One undeniable fact about wearables is that they are always exposed to moisture/water based on their location (the wrist). This makes it very necessary to know your wearable rating before hitting the road with it. Recently, Samsung unveiled the Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro which are both wearables, the former a smartwatch while the latter is a fitness tracker. Packed with everyday health and fitness features, these wearables assist users with everyday activities like swimming and the likes. Both devices have a water resistance rating of 5 ATM under ISO 22810:2010 standard for smartwatches.
Well, many people still don't understand the meaning of these ratings and why ATM water resistance ratings and how it is different from other evaluation standards such as IP ratings. Let's take a look at the exact meaning of IP ratings, ATM ratings, and ISO ratings.
Many users are concerned about the safety and how resistant their device is to occasional downpour, dust or sweating thus many manufacturers tend to stick with IP ratings. However, to have an edge, some manufacturers have gone the extra mile to test their device vulnerability to static pressure when completely submerged in water. Static pressure tests results are measured in ATM (atmospheres) which are then converted to water depth for easy understanding.
The higher the ATM rating, the deeper the device can go under water because one ATM is equal to 10 meters depth of water. Deeper waters have higher static pressure thus if a device is used at depths beyond its ATM rating, it will be exposed to destruction. The table below describes the basic ATM water-resistance levels.
The word "static pressure" has always been used so far and this means that the ATM rating here is for a device that is resting still under water (e.g. if your smartwatch falls into a pool or bowl of water). However, movements under water (such as diving into the water or swimming) increases the pressure thus while a 3 ATM-rated smartwatch could easily endure rain, it will be vulnerable to damage if spattered with a powerful hose.
The letters "IP" means "Ingress Protection" and this water resistance rating was established by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). This rating comes in two numbers in the format IPXY (e.g. IP68). The first letter "X" represents a number (from 0 to 6) which describes the physical ingress, or the vulnerability of the device to penetration by alien solid objects such as dust while the second letter "Y" (from 0 to 8) describes how resistant the device is to the penetration of fluids under numerous conditions. The chart below summarizes the protection levels.
Before an IP number is given to any device, it must be tested and an appropriate IP number which fits the physical qualities of the device is given. A device rated IP68 passed the qualifications for all six physical ingress levels and the first eight liquid ingress levels and such devices can resist water impact up to 1.5 meters underwater for 30 minutes as well as dust impact. One very important aspect of IP ratings is that it does not consider water pressure thus it cannot rate a device for aquatic activities such as swimming. This is exactly what ATM does.
In contrast to the IP and ATM ratings, the International Organization for Standardization’s (ISO) ISO 22810:2010 standard details the pressure, test duration, water temperature and other parameters to provide a reliable summary of a device water resistance. Devices that meet the ISO standard has passed four major qualifications which are water resistance to overpressure, water resistance at shallow depth, water resistance when strain is placed on the operative components and water resistance on exposure to thermal shocks. ISO standard 22810:2010 certified devices can be used under water and even in conditions where the temperature and pressure of the water varies.
From the above, the newly released Samsung wearables (Samsung Gear Sport and Gear Fit2 Pro) with water resistance rating of 5 ATM under ISO standard 22810:2010 are resistant to pressure at a depth of 50 meters and can be used for shallow water activities.
Please note that even when a device is labeled "water resistant", there is an extent to which it is resistant to water thus you need to understand the water resistance ratings to ensure your devices meet your needs and purpose.