Not long ago, water-resistance was a feature of ultra-resistant phones aimed at professionals or those who spend part of their lives in unfavorable weather conditions. However, over the years, more and more manufacturers have decided to offer liquid protection to their best phones.
In most cases, the degree of protection against water – and dust – is measured through IP certification, where IP68 is the highest level of resistance that we have seen so far on a smartphone. But what does IP68 mean for a phone? And, above all, what are the tests that are carried out to determine the protection level of each device?
What does IP68 mean, all you need to know
Understanding the levels of IP certification
The IP degree of protection is a standard of the International Electrotechnical Commission or IEC, which establishes a system for the classification of degrees of protection in electronic devices and equipment.
The main objective of the IEC when establishing this system is to offer the user a precise reference when it comes to understanding how resistant their device is, thus preventing manufacturers from using inaccurate terms to refer to the level of protection of their devices. Like raincoat or similar.
Therefore, depending on how good – or bad – the device is isolated against solid or liquid bodies, it is awarded a certification corresponding to its level. The certifications are established through codes with the structure “IPXX”, where the first digit corresponds to the protection against solid particles, while the second refers to the resistance to liquids. In the tables below these lines, we see what each of the IP degrees of protection means.
Protection against solid bodies – IPX-
|X||No data available or uncertified device|
|one||Effective against solid bodies less than 50 millimeters|
|Two||Effective against solid bodies less than 12.5mm|
|3||Effective against solid bodies less than 2.5mm|
|4||Effective against solid bodies of less than 1 millimeter|
|5||Dust protection. The entry of particles is not completely avoided, but it is guaranteed that it will not enter enough to influence the operation of the equipment|
|6||Total protection against dust. The entry of solid particles into the equipment is completely avoided.|
Liquid protection – IP-X
|X||No data available or uncertified device|
|one||Effective against dripping water|
|Two||Effective against dripping water even when the equipment is inclined up to 15º regardless of the position.|
|3||Effective against water sprayed from any angle up to 60 °|
|4||Effective against splashes from any direction|
|5||Effective against water pushed from any direction|
|6||Effective against water driven at high speed from any direction|
|6K||Effective against water driven at high speed at high pressure from any direction|
|7||Effective against diving in water up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes|
|8||Effective against diving in water deeper than 1 meter for 30 minutes|
|9K||Effective against high temperature, high speed water from any direction.|
What tests are performed to certify a device?
However, in order for manufacturers to add IP certification to their device specification list, they must pass a series of tests, which will determine their preparation for possible accidents. Depending on the level, these are the tests they must pass:
- IPX1: 10-minute test in which water equivalent to 1 mm of rain per minute is sprayed.
- IPX2: 2.5 minutes test for each inclination direction – a total of 10 minutes – in which water equivalent to 3 mm of rain per minute is sprayed.
- IPX3: a test of at least 5 minutes in which a volume of water equivalent to 10 liters per minute is sprayed at a pressure between 50 and 150 kPa.
- IPX4: a test similar to that carried out for IPX3 certification, with the difference that the protector is removed during spraying.
- IPX5: a test of at least 15 minutes – 1 minute per square meter – in which the water is pushed at a distance of 3 meters and a pressure of 30 kPa with a volume of 12.5 liters per minute.
- IPX6: a test of at least 3 minutes – 1 minute per square meter – in which the water is pushed at a distance of 3 meters and a pressure of 100 kPa with a volume of 100 liters per minute.
- IPX6K: a test of at least 3 minutes –1 minute per square meter– in which the water is pushed at a distance of 3 meters and a pressure of 1000 kPa –100 bar– with a volume of 75 liters per minute.
- IPX7: a test of at least 30 minutes carried out at the lowest point of the enclosure in which it is performed, 1 meter below the surface of the water.
- IPX8: a test normally carried out at a depth of 3 meters below the surface of the water, with a duration agreed with the manufacturer.
- IPX9K: a test of at least 30 seconds for each of the 4 corners –2 minutes in total– in which the water is pushed at a distance of between 0.10 and 0.15 meters at a pressure of between 80 and 100 bar, at a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius.
In addition to the above, it is necessary to keep in mind that IP protection levels cannot be combined with IPX6. This means that it is possible that a terminal has IPX7 protection and therefore supports diving, but cannot withstand pushed water because it has not passed the tests corresponding to IPX5 or IPX6 degrees. That’s why some phones – like the latest Sony models – indicate a double degree of protection – for example, the Xperia 1 has IP65 / 68 protection.
What does IP68 mean: conclusion
Furthermore, it should be stressed that the execution of these tests and the subsequent certification of the devices entail costs for the manufacturer. Therefore, some companies, especially Chinese ones like OnePlus, decide not to certify their phones despite having built them in such a way that, in theory, they are able to pass the tests.