Author Topic: Is My Phone Waterproof? IP68, IPX8 Ratings Explained  (Read 150 times)

Offline javajolt

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Is My Phone Waterproof? IP68, IPX8 Ratings Explained
« on: March 17, 2023, 03:03:48 AM »
What exactly do IP67, IP68 or IPX8 mean? And can you take your phone swimming? Here's what you should know.

Water resistance used to be something found on beefy, rubber-sealed rugged phones designed for construction workers or downhill mountain bikers. But things have changed, and in 2023 you'll find some kind of water resistance built into most mainstream phones, including the iPhone 14 Pro, Galaxy S23 Ultra and Google's Pixel 7 Pro.

The value of water resistance in a phone is clear to anyone who's ever spilled tea, coffee or soda over their device. It can mean the difference between a quick wipe with a napkin and an expensive trip to the store.

Not all phones can withstand a dunk in water, and some shouldn't be near liquid at all. Almost no phones should be taken swimming in a pool, and sea swimming is out of the question. If you've shopped for a phone recently, you'll have come across terms like "water resistant" and the now common IP67, IP68, or IPX8 ratings. But what do those ratings really mean and, crucially, how waterproof is your expensive new phone?

Let's break down the jargon and find out.

What do IP67, IP68 and IPX8 mean?

IP, or ingress protection, ratings (aka international protection ratings) are a standard set forth by the International Electrotechnical Commission. According to the organization, the codes are designed as a "system for classifying the degrees of protection provided by the enclosures of electrical equipment."

The first number in the rating code represents the amount of protection provided against the entry of foreign solid objects, such as fingers or dust. These protection levels range from a low of 0 to a high of 6.

The second number represents the degree of protection against the entry of moisture or liquid, with protection levels ranging from a low of 0 to a high of 8.

Nothing's earbuds are IPX4 rated, which is enough to keep them safe from sweat during your
workouts. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Sometimes you'll see an IP rating with a number replaced with an X, such as IPX8. In this instance, a company hasn't provided testing details so the rating number is replaced with an X. An IPX8-rated device can survive being submerged in water then, but it hasn't officially been rated for any protection from dust.

The iPhone 14 Pro has an IP68 rating, meaning it's protected from dust getting inside and can withstand being submerged in water. The Galaxy S22 Ultra is also IP68 rated. So they're equally water-resistant, right? Well, no. That's where it gets confusing.

For an 8 on the IP rating, the IEC demands a device can withstand being submerged in at least 1 meter of water for 30 minutes. Beyond that, it's up to the manufacturer. The S23 Ultra can be submerged in up to 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes, while Apple says the iPhone 14 Pro is safe in up to 6 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. So while any phone with an IP68 rating will have had to hit that 1 meter-30 minute minimum threshold, it's important to check the fine print and see exactly what your phone offers.

For further details on all the IP ratings, you can see charts at the end of this article outlining the protection levels set by the IEC.

The iPhone 12 Pro Max can be submerged in water up to 6 meters deep for up to 30 minutes at
a time. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

Can I go swimming with my iPhone?

While the iPhone 14 Pro's advertised 6 meters of water resistance might make it seem like you can slip one into your swim shorts and hit the pool, you'd be well advised to leave it out of the water. The IP rating is tested in controlled conditions -- in water with no movement. Moving your phone in the water will add more water pressure, making it more likely that water could find its way inside and do irreparable damage to your phone.

The IP tests are also done using fresh water; most pools will have additional chemicals such as chlorine, which could make a difference to your phone's resistance. And you should absolutely keep your phone out of the sea: Salt water could cause a lot of trouble, including degrading the metal parts in your charging port.

Even if your phone has the top IP68 resistance rating, it's good practice to treat the feature as a backup in case of emergencies. Your phone is not designed to go snorkeling, so don't try using the camera to snag pictures of starfish or whatever. Nor should you try to record TikTok videos of yourself jumping off the high dive into the deep end. It's there for accidents like spilling a drink or emergencies like making a call in the pouring rain.

The OnePlus Nord 2 has no stated water resistance -- keep phones like this extra safe when you're
around liquids. Andrew Hoyle/CNET

My phone doesn't have an IP rating. Can it get wet?

In order for a company to advertise that its product has an IP rating at all, it needs to have undergone strict tests to ensure it meets the requirements. These tests can be timely and costly, so it's understandable that some companies simply don't want to spend the cash, particularly when it comes to budget-focused models.

Some phones -- including Motorola's Moto G50 -- use terms like "water-repellent" or "water-resistant" without an official IP rating. These handsets may make use of methods like rubberized seals or water-repellent nano coating to keep moisture at bay. While these phones may well survive an accidental dunking, it's worth keeping them safe from being fully submerged in water. But you shouldn't need to worry too much about taking calls in the rain.

If your phone makes no mention of water resistance, then it's best to assume that it has none and you should take as much care as you can around liquids.

This article is updated periodically to include new devices.

Bonus video:

« Last Edit: March 17, 2023, 02:55:22 PM by javajolt »