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What is IP68? IP ratings explained


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.

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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.



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)".

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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.

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