What do IP ratings really mean?

We explore what it means for a smartphone to be rated as IP67 or IP68...
What do IP ratings really mean?

The new iPhone 7/iPhone 7 Plus has an IP67 rating. The Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, meanwhile, have an IP68 rating. But what do those numbers actually mean? Let us explain...

What is an IP rating?

An IP (ingress protection) rating is an international standard that defines a device’s level of resistance to foreign bodies (including dust) and water. To get an IP rating, a device must go through certified and independent testing. The manufacturer itself has to supply the exact depth and length of time their device can be exposed to water for (and sometimes this will be more than its rated for).

What do the numbers in an IP rating mean?

Each of the two numbers in an IP rating has a specific meaning. The first number indicates the level of protection against solid objects including dust. And the second number indicates the level of protection from various types of moisture - ranging from condensation and drips to full immersion.

Here are the exact details of what each number means.

First number (intrusion protection)

  • 0) No protection
  • 1) Protection from solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter
  • 2) Protection from objects not greater than 80mm in length and 12mm in diameter
  • 3) Protection from entry by thin objects with a diameter of 2.5 mm or more
  • 4) Protection against solid bodies larger than 1mm
  • 5) Protected against dust that may harm equipment
  • 6) Totally dust-tight

Second number (moisture protection)

  • 0) No protection
  • 1) Protection against condensation
  • 2) Protection against water droplets up to 15° from vertical
  • 3) Protected against spray up to 60° from vertical
  • 4) Protected against water spray from all directions
  • 5) Protection against low pressure water jets from all directions
  • 6) Protection against string water jets and waves
  • 7) Protected against temporary immersion
  • 8) Protected against prolonged effects of immersion under pressure

IP67 - what you can and can’t do

A device with an IP67 rating can be submerged up to 1 metre deep in water for 30 minutes, without sustaining any permanent damage. However, that doesn't mean you can take it for a quick dip in the swimming pool. IP tests are conducted under laboratory conditions while the phone is in standby mode - so we suggest you err on the side of caution, and try to keep your device as dry as possible.

IP68 - what you can and can’t do

If a device is IP68 certified - the highest mobile certification - it means it can be immersed in water at depths of up to 1.5m for up to 30 minutes.

Here’s what Samsung has to say about the IP68 rating on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge:

“They’re water resistant to a maximum depth of 1.5m for up to 30 minutes, and are protected from dust, dirt and sand - all without the need for extra caps or covers. Now there’s less to worry about. You can enjoy more freedom to explore, stay connected, and capture the adventure.”

Samsung also gives a few handy tips to protect its new flagships from water, and this is good advice for any device with an IP68 rating:

  • Do not expose the Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 edge to water moving with force, such as water running from a tap, ocean waves, or waterfalls
  • If the Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 edge is exposed to freshwater, dry it thoroughly with a clean, soft cloth
  • If the Samsung Galaxy S7 or S7 edge is exposed to any liquid other than freshwater, gently rinse the device with still fresh water immediately and dry it thoroughly with a clean soft cloth

Basically, be sensible - whatever the IP rating on your device happens be. If you’ve got any more questions on IP ratings, leave a comment below and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

What are your thoughts? Join the conversation here…

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