What is an IP rating?

What is an IP rating?

When assessing a phone’s level of protection, you need to consider the IP rating. There are multiple levels of IP that have their own meaning, and in this guide we’ll be breaking down each one to make understanding them easy.

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What do IP ratings mean?

IP stands for ‘ingress protection’, and it refers to how effectively an electrical item can keep out contaminants such as dust and water. It also signifies how well the item protects against exposed electrical parts.

The system is designed to be universal, meaning everyone should be able to read an IP rating and know what level of protection it provides, regardless of the item in question.

What are the different IP ratings?

IP ratings are composed of two numbers: the first represents protection against solids like dust particles, and the second is how well the phone keeps out moisture and liquids.

Below are the levels of ingress protection afforded by both numbers:

First number

0Not rated for protection against solids
1 – Protection against solids larger than 50mm
2 – Protection against solids larger than 12mm
3 - Protection against solids larger than 2.5mm
4 - Protection against **solids larger **than 1mm
5 - Protection against most solids and particles. Contaminants are unlikely to affect performance
6Full protection against solids and particles. Vacuum sealed


Second number

0Not rated for protection against liquids
1 – Protection against condensation droplets
2 – Protection against droplets when enclosure is tilted at 15°
3 – Protection against droplets and moisture when enclosure is tilted at 60°
4 – Protection against splashing water at any angle
5 - Protection against low-pressure water submersion up to 6.3mm
6 - Protection against high-pressure water submersion up to 12.5mm
7 - Protection against full immersion for 30 minutes at depths between 15cm and 1m
8 –Protection against full immersion in high-pressure water environments
9Full protection against high-pressure immersion and high-temperature water streams

On some smartphones, you might see an ‘X’ in place of a number; this indicates that the device has no rating against that ingress type. As an example, IP6X means the phone in question has no protection rating against liquid ingress.


Why is the IP rating important?

Beyond its role as a protective measure, a phone’s IP rating is also important when choosing one to buy. If you intend to use your phone in environments around water or those that are more prone to contaminant, it’s recommended to buy a handset with a higher IP rating such as IP68 or IP69. For example, at a festival, your phone might be more likely to come into contact with mud or dust. These ratings should also be considered if you want to use your phone around the pool.

A lower IP rating is perfectly acceptable if your phone use is limited to home or during the commute.

You now know everything there is to know about IP ratings, including the role they play on smartphones. If you have an iPhone and want to give your handset some extra protection, take a look at our guide on the top cases you should consider.