IP68 does not mean you can go swimming with your smartphone

With many modern smartphones featuring high IP ratings, users see it as a licence to take their device, jump into a pool, and record a slow-motion video of the splash.

Unfortunately, that’s not how a “waterproof” smartphone works – while IP ratings are not equal on all devices.

Before you take that waterfall selfie, here are key specifications you must understand.

What is IP?

The IP rating of a device – referred to as its ingress protection rating – lets a user know if the smartphone is dust and water resistant.

The standard is defined by the International Electrotechnical Commission, with each number in the rating related to a level of protection.

In the case of IP68, for example, the 6 stands for “No ingress of dust”, while the 8 stands for “The device can be submerged [in water] to a greater depth, specified by manufacturer”.

While the IP rating on a device is a good starting point for judging your smartphone’s physical abilities, it is not as important as what the manufacturer states.

For example: the Samsung Galaxy S7 has an IP rating of IP68.

The device’s solid particle protection rating of 6 means it is completely dust-tight.

Its liquid ingress protection rating of 8 means it can remain submerged at a depth of 1.5m for 30 minutes – but this measure is defined by Samsung.

The CAT S60, marketed as a “rugged smartphone”, is also rated IP68 – but its makers state it can remain underwater at a depth of 5m for one hour.

In short, an IP68 rating does mean your phone can withstand water and dust, but the degree to which it can do this is ultimately defined by the manufacturer.

Check the specifications page of your device on the manufacturer’s website to find out what your smartphone can handle before you go for a swim with it.

IP Ratings

An outline of IP ratings, as defined by IEC standard 60529 is detailed below.

Solid Particle Protection
Level Object Size Protection against
0 No protection against object contact or ingress.
1 >50mm Any large surface of the body, no protection against deliberate contact with body part.
2 >12.5mm Fingers or similar objects.
3 >2.5mm Tools, thick wires.
4 >1mm Most wires, large ants, small screws.
5 Dust protected Dust ingress is not fully prevented, but does not interfere with equipment operation.
6 Dust Tight No ingress of dust.
Liquid Protection
Level Protection Details
0 None No protection against liquid ingress.
1 Dripping water Dripping water has no harmful effect when device is mounted upright.
2 Dripping water when tilted Dripping water has no harmful effect when device is tilted at an angle of 15 degrees from normal position.
3 Spraying water Water spraying at an angle of up to 60 degrees from vertical has no harmful effect.
4 Splashing water Water splashing against device from any direction has no harmful effect.
5 Water jets Water projected by a nozzle onto device from any direction has no harmful effect.
6 Powerful water jets Water projected in powerful jets against the device from any direction has no harmful effect.
7 Immersion up to 1m The device can be submerged up to a depth of 1m for 30 minutes with no harmful effects.
8 Immersion >1m The device can be submerged to a greater depth, specified by manufacturer.

Now read: Nokia had a hugely-successful 2017

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IP68 does not mean you can go swimming with your smartphone