What exactly does that cryptic code on IPX protection of your hearing aid, a watch a smart phone and how can you apply it to daily use? In case you did not know, this number indicates the classification of resistance to water and dust, but very rarely it is explained in a simple way, especially for those who are looking for an article to practice sports or an outdoor adventure.
What does IPX protection mean?
The IPX, IPXY or simply IP protection corresponds to a standardized classification on the resistance of a product to prevent liquids 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 that follow the IP letters indicate what type of protection you can expect.
The X is the resistance to solids / dust, from zero to six, where zero means that there is no protection and six that is airtight, even after exposure for up to 8 hours. Because very few devices are designed to prevent dust, this part is often set aside. Therefore, most of the time we see an X after IP, for example, IPX5, which means that there is no qualification for the entry of solids / dust.
The Y is the protection of liquids, which goes from zero to eight. Zero means that there is no shelter and eight, which can withstand water immersion, generally up to a depth of three meters, for at least 30 minutes. Technically, there is a ninth level, but it is not used for mass consumption products.
What does it mean to me?
If you have 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 review with some examples. We will focus only on protection against liquids, because both level 5 and 6 are similar: IP5 means that something may come in, but not cause any problems, and IP6 means that no dust enters.
With IPX2, your device can withstand a small amount of water without damage. In practice this translates into "moderately sweat resistant." Samsung's Galaxy Buds headphones, rated IPX2, easily survived a 10-kilometer race while they were 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 offers decent protection against water splashes. It is not waterproof, but has an excellent degree of protection for ultra-active workouts or long marathons in adverse weather conditions. Most sports headphones are rated IPX4 and should not have problems for regular use. Bose SoundSport Free headphones are IPX4. Again, do not immerse them.
The IPX6 is the protection against powerful water jets, so you can take a shower without side effects, but don't make it a habit either. Actually, do not place them underwater, for example, do not go swimming or expect to necessarily survive an encounter with a toilet. The Sbode M400 Bluetooth speaker, rated IPX6, is perfect to accompany you to the side of the pool.
IPX7 / 8
If you are one of those people who frequently drops the phone or camera into the water, you should not settle for anything less than IPX7. This will protect your device from accidental drops in a meter of water for up to 30 minutes, while IPX8 allows the same period of protection in deeper waters, which must be specified by the manufacturer.
Speakers designed for water such as the UE Wonderboom or the JBL Boombox are IPX7. Our best options for eBook readers of 2018 had this rating, which makes them the ideal vacation companions.
The Samsung Galaxy S9, S10, and the iPhone XS and XS Max are rated IP68, as are the most recent Galaxy Note 10 and Note 10 Plus and iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, which means that their sealing prevents entry of dust and water. These products can be rinsed safely with mild running water, but always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
If it is IPX8, does it also include levels 1 through 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 that can withstand accidental immersion. Sony XBR-510AS headphones, for example, are specifically labeled IPX5 / 7, which means that it is moderately splash proof and can survive accidental immersion.
To be sure, always check what the manufacturer indicates in its specifications on IPX protection. For example, Apple claims that the iPhone XR has an IP67 rating up to a maximum depth of 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. But if you read the fine print, there are some caveats, such as protection from water and dust "They are not permanent conditions and the resistance may decrease as a result of normal wear. (…) Damage for liquids not covered by the warranty".
The clear idea here is that you should not take this rating as an invitation to bathe or swim with the iPhone XR.
IPX8 means 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. The IPX7 / 8 is designed as a classification for the survival of a device after an accidental immersion or for a short time in the water, but does not indicate that it can be used continuously underwater.
Even when you see products, usually watches, with a water resistance mark (WR) of 30M, for example, it is also no guarantee that they will survive. Unless otherwise specified, these items are not tested individually and manufacturers only use a new reference to undergo a very basic test.
|X||No data available.|
|two||Water dripping when tilted to 15.|
|3||Water Roco (spray).|
|6||Powerful jets of water.|
|6K||Powerful water jets at higher pressure.|
|7||Immersion 1m deep.|
|8||Immersion of more than 1m deep.|
|9K||Powerful high temperature water jets|
For true underwater use, you must choose a diving product, which has its own classification based on the ISO 6425 standard for diver watches. These are individually tested and must yield at depths 25 percent above the indicated number. The manufacturer generally guarantees that they survive repeated use for prolonged periods, in addition to being able to withstand the pressure changes that accompany the descent and ascent from those depths.
|Water Resistance Specification||Suitability||Observations|
|Resistance at 3 atm or 30 m||Suitable for daily use. Splash / rain resistant.||Not suitable for showering, bathing, swimming, diving, working in the water, fishing and diving.|
|Resistance at 5 atm or 50 m||Suitable for daily use, showering, bathing, swimming in shallow water, snorkeling, water-related work, fishing, splash / rain resistant.||Noapto for diving.|
|Resistance at 10 atm or 100 m||Suitable for recreational surfing, swimming, snorkeling, sailing and water sports.||Noapto for diving.|
|Resistance at 20 atm or 200 m||Suitable for professional marine activities, surface water sports and apnea diving.||Suitable for apnea diving.|
|100m diving||Minimum ISO standard (ISO 6425) for diving at depths not suitable for saturation diving.||100m and 150m diving watches are generally old.|
|Diving at 200 m or 300 m||Suitable for diving at depths not suitable for saturation diving.||Common qualifications for modern diving watches.|
|Diving at more than 300m with mixed gas||Suitable for saturation diving (environment enriched with helium).||Watches designed for mixed gas diving will have the additional DIVER’S WATCHxxxM FOR MIXED-GAS DIVING brand.|
And if my product has no IP rating?
You have probably noticed that many devices can survive water or dust, although they do not have an IP rating. For example, you may have run with your Apple AirPods without qualification without problems. Sometimes that is explained by a 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 know what is covered. As we saw with the iPhone XR, even with an IP67 rating, Apple's warranty does not cover liquids.
* Updated by Rodrigo Orellana on December 23, 2019