Dustproof? Waterproof? Decoding the gadget ratings

Nov 7, 2017

You might have often seen the codes like IP67 (in iPhone 7/8/X) or IP68 (in Samsung Galaxy S8). In general market language, these codes tells you something about the product being "waterproof" or “dustproof.” But is that all? Why do these codes vary if they mean just waterproof or dustproof? Today we bring you a complete breakdown of these codes. Let’s start…

We start with what IP stands for. No, it’s not Internet Protocol. Here IP is a short for "Ingress Protection" or in some other words "International Protection Marking." It is an international standard created by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), under the standard 60529. The whole idea behind these IP ratings is to get away from saying words like "water-resistant" or "dust-proof" by providing numbers with clear definitions. Dictionary says Ingress means "the action or fact of going in or entering; the capacity or right of entrance." So basically, Ingress Protection is protection against things entering a product's enclosure.




Now let’s come to the two digit numbers. The first digit denotes intrusion protection against solids (aka "dust”) and the second number signifies safety against moisture (or water).

Here’s a complete breakdown of these numbers-

First Digit – Solids (Dirt or Dust)

  • 0 – No unique protection.
  • 1 – Protection from large body parts, like hands and legs.
  • 2 – Safety against fingers or objects not higher than 80mm (length) and 12mm (diameter).
  • 3 – Protection against wires or tools with a 2.5mm diameter or higher.
  • 4 – Safety against rigid bodies those are bigger than 1mm.
  • 5 – Protection from dust and sand that could harm machinery.
  • 6 – Completely dustproof.


Second Digit – Liquids (Water or Vapours)

  • 0 – Zero protection.
  • 1 – Condensation protection and protection from vertically falling drops.
  • 2 – Protection from water droplets that have a 15-degree vertical deflection.
  • 3 – Protection from spray with 60-degree vertical deflection.
  • 4 – Safety from water sprays from any direction.
  • 5 – Safeguard against water jets (low pressure) flowing from all directions.
  • 6 – Security against waves and string water jets.
  • 7 – Protection against non-permanent immersions up to 1 meter depth.
  • 8 – Safety from prolonged immersion, up to half an hour, at a depth of 1 to 3 meters.
  • 9 – Protection from powerful high temperature jets.

So, if you have a product with a rating of IP68 (Samsung Galaxy S8), you don’t need to worry about dust, and can go underwater up to a few meters for half an hour or so.


Testing Procedure:

It's important to remember, these are all laboratory conditions. Products are generally tested for their IP ratings by manufacturers in in-house or third-party laboratories that comply with IEC 60529.They are not real-world tests. Here, we see that solids are measured on a scale of 0 to 6, where 6 is the best shielding you can get. Water, however, is measured 0 to 9. No product has ever been rate 9 for water.  This is because nothing ever is fool proofed in the long run.


Limitations to IP ratings:

  • The ratings don’t indicate the tested product can work when submerged in water within its classified range.
  • Chemical exposure is also not permissible; this can also include salt water.

So basically, even if you have a device with good IP rating, it doesn't mean you should push it, especially with the water. Also you’ve to note that no manufacturer rates smartphones on impact resistance. So you should never go using it underwater, in sandstorms, or start dropping it off buildings. The warranty just won’t cover everything!

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