you should never miss the opportunity to take a good selfie. Don’t miss this moment by investing in a good waterproof selfie stick!

Look for rugged waterproof selfie sticks for iPhones that have wireless remote shutters. Watch out for selfie sticks marketed as waterproof, though—they are only splash-resistant, which is also known as water-resistant. 

Remember, always check the IP rating.

Additionally, a selfie stick will help increase stability when you’re recording videos. 

As for image stabilization, you won’t have to worry about that because your iPhone X or iPhone 8 has Optical Image Stabilization (OIS). 

Clip-on lenses for iPhone. 

iPhone and two clip-on lenses.
Take pics of fish using fish-eye lenses.

We also suggest you consider adding clip-on lenses such as a clip-on fisheye lens. These will add variety to your photos, particularly if you’re shooting vibrant marine life or your friends. 

You can find some iPhone kits that include waterproof cases and clip-on lenses. The Arblove kit, for instance, has an IP54 case with three lenses (fish-eye, macro, and wide-angle). 

The macro lens will especially help you capture beautiful close-up photos of colorful fish. Meanwhile, the wide-angle lens will add more scenes and include more subjects to your iPhone’s normal Field of View (FOV).

Related: iPhone or GoPro photo: Which has the best quality?

2. Take the necessary safety measures.

surfer wearing a rash guard with a surfboard on her head.
Wear the right clothes and blend in with the rest of the marine creatures.

Also, this might already be obvious but this is for safety purposes. You should wear tight clothing such as a rash guard, which is fine to wear in the sea or in the pool. 

Wearing loose clothing might endanger you, especially if you’re taking photos in open waters. You have to watch out for the sharp rocks that might snaggle your clothing. 

Meanwhile, if you’re taking photos in the pool, you can take advantage of the nice reflective surface of the pool floor. However, be sure to apply sunscreen to avoid sunburns, even if you’re wearing a rash guard. 

Another tip is to bring along eyedrops, in case your eyes start to get dry and irritated. 

3. Know your camera commands besides tapping the shutter button. 

iPhone mounted on a tripod.
There are other ways to capture a photo without tapping the shutter button.

Even if you can tap on the shutter button with the case on, you should still know the other capture commands… You’ll never know when an emergency arises, which might cause your shutter button to malfunction.

When you’re already in the water, you can try pressing your Volume Up button to capture underwater pictures on iPhone. The same goes for recording a video. 

You can use your selfie stick’s shutter button or its remote shutter if it’s also waterproof.

4. Fully charge your iPhone the night before your photoshoot.

guy taking a photo of a coral on the white sand beach.
Trial and error: Fully charge your iPhone so you can take multiple photos.

Your iPhone can’t operate on a nearly empty stomach—so you have to fully charge it the night before your photo-taking session. 

Take note, you might not get perfect pics the first time. There will be roadblocks such as dim lighting. So, you will probably have several tries before you get the awesome underwater pictures on iPhone. 

Obviously, this might consume your battery faster. Therefore, make sure your iPhone is up for that task by fully charging its battery. 

On your way to the beach or the pool, you can also turn on the Airplane Mode to save your battery’s power.

As for recharging, Apple says you should wait and let your iPhone dry first for several hours before recharging it. 

Related: How to Take Amazing Beach Pictures with an iPhone

5. Shoot with the right settings, mode, resolution, filter, etc. 

You won’t take a good photo from the first try. However, you can avoid taking ugly photos by preparing your iPhone camera’s settings ahead of your photoshoot. 

If you’re not using any other third-party camera app and just your iPhone camera, follow these tips. 

Underwater portrait pictures on iPhone

selfie of a diver wearing goggles
Use portrait mode to give the right depth to your photos.
  • For taking underwater portrait photos of your friends or selfies, you can use the Portrait Mode. 
  • The Portrait Mode will help highlight the focus on the subject better, which is quite hard to do underwater. 
  • It will also help if you go closer to take their photo, so you can get more sharp details instead of zooming in. 
  • We don’t suggest zooming in the subject because this will reduce the resolution of your photo. Your iPhone uses digital zoom, which is known for producing poor quality photos. 

Related: Why is there a glare on my iPhone camera and how to remove it?

Photos of waves and water splashes on the shore 

breaking waves
Natural light is the key to taking stunning photos of breaking waves.
  • Learn how to use sunlight. Start taking photos in the morning to utilize natural light. 
  • The light that passes through big waves and splashes have that distinct look, which no artificial filter from software can replicate. 
  • Don’t use flash since it might wash out the natural color of the subject or the scenery. 
  • Capture the “paused” motion of the waves that crash against the shore. These waves, when you capture them at the right time, take beautiful shapes such as clouds. 

Photos of marine life

close-up underwater photo of a shy turtle.
The secret to taking good marine life photos is getting close to them.
  • First, make sure to study the marine creatures’ behavior in the area you’re planning to explore. 
  • Next, buy the right clothing in the appropriate hue and material. You have to blend in their environment, so you won’t scare them. You might also look like dinner to predators, so you should be wary of that as well.
  • Never use flash. Besides distorting the color, you might also shock or scare the fish or the marine mammal. 
  • Don’t hesitate to move closer to the subject. If you have an extra lens on your iPhone that uses optical zoom, then we suggest you use that. 
  • If you are taking photos of fish or mammals that swim fast, use the Burst mode to capture their movements. 

6. Try different POVs for variety. 

On social media, photos and videos are a hit— especially underwater snapshots and clips. 

If you want to impress your friends, colleagues, or followers, try taking photos from different points of view. 

For instance, you can take pics from an eye-level POV, so your audience can feel like they’re in the water, too. 

You can also take photos from a top view, particularly if you’re above a vibrant coral bed or a school of fish. 

Try not to go deeper though, even if you have a waterproof case. 

7. Take pictures at the right time of the day. 

Diver snorkeling in clear waters.
Mid-mornings and lunchtime are the best time periods for taking underwater photos.

The right timeframe will assist you to capture clearer, crisper photos. 

Professional photographers suggest you take pictures between 10 am and 3 pm, where the sun is the highest. 

When taking pictures in open waters or underwater, you might encounter murkiness and dim lighting. So, you have to make the most out of your time. 

Seasoned photographers also advise newbies to take photos with the sun behind them. This way, your subject will receive the right amount of light. 

The future of underwater photography for the iPhone

Photo of a goggle in ocean with a background of greenery
Underwater photography settings in the iPhone are the anticipated game-changer.

Recently this year, it’s been rumored that Apple is interested in making underwater photography better for its users.

Apparently, they are making a patent app, which aims to solve the dilemmas of taking underwater photos using the iPhone. These issues include the subject’s visibility to the camera and poor lighting. 

The app will help the iPhone camera detect if it’s being used underwater. As a result, the settings will automatically change to “underwater photo mode”. 

However, this is only a rumor yet. Apple hasn’t announced it publicly.

In the meantime, you can make the most out of your iPhone X or iPhone 8 for now. Remember to invest in a robust waterproof case if you’re being serious about underwater photography. 


Now that you know the limits and the necessary preparations, it’s time for you to do the first step we listed in this article. 

Once you’re done preparing, you can get creative with taking underwater photos—as long as you follow 1 meter and 30-minute rule.