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Smartphones these days can be very expensive. And with the amount of money we spend on them, it only makes sense that they shouldn’t get damaged easily. To ensure that, some smartphone manufacturers have gone as far as making their devices dust-proof and water-resistant.

But not all smartphones are the same. Therefore, some phones can keep dust out better than others, while others can protect against water damage better than others. To indicate how well a smartphone can protect itself against dust and water, a rating system was put in place– the IP rating system.

In this article, we’ll look at what an IP rating is, and what it measures in smartphones.

What is IP rating?

IP rating stands for ingress protection rating, or, according to some, international protection rating. This is a rating that is used to indicate how dust-proof and water-resistant a smartphone is. An example of such a rating is IP68 (pronounced ‘eye-pea six-eight’, not sixty-eight).

The two digits that follow the ‘IP’ are code to represent the level of dust and water resistance of the phone. The first digit indicates the level of dust resistance. The second digit indicates the level of water resistance.

If a smartphone has only been tested in one area and not the other, then the missing code is replaced with an ‘x’ in the IP rating. For example, if a smartphone has only been tested for water resistance and not dust-resistance, then the IP rating could be shown as ‘IPx8’.

On the other hand, if the phone was tested for dust-resistance and not water-resistance, then the IP rating could show as ‘IP6x’.

But what exactly do the numbers mean? Let’s take a look.

Particle protection

phone in sand

The first number in the IP rating code represents the degree of protection provided against foreign particles such as dust and dirt. The protection level ranges from 0 to 6, 0 being the lowest and 6 the highest.

Particle protection rating guide

IP rating

Protection against

Object size





No protection



Large body surface (e.g., back of hand)



Fingers or similar sized objects



Tools, wires, etc.



Small tools, thin wires, etc.



Resistant to dust but not entirely. Some dust may still enter, but not enough to mess up with the system.



Complete protection against dust

A smartphone that has an IP rating of IP6x is considered completely protected against foreign solid objects. Anything below that has some sort of protection or none at all.

Water protection

wet smartphone

The second number in the IP rating system represents the level of protection against water and moisture. The scale ranges from 0 to 8 (for smartphones). The lowest rating is 0 and the highest is 8.

Water protection rating guide

IP rating

Protection against

Scale of protection





No protection



Drops of water falling vertically

Dripping water


Drops of water when the phone is tilted 15°

Dripping water when tilted 15°


Spraying water at any angle up to 60°

Spraying water


Splashing and spraying water from all directions

Splashing water


Water projected by 6.3mm nozzle in any direction

Low-pressure water jets


Water projected by 12.5mm nozzle in any direction

High-pressure water jets


Ingress of water in depths up to 1m for up to 30min

Water immersion up to 1m


Ingress of water in depths and for periods specified by the manufacturer

Water immersion beyond 1m

What’s worth noting about the water protection rating is that a smartphone is not required to pass every test leading up to the highest rating it can achieve. For example, just because a smartphone is rated IPx8 (rain, splash, submersion) does not mean it has IPx6 (water jets) protection.

Surviving prolonged submersion in water is different from withstanding extended periods of water pressure impact. So, even if a phone is rated IPx8, it may not survive the pressure of the water jets of a hot tub.

IP67 vs IP68

Some smartphones on the market are rated as IP67 while others are said to be IP68. There really isn’t that much of a difference between them. Both devices can completely keep dust out and both can survive being submerged in water.

The only difference between an IP67 and an IP68 smartphone is slight and only seems big on paper. Although IP68 means a device can be submerged in water as far down as it possibly can without damage, IP68 smartphones generally don’t go further than 1.5m for 30min.

It’s really not that great a difference between that and the depths you can reach with an IP67 smartphone.

How to check your smartphone’s IP rating

To check your phone’s IP rating, simply have a look through its instruction manual. If you do not have the manual, you can simply Google your smartphone model’s IP rating and get the results from there.

Alternatively, you can head over to GSM Arena and search for your phone there. The IP rating should be in the ‘Body’ section of the phone’s specs page.

What if your smartphone has no IP rating?

There are a couple of reasons why a smartphone might not have an IP rating. The most obvious could be that the device was never tested and rated. Another could be that the manufacturer chose not to disclose that information in their marketing and specs, which would be rather odd.

But no matter the reason, if your smartphone does not have an IP rating, it’s not the end of the world. To protect your phone from water damage, simply use a water-resistant smartphone case or pouch. The better the quality, the better the protection.

Many insurances and warranties don’t cover water damage, so it’s better to be safe than sorry even if you have a phone with a high IP rating. Wear-and-tear over time can eventually make a phone vulnerable to water ingress.

Things to keep in mind

In most cases, water-resistance tests are performed in freshwater. The same results from the tests cannot be expected in saltwater or other liquids unless the manufacturer says so.

Unless otherwise specified, most tests are conducted around room temperature. Therefore, extremely hot or extremely cold conditions could compromise the performance of the smartphone’s ingression protection.

A high IP rating does not mean that a smartphone is totally impermeable by water or dust. It just means that water will not enter in sufficient quantities to cause damage, up to a specified point.

Manufacturers conduct IP testing under controlled lab conditions, which can be very different from real-world scenarios.

Not every single smartphone gets tested. There is a chance that yours might not have been tested and could be defective in its ingress protection. So, practice caution.


A smartphone’s IP rating is a good indicator of what the device can withstand. But it’s not an invite to abuse the phone. So, whether your smartphone is rated IP68, IP67, or even IP57, you need to practice caution and keep your phone protected at all times.

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