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What is IPX4? The water resistance rating explained

If you’re shopping for a new smartphone, speaker, headphones or watch, you might have come across the term IPX4. Here’s what it means. 

Many tech products these days carry an IP (Ingress Protection) rating. These ratings are designed to give consumers an idea of exactly how much dust and water a device can withstand. This lets you know if it’s safe to take your smartwatch swimming or if you should be shielding your headphones from the rain. 

Here’s what it means when a device is rated IPX4. 

What is IPX4? 

To understand what IPX4 means, we need to look at what each number (and in this case, X) signifies. 

In an IP rating, the first number after ‘IP’ represents protection against solids, such as dust, while the second number points to protection against liquids, i.e. water resistance. 

The letter X means that the device is not certified to withstand any amount of dust or other solids. 

IP ratings
Image: IEC

As you can see in the chart above (via the IEC), the number 4 tells us that the device is resistant to water only at a splash level. This means the device can be worn on rainy days and while washing your hands but should not be submerged in water. 

What devices are IPX4? 

IPX4 is an IP rating commonly found across cheap to mid-range running headphones and running watches due to its protection against rain and sweat. More advanced fitness trackers are more likely to be fully waterproof with ratings such as 5 ATM allowing them to support features like swim tracking.

Examples of other popular earbuds that carry a rating of IPX4 include the Sony WF-1000XM5, the Bose QuietComfort Ultra and the Pixel Buds Pro.

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