What do the IP67 and IP68 ratings mean?Topic: Tech Specs
It’s time to sing the praises of water-resistant smartphones, especially if you are clumsy or unlucky.
You can finally stand close to the pool at a party, phone in pocket, without having to worry about falling in. You can hold the phone between your ear and shoulder while doing dishes. You can throw away those bags of rice we were told might help dry out our phones after getting wet. (As an aside, it’s not even clear that the rice trick actually works.)
Well, maybe. The thing with water-resistant smartphones is that some are more water resistant than others.
You’ve likely seen the latest Apple and Samsung phones advertised as water resistant, with the iPhone X rated at IP67 and Samsung’s Galaxy S9 rated at IP68.
But, what do those letters and numbers actually mean? How much of a difference is there between the two? And for the clumsy among us, what does that mean when we lose our phone into a bathtub, pool, or toilet? Let’s take a look.
What do IP67 and IP68 mean?
Phone manufacturers advertise the degree of water resistance with a simple number called Ingress Protection, or IP. IP doesn’t just refer to water resistance, however, but also resistance to solid particles, like dust.
IP is expressed as a two-digit number. The first number refers to its protection against solid objects and runs from 0 to 6. The second refers to resistance to water and runs from 0 to 9. The higher the number, the greater the protection.
For example, IP68 is generally considered the highest level of protection, and there are a few phones, like the Samsung Galaxy S9 and S9+, that meet this standard. The first number, 6, means that it is dustproof. The second number, 8, means that it is water resistant for up to 30 minutes at a depth of up to 1.5 meters.
It’s important to know that the standards here refer to a specific test under controlled conditions. For example, while the test for IP68 is submerging a phone to 1.5 meters under water for 30 minutes, phone manufacturers could test deeper or longer.
At the same time, a phone can pass a higher test but not be certified for a lower one. The IP66 standard, for example, certifies that a phone can withstand strong jets of water. A phone could, technically, pass the IP68 test, but not the test for IP66.
When it comes to water resistance, most phone makers only start bragging when they hit IP67, which means the phone can withstand submersion of up to one meter for 30 minutes.
What the ratings don’t say
Interestingly enough, the ratings don’t say that a phone is waterproof, just that it has been tested under certain conditions.
You are probably safe if you jump into a pool with a $1,000, IP67-rated iPhone X, but the rating isn’t a guarantee.
Apple’s warranty excludes water damage, meaning if you drop your phone in the sink and it dies, you might be out of luck. Samsung’s warranty for the Samsung Galaxy S9, which features an even more stringent IP68 rating, also excludes liquid damage (see page 220). It’s probably worth reading the warranty documents for other phone makers.
Anything else I need to know?
Sometimes you might see a phone listed at IPX8. When you see an X, that means the manufacturer hasn’t tested it for the intrusion of dust, but it’s just as water resistant as an IP68-rated phone.
So, clumsy people, breathe easy. If you have one of today’s flagship phones, most water spills aren’t going to do damage.