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Blog: What Does The IP Rating Mean?

The most recent smartphones often have an IP rating. But what does the IP-rating stand for? What does the IP rating mean? Let’s “dive” into the meaning of this rating system.



Introduction

Almost all recent smartphones have an IP rating, but why do you need a good IP rating? Does it add value and what does all the rating mean? There are so many questions! A lot of people explained it already, but I felt like I can not skip this and had to write about it. More and more devices get an IP-rating, so let’s have a look at what it means!

IP Ratings

The IP Code, International Protection Marking, IEC standard 60529, sometimes interpreted as Ingress Protection Marking, classifies and rates the degree of protection provided against intrusion (body parts such as hands and fingers), dust, accidental contact, and water by mechanical casings and electrical enclosures. It is published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The equivalent European standard is EN 60529.

IP Rating First Digit

The IP Rating is built up with 2 digits and possibly some additional letters. The first digit is about solid particle protection. The higher the letter, the better the score.

First digit: Solid particle protection
Level sized
Effective againstDescription
0
No protection against contact and ingress of objects
1
>50 mmAny large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part
2
>12.5 mmFingers or similar objects
3
>2.5 mmTools, thick wires, etc.
4
>1 mmMost wires, slender screws, large ants etc.
5
Dust protectedIngress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it must not enter in sufficient quantity to interfere with the satisfactory operation of the equipment.
6
Dust tightNo ingress of dust; complete protection against contact (dust tight). A vacuum must be applied. Test duration of up to 8 hours based on air flow.

IP Rating Second Digit

The second digit also gives a rating about protection, only this time it is liquid protection. This digit is about liquid ingress protection. The higher the second digit, the better.

Second digit: Liquid ingress protection
LevelProtection AgainstEffective Against
0
NoneNone
1
Dripping waterDripping water (vertically falling drops) shall have no harmful effect on the specimen when mounted in an upright position onto a turntable and rotated at 1 RPM.
2
Dripping water when tilted at 15°Vertically dripping water shall have no harmful effect when the enclosure is tilted at an angle of 15° from its normal position. A total of four positions are tested within two axes.
3
Spraying waterWater falling as a spray at any angle up to 60° from the vertical shall have no harmful effect, utilizing either: a) an oscillating fixture, or b) A spray nozzle with a counterbalanced shield.
4
Splashing of waterWater splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect, utilizing either: a) an oscillating fixture, or b) A spray nozzle with no shield.
Test a) is conducted for 10 minutes. Test b) is conducted (without shield) for 5 minutes minimum.
5
Water jetsWater projected by a nozzle (6.3 mm) against enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
6
Powerful water jetsWater projected in powerful jets (12.5 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effects.
6K
Powerful water jets with increased pressureWater projected in powerful jets (6.3 mm nozzle) against the enclosure from any direction, under elevated pressure, shall have no harmful effects. Found in DIN 40050, and not IEC 60529.
7
Immersion, up to 1 m depthIngress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).
8
Immersion, 1 m or more depthThe equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer.
9K
Powerful high temperature water jetsProtected against close-range high pressure, high temperature spray downs.
Smaller specimens rotate slowly on a turntable, from 4 specific angles. Larger specimens are mounted upright, no turntable required, and are tested freehand for at least 3 minutes at distance of 0.15–0.2 m.

Additional Letters

There are some additional letters which over different areas. Here is what the letters mean:

Additional Letters 
Letter:
Meaning:
D
Wire
f
Oil Resistant
H
High voltage device
M
Device moving during water test
S
Device standig still during water test
W
Weather conditions



Examples

To give you an idea on how to read the numbers and what they mean, here are two examples and I will explain their rating:

Zeblaze Crystal 2

The Zeblaze Crystal 2 has an IP rating of IP67. If we look at this, we see that there is no additional number, so we can just look at the first two tables.

The first digit is a 6, if we look at the table, we see that that means that it is dust tight. No dust will come into the Zeblaze Crystal 2. The second digit is a 7 and this means that it is protected to immersion, 1m or more depth. Ingress of water in harmful quantity shall not be possible when the enclosure is immersed in water under defined conditions of pressure and time (up to 1 m of submersion).

No.1 F13

This other smartwatch, the No.1 F13, has an IP rating of IP68.

The first digit is the same as above and it is completely protected against dust. There is just one difference, and that is the last digit. In this case, it has the number 8 as last digit. This has a slightly different meaning then the 7 we had above. The equipment is suitable for continuous immersion in water under conditions which shall be specified by the manufacturer.

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