How to take underwater pictures with your iPhone like a pro

Your next summer vacations are just around the corner and chances are that you are already dreaming about the perfect selfies that you are going to post on your Instagram feed. When it comes to underwater photography, the first thing that jumps into everybody’s minds is the Go Pro camera, however, if you only use this type of gear once a year when it’s vacation time, taking underwater pictures with your iPhone is the best option if you want to have high-quality memories without breaking the bank.

In this guide, we will explain step by step how you can take amazing underwater pictures with your phone by simply buying inexpensive accessories and following our little tricks and tips. You don’t believe us? check our latest underwater pictures that we took with an iPhone 8 during our last trip to Thailand!

1.Choose the best underwater case that suits your needs

Wait, wasn’t the iPhone IP67 certificated? While the International Protection (IP) marking  states that iPhone’s latest models are protected from dust and up to 1 meter / 3.3 feet of immersion in water, the truth is that this does not mean that the phones are protected from salt water, sand, or the chemicals that are often used to keep pools clean. Because of this, your best option is to buy an underwater case for your iPhone and, luckily, you have many options to choose from:

Waterproof pouches: best budget-friendly option

A waterproof pouch to take underwater pictures with your iPhone
Joto waterproof pouch is Amazon’s bestseller

By far, waterproof pouches are the most affordable way of taking underwater pictures with an iPhone, in fact, the best thing about this accessory is that it suits different types of smartphones from different companies. Because of how simple this product is, we can’t recommend a particular brand since most of them will do the job, but when in doubt, we always advise to go with Amazon’s choice

PROS OF WATERPROOF POUCHES
CONS OF WATERPROOF POUCHES
  • Around $7, this is the best budget-friendly way of taking pictures underwater
  • Since most of the phones fit waterproof pouches, you won’t have to buy a new case if you change your smartphone
  • Depending on the size of your phone, most of the pouches allow you to fit a personal document inside like your ID or credit card
  • The quality of the pictures is compromised. Of the three options that we are presenting on this guide, this is the worst when it comes to resolution
  • The pouch won’t be able to handle the pressure of the water if you use it for diving
  • You won’t be able to use the touch screen while on the water

Waterproof cases for iPhone: best for taking underwater pictures

LifeProof waterproof iPhone case
LifeProof waterproof iPhone case for underwater pictures

For the same amount of money that you could easily spend in a regular case for your iPhone, you can instead choose to buy a waterproof one. This cases will not only give you wonderful underwater pictures without losing the camera quality (remember what made you buy an iPhone in the first place?), but they also can be used as a great every-day case that will protect your phone from drops.

There are several brands offering this type of cases in a wide range of prices. According to your iPhone model, these are the ones that we recommend you the most:

PROS OF WATERPROOF CASES FOR IPHONE:
CONS OF WATERPROOF CASES FOR IPHONE:
  • You can use them as a daily case
  • The quality of your pictures will remain the same as if you weren’t using one
  • Cost the same than a regular case
  • The waterproof cases are shockproof too and can also protect your phone from dust, sand and oils  
  • While these cases can be submerged for 2 mt / 6.6 ft, it won’t hold scuba diving
  • The touch screen does not work underwater

Waterproof housing for iPhone: best for scuba diving

Proshot iPhone housing for scuba diving with your iPhone

If you are looking for something more exciting than your typical summer snorkeling then a waterproof housing is the ally that you are needing for the scuba diving adventure of your life. Since these accessories are specifically designed for scuba diving, the housing comes with buttons that allow you to use your screen underwater, and it will resist the pressure of the water.

This type of housing is not that common as the regular waterproof cases so there are not many brands in the market that offer them. Depending on which iPhone you are using, we advise you to check for these scuba diving housing for your phone:

PROS OF WATERPROOF HOUSING FOR IPHONE:
CONS OF WATERPROOF HOUSING FOR IPHONE:
  • It can be used for scuba diving
  • It offers the maximum protection for your phone
  • Thanks to the buttons that are build in, you can use your screen underwater 
  • You can’t use it as a daily case because the housing blocks the touch screen
  • It is more expensive than a waterproof case

2. Test your waterproof case before using it

While we recommend you the best waterproof cases for iPhone available on the market, the truth is that things can go wrong sometimes and we are sure that you don’t want to risk a phone that has costed you +$800. Because of this, we suggest you taking these 4 easy steps to check that your case is working well before taking it to your next adventure:

  1. Fill your waterproof case with toilet paper
  2. Make sure that the case is totally sealed and put it in a water recipient 
  3. Put weigh over the case and leave it there for an hour 
  4. Take the case out of the water, make sure it is dry and open it. If the paper is not wet, congratulations… you are ready to take unbelievable pictures of your holidays!

Another safety precaution to keep in mind is that accidents can happen and you can always drop your phone in the water so, if your waterproof case doesn’t come with one, it is always a wise idea to spend some extra bucks in a float strap for your phone

3. Change your screen settings and prepare your phone

If you got an underwater pouch or case you won’t be able to use your screen once you go inside the water. While it is true that the diving housing for your phone will come with buttons, don’t expect to use them as if you were in dry conditions.

Because of this, you need to configure some special settings and take into consideration these things before jumping to the ocean with your iPhone:

  1. Make sure that your screen will remain turned on since you won’t be able to enter your password or fingerprint once it turns off. For this, go to Settings / Display & Brightness / Auto Lock / Never.
  2. Open the camera and select the camera mode that you will be using before going into the water
  3. You will need to use the volume buttons to capture photos so make sure that you feel comfortable shooting with them
  4. Put your iPhone in airplane mode to avoid receiving text messages while you are shooting underwater 

4. Try these 5 tips to get better underwater pictures with your iPhone

Now that you have picked the best underwater case that suits your needs and changed the settings of your iPhone, it is time to start collecting memories of your summer trip. In order to achieve the best underwater picture, here are some tricks and tips that you should follow:

  1. Keep the camera button, aka volume button, pressed so you can shoot in burst mode. Burst mode will take continuous pictures and let you choose later which one is the best. 
  2. Get close to your subject. Whether you are taking pictures of a dolphin or your best friend, getting as close as you can to your subject will mantain the color, contrast, and sharpness of your pictures.
  3. Avoid taking underwater pictures from above. Even if you are just snorkeling, get to the eye level of your subject or underneath it to capture a more intimate picture that will make the viewer feel in the water with you.
  4. Red is the first color to be lost when descending the water. To compensate this and bring the correct colors to your pictures, you should consider investing in a red lens. While it is true that there aren’t many red lenses for cellphone photography, the CamDive Red Diving Filter will fit Meikon, Haweel, and Watershot Pro diving cases.  
  5. Make sure that your phone is fully charged. While this might be a silly recommendation, you should remember that you will have the auto lock setting of the screen deactivated which means that your iPhone will consume much more energy than usual. If you are planning a long day in the water, it is best to have in hand a wireless power bank that let you charge your phone without risking your device by opening the waterproof case. 
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