What does IP68 mean

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Pau Monfort
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What does IP68 mean? Not long ago, water resistance was a feature of ultra-resistant phones aimed at professionals or those who spend part of their lives in adverse weather conditions. However, over the years, more and more manufacturers have decided to offer their best phones liquid protection.

In most cases, the degree of protection against water - and dust - is measured through IP certification, where IP68 is the highest level of resistance 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 level of protection of each device?

What does IP68 mean, everything you need to know

Understanding the levels of IP certification

The IP degree of protection is a standard of 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 an accurate reference when it comes to understanding how durable your device is, thus preventing manufacturers from using imprecise terms to refer to the level of protection of their devices. Like waterproof or the like.

Therefore, depending on how well - or badly - the device is insulated 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 protection against solid particles, while the second yes refers to resistance to liquids. In the tables below these lines, we see what each of the IP degrees means.

Protection against solid bodies - IPX-

XNo data available or device not certified
0Without protection
aEffective against solid bodies smaller than 50 millimeters
DueEffective against solid bodies smaller than 12,5 millimeters
3Effective against solid bodies smaller than 2,5 millimeters
4Effective against solid bodies of less than 1 millimeter
5Dust protection. The ingress of particles is not completely avoided, but it is guaranteed that they will not enter enough to affect the operation of the equipment
6Total protection against dust. The ingress of solid particles into the equipment is completely avoided.

Liquid protection - IP-X

XNo data available or device not certified
0Without protection
aEffective against dripping water
DueEffective against dripping water even when the appliance is tilted up to 15º regardless of its position.
3Effective against water sprayed from any angle up to 60 °
4Effective against splashes from any direction
5Effective against water pushed from any direction
6Effective against water pushed at high speed from any direction
6KEffective against water pushed at high speed under high pressure from any direction
7Effective against immersion in water up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes
8Effective against diving in water deeper than 1 meter for 30 minutes
9KEffective against water pushed at high temperature and high speed from any direction.

What tests are performed to certify a device?

However, for manufacturers to add IP certification to their device specification list, they must pass a series of tests, which will determine their preparedness 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: test of 2,5 minutes for each direction of inclination - total of 10 minutes - in which water is sprayed equivalent to 3 mm of rain per minute.
  • IPX3: 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: test similar to that carried out for the IPX3 certification, with the difference that the protector is removed during spraying.
  • IPX5: test of at least 15 minutes –1 minute per square meter– in which water is pushed to a distance of 3 meters and a pressure of 30 kPa with a volume of 12,5 liters per minute.
  • IPX6: test of at least 3 minutes –1 minute for metro square - where the water is pushed to a distance of 3 meters and a pressure of 100 kPa with a volume of 100 liters per minute.
  • IPX6K: test of at least 3 minutes –1 minute for metro square– in which the water is pushed to a distance of 3 meters and a pressure of 1000 kPa –100 bar– with a volume of 75 liters per minute.
  • IPX7: test of at least 30 minutes carried out at the lowest point of the enclosure where it is performed, 1 meter below the surface of the water.
  • IPX8: test normally performed at a depth of 3 meters below the surface of the water, with a duration agreed with the manufacturer.
  • IPX9K: test of at least 30 seconds for each of the 4 corners - 2 minutes in total - in which the water is pushed to a distance between 0,10 and 0,15 meters at a pressure between 80 and 100 bar, at a temperature of 80 degrees Celsius.

In addition to the above, it is necessary keep present 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 emphasized 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, and in theory, they are able to pass the tests.

Further Reading:

  • What is an RCA cable? RCA cables have been around since the 50s
  • Is your smartphone water resistant? Differences between IP67 and IP68
  • How To Dry Cell Phone Dropped Into Water - Simple Methods
  • Samsung Galaxy S10 vs. Samsung Galaxy S9, what are the differences?
  • Samsung Galaxy S10e, price, features and all official specifications

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