What does the IP rating mean on phones? Is my phone immune to water and dust if it has one?


You probably see it on spec sheets… when the phone has one of course.

Samsung Galaxy A52 4G. A phone with an “IP67” water/dust resistance rating.

You probably have seen the term “IP rating” thrown into a smartphone spec sheet. Several devices have IP ratings in them such as smartwatches, thermometers, washing machines, and even some computer equipment and cables have them. You’re probably thinking “if my phone has an IP rating, then it means it’s immune to water and dust”.

First of all, IP stands for “Ingress Protection” and second, there’s no such thing as “immunity” when it comes to electronics. They can be resistant but never immune. Two different words with two different meanings. The former means it can withstand certain elements for a certain period of time, while the latter simply means unbreakable, invulnerable, or indestructible; which no phone ever is. Not even the classic Nokia 3310.

Ingress, by definition, means the introduction of unwanted elements. It is a synonym to leakage, instruction, incursion, and seepage.

The numbers in the IP rating system actually are separated, hence the reason why you see two numbers after the “IP” acronym. One is for solid objects such as sand, and the other is for liquids, like water. The solid objects are rated from 0-6 and the liquid ones are rated from 0-8. By definition, the highest IP rating is IP68. There is also a special IPX9K rating, which is determined in the table below.

You may also see terms such as “IPX4”. This just means that the product has been tested to be resistant to liquids only. Companies cannot just slap the IP rating there. In order to acquire it, devices have to go through several steps of testing and from there, determine the IP rating.

Here’s a table to help you understand the Ingress Protection rating on your devices.

SOLIDS:

IP RATINGDEFINITION
0No protection
1Protected against solid objects over 50mm (e.g. accidental touching)
2Protected against solid objects over 12mm (e.g. fingers)
3Protected against solid objects over 2.5mm (e.g. thick wirings, tools)
4Protected against solid objects over 1mm
5Protected against dusts — limited protection
6Totally or highly dust resistant

LIQUIDS:

IP RATINGDEFINITION
0No protection from any liquid particles
1Protected against vertically falling small drops of water
2Protected against water up to 15┬░ starting from the vertical angle
3Protected against water splashes up to 60┬░ starting from the vertical angle
4Splash resistant to any direction — limited ingress is permitted
5Resistant to low-pressure jets of water — limited ingress is permitted
6Resistant to high-pressure jets of water — limited ingress is permitted
7Product can be submerged in water for up to 1m for 30 minutes (short period immersion)
8Product can be submerged in water deeper than 1m for long periods. Depth is determined by manufacturer
9KProtection against close-range high pressure, high-temperature spray downs, and jets of water

Hope the table above helps you determine how resistant your phone is to foreign and/or unwanted particles. Read the spec sheet carefully so you can tell how resistant your phone is to those particles.

Sources: L-Com, Jabra, MPL