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What is IP68? The IP rating explained

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone or pair of earbuds, you may have come across the term “IP68”. But, what does it mean? 

The Samsung Galaxy S22, the iPhone 13 and the Google Pixel 6 are examples of popular devices rated IP68, but not every phone, smartwatch or headphone carries this rating. 

Read on to discover everything you need to know about IP68, including what an IP rating is and how the numbers break down. 

What is IP68? 

IP68 is an example of an IP – or Ingress Protection – rating. 

An IP rating is a code that essentially signifies how water and/or dust resistant a piece of tech is by measuring the effectiveness of its seal when it comes to keeping liquids, dust and dirt out. 

The standard for determining these ratings was developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and is published under the title IEC 60529. 

IP ratings typically include two numbers. The first digit refers to its ability to keep solids out, while the second addresses liquids, like water or sweat. If there’s an “X” somewhere in the IP rating (for example, IPX5), that means the device has a certain level of protection against water or dust but is not rated for the digit marked X. 

Below is a breakdown of what each number means as defined by the IEC:

First digit (solids): 

  • 0 – No protection
  • 1 – Protected against solid foreign objects of 50 mm Ø and greater 
  • 2 – Protected against solid foreign objects of 12.5mm Ø and greater 
  • 3 – Protected against solid foreign objects of 2.5mm Ø and greater 
  • 4 – Protected against solid foreign objects of 1.0mm Ø and greater 
  • 5 – Dust-protected
  • 6 – Dust-tight 

Second digit (liquids): 

  • 0 – No protection 
  • 1 – Protected against vertically falling water drops 
  • 2 – Protected against vertically falling water drops when enclosure tilted up to 15°
  • 3 – Protected against spraying water 
  • 4 – Protected against splashing water 
  • 5 – Protected against water jets 
  • 6 – Protected against powerful water jets 
  • 7 – Protected against the effects of temporary immersion in water 
  • 8 – Protected against the effects of continuous immersion in water 
  • 9 – Protected against high pressure and temperature water jets 

This means that a device rated IP68 will be both dust-tight and protected against the effects of continuous immersion in water. 

In fact, 6 is the highest dust resistance rating possible on this scale.

In the case of water resistance, the IEC expands on 8, stating that “ingress of water in quantities causing harmful effects shall not be possible when the enclosure is continuously immersed in water under conditions which shall be agreed between the manufacturer and user but which are more severe than for numeral 7”. 

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