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What is IP68? IP ratings explained

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S7 IP68

The recently unveiled Samsung Galaxy S7 will ship with an IP68 rating. So what exactly does that mean?

A cursory glance at the press or early hands-on images for the Samsung Galaxy S7 will tip you off to the fact that IP68 might mean a phone is water proof. That's not strictly accurate, and nor does it tell the whole story of what it signifies.

Join us as we take a look at the IP rating system, and what exactly IP68 means.

Check out our Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge video below:

IP address

First up, let's address what IP actually means. It stands for 'Ingress Protection'.

This is a rating system set forth by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to inform consumers of how well protected an electronic device is against foreign bodies.

An IP rating actually tells you two things about the device it's attributed to - how well it resists water ingress, and how well it resists dust ingress.

Related: Galaxy S6 vs S6 Active: Is tougher better?

Galaxy S7 waterproof

Numbers game

This two-stage rating is what the two numbers following the 'IP' part stand for.

The first number always corresponds to how resistant to solid objects the device is, right down to and including dust, while the second number relates to its level of water resistance.

Perhaps confusingly, the two scales are configured a little differently. For starters, dust resistance is marked from 0 to 6, while water resistance goes from 0 to 8.

In general, the higher the number the better. However, the water rating operates slightly differently beyond IPX6. Just because a device has secured a 7 or 8 on the liquid ingress side of things, doesn't mean it's automatically been tested for IPs 1 through to 6.

This is why something like the Sony Xperia Z5 has been given both an IP68 and an IP65 rating. This means that it can withstand light water jets as well as full immersion, and is thus more water resistant than the Samsung Galaxy S7.

We doubt many phones would take kindly to the "Powerful water jets" that an IPX6 rating requires.

Sony

IP68

Given the aforementioned information, you can probably figure out that the IP68 rating given to the Samsung Galaxy S7 and Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge is fairly strong.

While this means that the phone is completely dust resistant, again it isn't quite so simple for the liquid ingress rating.

Instead, it means that the phone is "protected from immersion in water with a depth of more than 1 meter," according to the IEC. The usage case supplied for this is "Rain, splashing and accidental submersion."

The IEC requires that the manufacturer itself supplies the precise depth and length of time the device can be exposed to water in such a rating, and in the Galaxy S7's case Samsung says that it can withstand "Up to 30 minutes or 1.5 meters under (water)".

Get a great deal on the Galaxy S6 Edge at Amazon

S5

Small advances

On paper, the main advance from older IP67-rated phones like the Samsung Galaxy S5 to the IP68-rated Samsung Galaxy S7 is a simple matter of depth. The newer phone can withstand water ingress to a half-metre greater depth.

In real world usage, though, an IP68 phone and an IP67 phone are pretty much equally dust and water resistant. As already mentioned, a more meaningful advance would have been the addition of an IP65 rating.

Of course, there has been a genuine improvement from the environmental sealing of the Galaxy S5 to that of the Galaxy S7, and that's the fact that the latter no longer requires a clunky rubber stopper for its microUSB port. All the sealing work is properly integrated and internal, so you won't have to remember to 'shut the door' before you take a dip in the bath.

You may have seen mention of a ninth rating on the IP liquid ingress scale, but this was added by a separate regulatory body, and relates to products that can withstand close range, high-power, high-temperature water jets. We doubt you'll be seeing that in a phone any time soon.

Do you thing an IP rating is an important feature in a modern smartphone? Let us know in the comments.

Damon Hill

February 23, 2016, 7:59 pm

An IP rating is incredibly important for a smartphone! I have ruined 3 previous devices due to accidental water-immersion. As we all know. We now pretty much carry our entire lives in our smartphones nowadays. Losing access to that information, even temporarily, is a huge hassle. Not to mention the cost of replacing the device. So yes! An IP rating is necessary. Hopefully all manufacturers will reengineer their devices to make them more robust.

toboev

February 24, 2016, 6:13 pm

Samsung says that it can withstand "Up to 30 minutes or 1.5 meters under (water)".

"Or"? So not both.Either 30 minutes, or 1.5m under water. I'm struggling to make any sense out of that.

Tim Kelly

February 27, 2016, 5:10 pm

I was wondering about that as well

Bruno

February 28, 2016, 11:11 pm

Hi Jon, what about listen to music trough speaker and answer calls in the shower? Could high temperatures and steam damage in this case Ssmsung S7?

Lexster

March 1, 2016, 6:19 pm

Does anyone know why the 30 minutes matters? I see that often, but why would the time make a difference? If the phone can keep water out for 30 minutes, why couldn't it keep it out for an hour at the same depth ? Or a day? Is that time limit just how long they tested for, essentially? So they know it can last for at least 30 minutes?

Erwin Anciano

March 9, 2016, 8:41 am

It'll last up to 30 minutes guaranteed. Any longer than that and the water can start to leak. Not that it necessarily will, but staying in water for prolonged periods of time means more pressure is exerted on to it than usual, and that can cause failure in the waterproofing seals.

Erwin Anciano

March 9, 2016, 8:42 am

Ip68 is dust and water proof, not temperature proof. High temperatures and steam will damage the phone.

