IP67 vs IP68: Waterproof IP ratings explained

IP67 vs IP68: We explain how they’re different and why you should care

IP67 and IP68 are terms that are likely to crop up when researching a smartphone. But what do they mean? And what’s the difference between them? Let’s find out.

IP67 vs IP68: What do IP ratings mean?

IP is the name of the standard that was drawn up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to determine how resistant an electrical device is to fresh water and common raw materials – like dirt, dust and sand.

The first digit after IP is the rating the IEC assigned a unit for its resistance to solids. In this case, it’s six – which means no “harmful” dust or dirt seeped into the unit after being in direct contact with the matter eight-hours.

Solid Protection
IP Code Protection
1 Protection from contact with any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part
2 Protection from fingers or similar objects
3 Protection from tools, thick wires or similar objects
4 Protection from most wires, screws or similar objects
5 Partial protection from contact with harmful dust
6 Protection from contact with harmful dust

Next we have the water resistance rating.

There are two leading ratings at present – seven and eight, with the former meaning that the device can be submerged in up to one meter of fresh water for half an hour, and the latter up to 1.5 meters for half an hour.

Moisture Protection
IP Code Protection
1 Protection against vertically dripping water
2 Protection against vertically dripping water when device is tilted at an angle up to 15 degrees
3 Protection against direct sprays of water when device is tilted at an angle up to 60 degrees
4 Protection from sprays and splashing of water in all directions.
5 Protection from low-pressure water projected from a nozzle with a 6.3mm diameter opening in any direction
6 Protection from water projected in powerful jets from a nozzle with a 12.5mm diameter opening in any direction
7 Protected from immersion in water with a depth of up to 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) for up to 30 mins
8 Protected from immersion in water with a depth of more than 1 meter (manufacturer must specify exact depth)

And that’s how IP ratings are formed.

To recap: IP67 means the unit can be dropped into a body of water up to a meter deep for half an hour, while IP68 guarantees protection in water up to 30 meters deep for the same period of time. Both are resistant to dust.

IP67 vs IP68: But what about other liquids?

Let’s be clear here: the rating the International Electrotechnical Commission assigns is strictly for fresh water. That means it doesn’t guarantee protection from submersion in other liquids – beer, coffee, salt water and soda, to name but a few.

So if you spill a pint of your favourite lager on an IP67 or IP68-rated handset and quickly shake it off, it should be fine, albeit a little smelly and sticky. But if you leave it to rest in the goop for a prolonged amount of time, it could conk out… for good.

IP67 vs IP68: Can I swim with my smartphone?

We certainly wouldn’t recommend it. When the IEC tests a smartphone it’s done under lab conditions, with the handset in standby mode – not in a swimming pool full of various chemicals used to cleanse the water.

The same applies to the ocean. Saline water is infamously full of salt, a mineral device-makers stress isn’t tested when the unit is being put through its paces for an IP rating, so we’d also strongly suggest steering clear of that.

In 2015, Sony released promotional photos showing a new IP68-certified Xperia handset being used to take a picture underwater. It later controversially altered its stance, instructing buyers to not use the device underwater.

sony waterproof

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“Remember not to use the device underwater,” the firm said in a statement issued to customers. “The IP rating of your device was achieved in laboratory conditions in standby mode, so you should not use the device underwater,” it added.

IP67 vs IP68: What else do I need to know?

It’s always worth checking the documentation on a manufacturer’s website to see what, if any, exceptions to the rating it’s drawn up. Apple, for example, has some strict caveats for the Apple Watch’s water resistance.

On its website, it writes:

Submerging your Apple Watch isn’t recommended. Water resistance isn’t a permanent condition, and your Apple Watch can’t be rechecked or resealed for water resistance. The following should be avoided:

  • Dropping your Apple Watch or subjecting it to other impacts.
  • Submerging your Apple Watch in water for long periods of time.
  • Swimming or bathing with your Apple Watch.
  • Exposing your Apple Watch to pressurised water or high velocity water, for example, showering, water * skiing, wake boarding, surfing, jet skiing, and so on.
  • Wearing your Apple Watch in a sauna or steam room.