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Monday, September 27, 2021

IP certifications: What do they mean and how to decode them

Here’s all you need to know about IP ratings, what the certification numbers mean and how to decode an IP rating to see how well protected against the elements your device is.

By: Tech Desk | Mumbai |
Updated: August 23, 2021 9:07:43 am
IP rating, Samsung Galaxy S20 FE, water resistance, waterproof,Here's all you need to know about IP ratings including how to identify and make sense out of them. (Image Source: Samsung)

IP certifications are often seen on the spec sheets of upper mid-range and flagship devices. However, what is the IP rating and what do the various IP ratings mean? What is the difference between them and what ratings should you look forward to in your smartphones, fitness bands and other gadgets?

Let’s have an understanding of the IP certification system before we understand the answer to these questions. Then, you will be able to decode IP ratings on your own and better understand what each rating means.

What is the IP certification?

IP certifications stand for Ingress Protection, or simply put, how well protected a device is against the ingress or entering of solid or liquid particles. While calling particular gadgets water-resistant or waterproof may sound convenient, it may also end up being vague. An official rating standard gives more in-depth context to how much a device can withhold against elements like water or dust.

How to decode an IP certification?

Any phone or other gadget’s IP certification will be two letters (I and P) followed by two numbers. In this format, the first number, or the third character is what depicts the protection against solid particles like dust. Similarly the second number denotes protection against liquid particles.

IP rating, Apple iPhone SE 2020, water resistance, waterproof, The Apple iPhone SE 2020 is rated IP67. (Image Source: Apple)

Generally, the higher a number in both the third and fourth slots indicates a stronger protection value. Also, if a device features protection against only liquid particles and not solid, the corresponding character will be found marked with an X. For instance, the ‘IPX8’ rating of Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Fold 3 denotes that the phone is well-protected against water ingress, but not against solid particles like dust.

What significance do the numbers hold?

The ‘IPXY’ numbers mean different standards for both solid and liquid. Here are what the ratings mean for the solid particle protection rating (third character).

1 – protected against particles greater than 50mm in size.
2 – protected against particles greater than 12.5mm in size (finger-sized objects).
3 – protected against particles greater than 2.5mm in size (thick wires).
4 – protected against particles greater than 1mm (thin wires, screws).
5 – protective against dust particles to a level. Particles may still enter but not in enough quantity to cause significant damage quickly.
6 – completely protective against dust particles.

IP rating, OnePlus 9 pro, water resistance, waterproof, The OnePlus 9 Pro features an IP68 rating. (Image Source: OnePlus)

Meanwhile, for liquids, here’s what the numbers mean

1 – protected against vertically dripping water, with no angled surface or pressure involved, for up to 10 minutes.
2 – protected against dripping water on a surface tilted till up to 15-degrees for up to 10 minutes.
3 – protected against spraying water at up to 60 degrees, under pressure of 80-100kPa for up to 5 minutes.
4 – protected against water splashes from any direction, under pressure of 80-100kPa for up to 5 minutes.
5 – protected against water jets sprayed through a nozzle from any direction under pressure of 30kPa at a distance of 3 meters for up to 3 minutes.
6 – protected against powerful water jets from any direction with pressure up to 100kPa at a distance of 3 meters for up to 3 minutes.
7 – protected against complete immersion of up to 1 meter depth for up to 30 minutes.
8 – protected against complete immersion beyond 1 meter depth and up to 3 meters.

Putting the two numbers together, users should get a good idea of how well protected any of their gadgets are against particles. For instance if a device has an IP rating of IP68, you know that the gadget is protected against dust particles completely and can be submerged between 1 and 3 meters underwater.

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