Is your smartphone waterproof? Everything about the IP rating

Maybe a holiday to a tropical island is not in this year: even a paddling pool in the garden can do a lot of damage to your smartphone. Many high-end smartphones are waterproof, but what exactly can you expect from them? This is indicated by a so-called IP rating. This is what that means.

It was big news recently that OnePlus 8 Pro received such an IP rating. When OnePlus 7 was introduced last year, the phone company made quite a thing of it not going for an expensive IP rating. For example, they did not have to pass the costs on to customers. This year it decided to go for such a rating, because it would give customers more confidence in the watertightness of the device. Is that really the case? There is a lot of difference between one or the other IP rating.

This is what IP rating stands for

An IP rating consists of two parts. IP stands for Ingress Protection (protection degree) and after that two numbers always follow, which are written one after the other. The first number indicates the degree to which the device can withstand dirt and dust, the second about water. Please note, this is pure water, so no seawater (with salt) that often has major consequences for material. The higher the number, the better the protection. And that goes very far.

For example, a 1 ensures that solid objects of more than 50 millimeters cannot penetrate the device. With a 4 this is already the case with 10 millimeters. The highest number of dust is a 6: if your phone has a 6, no dust will enter the device. In terms of water, the device with a 1 rating is protected against vertically falling drops. l. So rain. If it has a 4, water can be sprayed from all sides without entering the device. The highest water rating is 8.

A smartphone can therefore be underwater for a longer period of time, under pressure, without this water penetrating the device. However, that does not mean that you should go scuba diving with it, even if you could do that in fresh water: it actually means that a device can be kept 1.5 meters under water for up to half an hour, without the water entering. If there is an X in the IP rating, the device has not been tested on either of the two options.

Not necessarily waterproof

Keep this in mind when you purchase a device. You can think, oh it’s waterproof, so I can just go swimming with it: that’s not how it works. You should always be careful with telephones near water, because these are still electrical appliances. It is more about accidents: if your device does fall into the water, you know that there is a chance that he will survive, even without having to look at rice.

Although nowadays most ports are also waterproofed, there have been several phones in the past where you got a special attachment that you had to plug into your ports when you walked in the rain. Far from ideal, especially because it is difficult to prove that you had this piece in your phone or not when the device was damaged by water.

ATM rating

Smartwatches often do not use an IP rating, but an ATM rating. This is a bit closer to diving, because it looks at the atmosphere and the pressure exerted on a wearable when pressed underwater. An ATM of 1 means: do not put in water, while a 20 means that you can surf or jet ski with it (you can even put pressure on it 200 meters under the sea).

IP ratings may make you feel more secure over a phone, but be aware that it is not a guarantee. Even if your phone comes out of the box perfectly and breaks down after a splash in a container of plain water, you won’t have a leg to stand on when it comes to warranty. Whether a phone has an IP rating or not: piece is broken.

In addition, there are many other factors that can still be disastrous for the device, such as scratches and cracks. An IP rating is therefore only to give you a more comfortable feeling about accidents that can happen to the device, because the chance that the device is damaged is smaller. However, if this does happen, your supplier must be very accommodating if he wants to repair your smartphone free of charge.


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