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This Number Tells You How Waterproof Your Phone Is

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photo: Retailer

None of us want to replace our pricey gadgets due to a water mishap or tiny, pesky particles mucking up their internal parts. Thankfully, most modern smartphones, wireless earbuds, and Bluetooth speakers have some form of water and dust protection to keep them safe from the rough and tumble of daily life. Just how much protection is indicated by what’s called an IP rating. But unless you dive into the International Electronic Commission’s charts to understand what the numbers associated with an IP rating mean, it’s hard to know how protected your gadgets are.

An IP rating consists of two numbers with the first number indicating how protected your device is against solid foreign objects such as small pieces of dirt or dust, while the second indicates how it stands up to water. If either number is replaced by an X, it means the device was not tested for that protection.

For the rating against solid objects, the numbers range from 0 to 6. A rating of IP0X indicates that the device has zero protection against solid objects (and wasn’t tested for water damage). Ratings 1 through 4 indicate the size of the particles your device is protected against, ranging from 50mm down to 1mm. A rating of 5 up until 6 tells you the degree your device is protected against dust, with 6 being the most sealed.

That second number, which indicates how resistant your device is to water damage, ranges from 0 to 9. As with the dust rating, 0 indicates zero protection while 1 and 2 indicate the level of protection against vertical drops of water, which can come in handy if you need to use your phone in the rain. Numbers 3 through 6 indicate the level of protection against spraying water and water jets, and numbers 7 through 9 show that your device is safe from varying levels of submersion into water. A device with an IPX7 rating has temporary protection against submersion underwater for up to 30 minutes, while a device with an IPX9 rating has additional protection against high-pressure water jets.

None of this should take precedence over properly caring for your devices. Above all else, be careful with how you handle your gadgets, where and when you use them, and what you expose them to. Still, checking that IP rating, which is typically listed in the specs page for a given product, before clicking the “buy” button can give you the assurance that your gear will be fine through a bit of turmoil.

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This Number Tells You How Waterproof Your Phone Is