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What is IP54? The water resistance rating explained

If you’re shopping for a new smartphone, smartwatch or pair of wireless earbuds, you may have come across the term IP54. 

But, what exactly does IP54 mean and how does it relate to the water resistance level of a device? 

What is IP54? 

IP54 is an IP rating just like IPX7, IPX8, IP65 and IP68

An IP – or Ingress Protection – rating is a standard used to describe how well a particular device can stand up to dust and water, with a higher set of numbers indicating a higher level of protection. 

The first number (in this case, 5) points to how well a device can withstand solid intrusions, such as dust. The second number (4 here) tells us how well that same piece of tech can withstand liquids, like water. 

The solids scale ranges from 0 to 6, while the liquids scale ranges from 0 to 9. That puts an IP rating of IP54 on the higher end when it comes to withstanding dust, but only about halfway through the scale for water resistance. 

Is IP54 waterproof? 

So, is IP54 considered waterproof? In short, no. However, IP54-rated devices do offer a limited level of water resistance. 

According to the International Electrotechnical Commission, a rating of 5 for solids would indicate that an IP54-certified device is dust-protected, just not dust-tight. 

However, when it comes to liquids, a rating of 4 points toward a device that is only protected against splashing water. 

“Water splashed against the enclosure from any direction will have no harmful effects,” asserts the IEC’s Ingress Protection rating guide

While this does mean that an IP54-rated device carries a level of water resistance, it still leaves the device susceptible to damage if faced with jets of water, or temporary or continuous immersion in water. Basically, you won’t want to take your IP54-certified devices out in heavy rain or a dip in the pool. 

What devices are IP54 certified?  

IP54 isn’t a common IP rating for smartphones, with many flagship handsets from companies like Apple, Samsung and Google carrying water resistance ratings of IP68 these days.

We have reviewed quite a few headphones that sport IP54 ratings, however. This includes the Bowers and Wilkins Pi7 S2 and Pi5, the Bang and Olufsen Beoplay EQ and the Huawei FreeBuds Pro 2.

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