One of the most attractive features on smartphones today is being “water” or “dust” resistant. But what does that really mean? Is your smartphone really water-resistant or dust-resistant? Can you submerge it underwater anywhere? Unfortunately, advertisement about this smartphone’s feature can be misleading. But we can check the International Protection(IP) rating codes to make things clearer.
IP codes are standards set forth by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). These codes were designed as a “system for classifying the degrees of protection provided by the enclosures of electrical/electronic equipment.” IP ratings normally consist of letters “IP” followed by one or two digits, for example, IP67 and IP68, and do not include hyphens or spaces.
Let’s first digest one of our above IP rating code example, IP67, to understand what each component represents for. Obviously, “IP” stands for “International Protection”, the first digit (6) stands for the degree of protection provided against the entry of foreign solid objects, such as fingers or dust, with protection levels ranging from 0 through 6, and the second digit(7) stands for the degree of protection against the entry of moisture, with protection levels ranging from 0 through 8. An “X” in place of first or second number means that the device hasn’t been tested against that respective protection.
To make it easy to undestand, below are tables that outline all of the protection levels set by the IEC.
Now, based on the above tables, if your smartphone is IP67 rating certified that means it is protected from contact with harmful dust(code 6 of solid protection) and is also protected from immersion in water with a depth of up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes (code 7 of moisture protection). If a device is rated, for example, IPX7 that means it has no protection against any solid objects but it has protection from immersion in water with a depth of up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes.
Take note, however, that any IP rating level is not a pre-requisite to the next higher level. It means that a smartphone rated with IP67 hasn’t been tested against solid protection levels 1 through 5 and might be unprotected from wires or screws and similar objects. And since the device hasn’t been tested also against moisture protection levels 1 through 6, it may not be advisable to take it with you in the shower or wash it in the faucet.
Moisture resistance testing are mostly performed in fresh water and your device might not withstand to salt water. Unless guaranteed by the manufacturer, do not try to go swimming to the beach with your smartphone in your pocket. Warm water or hot water in places like sauna bath may also not be safe for your device.
Obviously, if you ever try the “water-resistant” feature of your smartphone, just make sure all the flaps (such as those for charging ports) are closed before submerging your device. You should also avoid pressing any buttons while your smartphone is underwater.