Waterproofing was once reserved for beefy, rubber-sealed rugged phones designed for construction workers or downhill mountain bikers. Still, it’s now built – to varying degrees – into most mainstream phones, including the iPhone 13 Pro, Galaxy S22 Ultra, and the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Anyone who has spilled a pint of beer on a new phone understands the importance of water resistance: it can mean the difference between a quick wipe with a napkin and an expensive trip to the Apple store.
However, not all phones can withstand dunking; some should be kept entirely from water. If you’ve recently purchased a phone, you’ve probably come across terms like “water-resistant” and the now-common IP67, IP68, or IPX8 ratings. But what exactly do those ratings mean, and, more importantly, how waterproof is your expensive new phone?
Let’s decipher the message and find out.
What Exactly Do IPX8, IPX6, and IP67 Mean?
The International Electrotechnical Commission has established a standard known as IP, or ingress protection ratings (also known as international protection ratings). The organization claims that the codes serve as a “system for classifying the degrees of protection provided by the enclosures of electrical equipment.”
The first number in the rating code indicates the level of protection against the entry of solid foreign objects, such as dust or fingers. These protection levels range from 0 to 6, with six being the highest. With protection levels ranging from a low of 0 to a high of 8, the second number represents the degree of protection against the entry of moisture or liquid.
An IP rating will occasionally appear with an X in place of a number, for example, IPX8. In this case, an X is substituted for the rating number because the company still needs to provide information about the testing. So even though an IPX8-rated device can withstand being submerged in water, it hasn’t received any official dust protection ratings.
The iPhone 13 Pro has an IP68 rating, which means it is resistant to dust and can be submerged in water. The IP68 rating also applies to the Galaxy S22 Ultra. So, they’re both water-resistant, correct? No, it does not. That’s where things get complicated.
The IEC mandates that a device withstand being submerged in water for 30 minutes at a depth of at least 1 meter to receive an IP rating of 8. The maker is in charge after that. While Apple claims the iPhone 13 Pro is secure in up to 6 meters of water for up to 30 minutes, the S22 Ultra can be submerged for up to 30 minutes in up to 1.5 meters of water. It is crucial to read the fine print and understand what your phone offers, even though any phone with an IPX8 rating had to meet that 1 meter for 30 minutes minimum requirement.
Can I Swim while Using my iPhone?
Although the iPhone 13 Pro’s 6 meters of claimed water resistance might make it seem like you can tuck one into your swimsuit and hit the pool, you’d be better off keeping it out of the water. The IP rating is tested under controlled circumstances in still water. Moving your phone in the water will increase the water pressure, increasing the chance that water will get inside and cause permanent damage.
Since most swimming pools contain additional chemicals like chlorine, the IP tests are also conducted in freshwater, which may affect your phone’s resistance. Additionally, it would help if you never put your phone in the water: Aside from other problems, salt water could corrode the metal components in your charging port.
It’s best practice to treat the feature as a backup in emergencies, even if your phone has the highest IP68 resistance rating. Don’t try to use the camera on your phone to take pictures of starfish or anything else while snorkeling because it is not designed to do so. It would help if you didn’t attempt to record TikTok videos of yourself diving into the deep end from the high dive. It is available in case of mishaps like a spilled drink or emergencies like making a phone call in the pouring rain.
There isn’t an IP Rating for my Phone. Is It Waterproof?
A company must rigorously test its product to ensure it satisfies the requirements before claiming it has an IP rating. Some businesses don’t want to spend money on these tests because they can be time-consuming and expensive, especially regarding budget-focused models.
Without an official IP rating, some phones—including Motorola’s Moto G50—use terms like “water-repellent” or “water-resistant.” These handsets may use rubberized seals or water-repellent nano-coating to keep moisture at bay. Although these phones might survive an accidental splash, it’s best to avoid submerging them completely. However, it would help if you didn’t have to stress too much about answering calls while it’s raining.
It is best to assume that your phone is not water resistant if it does not mention it, and you should use the most significant amount of caution when near liquids.
To conclude, although iPhones like 13 Pro have an IP68 rating which claims that it is water resistant, it is not recommended to take your iPhone to a swimming pool but rather use it as a backup in emergencies. If you are planning to buy a used phone, ensure that it has an IP rating and is water resistant.