What is IPX protection for water and dust resistance? | Digital Trends Spanish


Your phone will get wet in the rain. Your speaker will fall into the pool. Your headphones will be filling with sweat at the gym. Will your devices survive? That will depend on its degree of IPX protection. Surely you’ve heard a cell phone or headphone manufacturer boast that their products are waterproof, mentioning things like IP68, IP67 or something like that. But what exactly does that mean?

In short: it is a code that is incorporated into the specifications of most technological products and that tells you how resistant they are to water and dust, based on tests carried out by the manufacturers themselves. A useful nomenclature that you should know.

What does IPX protection mean?

Protection IPX, IPXY or simply IP corresponds to a standardized classification on the resistance of a product to prevent solids and liquids from entering, which could damage its electronic components. Officially, IP means “international protection” because the standard was developed and is maintained by the International Electrotechnical Commission. But it is more commonly known as “income protection.”

The two numbers following the letters IP indicate what kind of protection you can expect.

The X is the resistance to solids / dust, from zero to six, where zero means there is no protection and six means that it is airtight, even after exposure for up to eight hours. Because very few devices are designed to avoid dust, this part is often neglected. This is why most of the time we see an X after IP, for example IPX5, which means there is no rating for solid / dust ingress.

The Y is the liquid protection, which ranges from zero to eight. Zero means there is no shelter and eight means that it can withstand immersion in water, generally to a depth of three meters, for at least 30 minutes. Technically, there is a ninth level, but it is not used for mass consumer products.

What does it mean to me?

If you’ve already guessed it, an IP68 rating is the best you can get for protection against dust and liquids. But between IP00 and IP68, there is a lot of variety, so let’s check with some examples. We will focus only on protection against liquids, because both level 5 and 6 are similar: IP5 means that something can get in, but it won’t cause any problems, and IP6 means that no dust gets in.

IPX2

Galaxy Buds headphones on a table |  What is IPX protection

With IPX2, your device can withstand a small amount of water without damage. In practice this translates to “moderately resistant to sweat”. Samsung’s Galaxy Buds headphones, rated IPX2, easily survived a 10-kilometer run while in the ears of a very sweaty person. Do not try to wash them with water, it is better to clean them with a damp cloth.

IPX4

Yellow Bose Soundport headphones on a table.

IPX4 offers decent protection against splashing water. It is not waterproof, but has an excellent degree of protection for ultra-active workouts or long marathons in bad weather conditions. Most sports headphones are IPX4 rated and should have no problem with regular use. Bose SoundSport Free headphones are IPX4. Again, don’t immerse them.

IPX6

One person holds the SBode M400 speaker in their hands

The IPX6 is the protection against powerful jets of water, so you could take a shower without side effects, but don’t make it a habit either. Don’t actually put them under water – for example, don’t go swimming or expect them to necessarily survive an encounter with a toilet. The Sbode M400 Bluetooth speaker, with IPX6 rating, is perfect to accompany you to the side of the pool.

IPX7 / 8

A man holds the iPhone XS Max and Galaxy S10 phones in one of his hands

If you are one of those people who frequently drops your phone or camera into water, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than IPX7. This will protect your device from accidental drops into one meter of water for up to 30 minutes, while IPX8 allows the same period of protection in even deeper waters, which must be specified by the manufacturer.

Speakers like the UE Wonderboom or the JBL Boombox are IPX7 and are also designed to resist water. Our top picks for eBook readers of 2018 had this rating, making them ideal vacation companions.

Several phones, such as the Samsung Galaxy S20, iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, and iPhone 12 are IP68 rated, which means that their sealing will keep out dust and water as much as possible. These products can be safely rinsed off under mild running water, but always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

If it is IPX8, does it also include levels 1 to 7?

No. As annoying as it may be, each level of IPX protection has its own standard, which means that unless a manufacturer indicates otherwise, you cannot be sure that a product will withstand accidental submersion. Sony’s XBR-510AS headphones, for example, are specifically labeled IPX5 / 7, which means that it is moderately splash-proof and can survive accidental submersion.

To be safe, always check what the manufacturer indicates in their specifications on IPX protection. For example, Apple claims that the iPhone XR is IP67 rated to a maximum depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. But if you read the small letter, there are some caveats, such as that water and dust protection “are not permanent conditions and strength may decrease as a result of normal wear and tear. […] Damage due to liquids not covered by the guarantee ”.

The clear idea here is that you should not take this rating as an invitation to bathe or swim with the iPhone XR.

Does IPX8 mean it is waterproof?

No. A waterproof product will not let water in. Because this is almost never the case, when we talk about IPX protection we mean water resistance. IPX7 / 8 is designed as a rating for the survival of a device after accidental or short-term immersion in water, but does not indicate that it can be used continuously under water.

Even when you see products, usually watches, with a water resistance mark (WR) 30M, for example, is also no guarantee that they will survive. Unless otherwise specified, these items are not individually tested and manufacturers only use a new reference for a very basic test.

level Protection against
X No data available.
0 None.
1 Dripping water
2 Water dripping when tilted at 15 °.
3 Water spray (spray).
4 Waterjet.
5 Waterjet.
6 Powerful jets of water.
6K Powerful jets of water at higher pressure.
7 1m deep dive.
8 Immersion of more than 1m deep.
9K Powerful jets of high temperature water

For true underwater use, you should choose a diving product, which has its own classification based on the ISO 6425 standard for divers’ watches. These are individually tested and should perform at depths 25 percent greater than the stated number. They are generally guaranteed by the manufacturer to survive repeated use for extended periods, as well as being able to withstand the pressure changes that accompany descent and ascent from those depths.

Water resistance specification Suitability Observations
Resistance to 3 atm or 30 m Suitable for daily use. Splash / rain resistant. It is not suitable for showering, bathing, swimming, diving, working in the water, fishing and diving.
Resistance to 5 atm or 50 m Suitable for daily use, showering, bathing, shallow water swimming, diving, water-related work, fishing. Splash / rain resistant. Not suitable for diving.
Resistance to 10 atm or 100 m Suitable for recreational surfing, swimming, snorkeling, sailing, and water sports. Not suitable for diving.
Resistance to 20 atm or 200 m Suitable for professional marine activities, surface water sports and freediving. Suitable for freediving.
Diving at 100 m Minimum ISO standard (ISO 6425) for diving at depths not suitable for saturation diving. The 100m and 150m diver’s watches are generally old.
Diving at 200 m or 300 m Suitable for diving at depths not suitable for saturation diving. Common ratings for modern diver’s watches.
Diving over 300m with mixed gas Suitable for saturation diving (helium enriched environment). Watches designed for mixed gas diving will have the additional mark DIVER’S WATCH xxx M FOR MIXED-GAS DIVING.

What if my product is not IP rated?

You’ve probably noticed that many devices can survive water or dust, even though they don’t have an IP rating. For example, you may have run your unrated Apple AirPods with no problems. Sometimes that is explained by good design and other times, just luck. An IP rating is the only real indication that a manufacturer has designed the product for those conditions. But it is not a guarantee either. Always check the product specifications to see what is covered. As we saw with the iPhone XR, even with an IP67 rating, the Apple warranty does not cover liquids.

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