IP ratings decoded: Everything you need to know about waterproof ratings on smartphones

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IP ratings decoded: Everything you need to know about waterproof ratings on smartphones
Image credits- International Electrotechnical Commission
  • IP ratings indicate a phone's level of resistance to dust and water.
  • Phones without an official IP rating may still have some water resistance features, but it's best to avoid fully submerging them.
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In the past, water resistance was only available in heavy-duty phones designed for those in construction or extreme sports. Come 2023, and you can expect to find some degree of water resistance in most mainstream phones, including the iPhone 14 Pro, Galaxy S23 Ultra, and Google's Pixel 7 Pro.

However, not all phones are capable of surviving a dip in water, and some should be kept away from liquids altogether. If you've recently purchased a phone, you've probably come across phrases like ‘water-resistant’ and the now-common IP67, IP68, or IPX8 ratings.

What exactly do these ratings indicate, and more importantly, how waterproof is your expensive new phone?

Let's break down the technical terminology and find out.

What are IP ratings?


IP68 is currently one of the most common IP ratings for smartphones in 2022. Let's take a closer look.

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The third character in the rating denotes the level of resistance to dust and outside objects, on a scale from zero to six. A five indicates ‘dust-protected,’ while a six means ‘dust-tight,’ according to the International Electrotechnical Commission's (IEC) rating guide.

The last character in the IP rating denotes water resistance, ranging from zero to nine. A rating of seven signifies that a smartphone can be briefly submerged in shallow water, while a rating of eight means it can withstand deeper water but the increase in depth can vary.

The iPhone 14 Pro and Galaxy S22 Ultra both have an IP68 rating, indicating protection against dust and the ability to withstand submersion in water. However, it's not as simple as assuming they have the same level of water resistance.

According to the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC), a device with an 8 rating should be able to withstand being submerged in at least one meter of water for 30 minutes.

However, the depth and duration of water exposure can vary depending on the manufacturer. For instance, the Galaxy S23 Ultra can handle up to 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes, while Apple claims that the iPhone 14 Pro can endure up to 6 meters of water for the same time frame.

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So, while phones with an IP68 rating have passed the minimum threshold of 1 meter and 30 minutes, it's crucial to read the details and determine the specific water resistance capabilities of your phone.

Is it safe to expose a phone without an IP rating to water?


Why some phones don't have an IP rating and what it means for water resistance

Obtaining an IP rating requires strict and costly testing to meet specific requirements, which is why some companies, especially those focused on budget models, may choose not to pursue it.

Instead, phones like Motorola's Moto G50 may use alternative methods like rubberized seals or water-repellent nano coating to protect against moisture without an official IP rating. While these phones may withstand accidental water exposure, it's still important to avoid fully submerging them. If your phone doesn't mention water resistance, it's best to assume it has none and take extra precautions around liquids.

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