The speaker and answering calls will work in the shower, though.

Erwin Anciano

March 9, 2016, 8:43 am

No they mean both. It can withstand up to 30 minutes at a 1.5m depth. Any more than that and the pressure will probably cause leaks.

Rose baird

March 19, 2016, 5:35 pm

I am a kayaker. Would I be able to carry this phone on trips. Is it completely water proof when out of the water e.g. kept in buoyancy aid pocket while kayaking. It would be in a damp pocket as I get splashed in the rapids. If I capsized it would only be under the water for seconds before I rolled up.

andy b

April 8, 2016, 12:15 pm

youll be fine. just dont under the water more than 1.5 meters or longer than 30 minutes any depth.

Juan Navarrete

May 6, 2016, 8:48 pm

Having an IP68 rating was a huge factor in determining whether I was going to get an iphone 6 or a Samsung Galaxy S7. It was an easy choice after having a Galaxy S3 go underwater several times while turned on and never having any issues.

Diana Lie

May 15, 2016, 12:33 pm

I wonder if it just means water, pure water. How about other liquid like alcohol, wine, or soap?

Henrè

June 1, 2016, 5:22 pm

IP68 means dust poof and water resistant for moe than 1m and prolonged time. 30min is not a long time.

Jens Hansen

June 2, 2016, 10:46 am

The object in question seems relevant for deciding what constitutes "a long time". For phones, that generally aren't submerged for longer than it takes to say "oh, crap!" and fish it out of whatever you dropped it into, 30 minutes is close to forever.

Henrè

June 2, 2016, 10:51 am

That is true I guess. I wantedto take underwater videos of my kid learning to swim, it will now have to be short videos.

Henrè

June 2, 2016, 10:52 am

Heat will also let the watertight seal (glue) come loose

Henrè

June 2, 2016, 10:53 am

What about soapy water? Like a bathtub?

Lionheartwolf

June 2, 2016, 11:43 pm

You are probably not going to find yourself in a situation where your phone will be submerged in a liquid less viscous than water unless you are literally the absent minded professor...

Lionheartwolf

June 2, 2016, 11:44 pm

Because water is very good at penetrating any surface given enough time. For example the grand canyon was water resistant for up to about 6 million years.

Diana Lie

June 3, 2016, 12:01 am

Well, i imagine if i use the phone while i'm in bath tub with water n soap filled and then it drops, will it survive. And also for a clean freak like me who wish to soak the phone in alcohol after i go outside which of course it will contaminated by many bacteria. Phone is the most dirty things, if u ever read article about it and its true. I'm disappointed that even the highest ip rate still can not fulfill my need. My old phone goes along with music playing on my ears, put it on my pocket jeans while I'm walking down the pouring heavy rain several times, no need ip rate for that...

Jens Hansen

June 3, 2016, 10:39 am

If it were me, I'd get a GoPro for that.

Hopefully we will end up in a place where phones are as sturdy, but for now I'd assume that any phone that states its waterproof, really just means it'll survive water related accidents.

Having said that, if your kid is underwater for 30 consecutive minutes while learning to swim, you have bigger issues at hand than a broken phone. :p

John Bucci

June 18, 2016, 9:53 pm

My LG V10 lasted from November 2015 to June 2016. a drop of water destroyed the phone. Now I have the S7 Edge and I have ran it by an open tap running water.
a small pop up window detects the moisture and warns you to wait until you attempt to charge it. the reason it is 30 minutes is because there is a water resistant cloth protecting the charge port and speaker area. like some running shoes, the water gets through eventually. the S7 Edge is pretty awesome. as is the wireless fast charger.

bassel mabsout

June 19, 2016, 4:15 pm

i think alcohol is an insulator so even if it gets anywhere it wont cause damage

Diana Lie

June 21, 2016, 4:39 am

hmm... I think it's true. it is an insulator and if the material ain't plastic, alcohol should not react to glass and aluminium, but I honestly have worries if even the store doesn't dare to do any demo. Thank you Bassel mabsout.

Prince Vasquez

June 23, 2016, 6:41 am

Today 6/23/2016 2:40PM +8 GMT, we will be going back to Samsung service center for the SECOND time due to phone malfunction after it was submerged under water (not even deeper than 1 foot) (and not even longer than 2minutes) ... first time, the charging port was broken... we let it pass and have it repaired under warranty.. the second time around, the water came in to the system, shutting it down and you can see the moist on the front camera... so we demanded a REPLACEMENT from SAMSUNG PHILIPPINES. But they don't want to replace, since they claim it is repairable. So here is the BIG QUESTION, why is it advertised that the S7 is IP68 then this happened to us, not once but TWICE... Samsung wont even replace our UNIT which makes me furious. The unit is with us for about 3 months only. As I understand, this is their flagship mobile phone, but why did they let this happen to us? It is kind of funny because I was demonstrating the "power of s7" to my friends by dipping it to the water... then suddenly these things happened (instant humiliation, thanks to Samsung). I will have the repair receipts later with all their diagnostics...if you want a copy just let me know. I am just a concerned "EARTHLING" sending this to all people who are planning to get the "TOP OF THE LINE" Samsung S7.

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