Can your phone survive a rainstorm? How about a sandstorm?

Whenever a new mobile phone is announced, like the new iPhone 12, there’s always a big fuss around its IP rating. With lots of different IP ratings, it's handy to know what they mean. This way you can choose a phone that's perfect for you!

Some of you may want a phone that’s waterproof, able to withstand little splashes when you’re doing the pots, or even survive being submerged in water for a period of time.

Some of you may be thrill seekers who love to go mountain biking and need a phone that can deal with a little dirt and dust. Or maybe you work in a job that means you get your hands dirty and need a device that won’t shriek at the sight of mud.

So what's an IP rating? Well, IP rating stands for Ingress Protection rating, and the number that follows it is a standard code that has been set by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It classifies what level of protection is provided to the device by its enclosures.

So, that’s one question answered. But what do all the specific IP ratings actually represent? Is a higher number better? We’ve had a look through the different codes and will share exactly what each one means to you.

What does IP68 mean?

This is the IP rating that many of you will be most familiar with. Those of you with an iPhone will likely recognise IP68 - but have you ever wondered what it means?

An iPhone laid on a table.
What does IP68 mean? 

IP68 is said to be the best rating that you can have for your device – providing users with protection from dust and submersion in water! The exact conditions will be supplied by your mobile phone manufacturer.

The 8 at the end means the phone has been tested at depths more than 1 metre and found to be unharmed. For example, the new iPhone 12 boasts an IP68 rating for water resistance meaning you can submerge the device in up to 6 metres of water for up to 30 minutes.

The Samsung Galaxy S20 series can resist submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5m in fresh water for up to 30 minutes. Each brand of phone is different – so it’s important you check this out.

Someone holding the Samsung Galaxy S20.
The Samsung Galaxy S20 boasts an IP68 rating.

What does IP65 mean?

Some of you lucky people might notice that your device has more than one IP rating like the Sony Xperia Z5 – which boasts both IP68 and IP65 ratings!

Someone holding the Sony Xperia Z5.
The Sony Xperia Z5.

We’ve explored what the IP68 rating stands for above, but the IP65 rating means that the device can also handle being sprayed. Perfect for those summer water fights!

Mobiles phones with an IP65 rating have been tested using water that’s projected by a 6.3mm nozzle – meaning it can survive a downpour of rain or getting wet in the shower.

What does IP53 mean?

Some devices have an IP53 rating, meaning that they’re protected against dust, in so much as their inner workings won’t be compromised if dust were to get inside. They’re also protected against spraying water, with no pressure when tilted up to a 60-degree angle.

What does IPX7 mean?

Some of you may notice that your mobile has an IPX7 rating, which will no doubt get you wondering what exactly the X stands for. If you own the first generation Apple Watch, IPX7 is a rating that you may be familiar with.

The good news is that devices with this rating are protected against immersion in water up to a depth of 1 metre for 30 minutes, with no protection against dust particles, however. So, if your mobile or watch has this rating, you’re good against splashes but you might want to stay away from sandstorms!

It’s important to know that an IPX7 rating does not mean that the device is waterproof but is splash and water resistant. So, your first generation Apple Watch can hack a run in the rain but wearing it while you swim for an hour means it may suffer a terrible fate!

A close up of the first generation Apple Watch.
The first generation Apple Watch has an IPX7 rating.

With winter fast approaching and the UK inevitably subjected to months of rain, wind, and muddy walks – there’s no better time to understand what your phone’s IP rating means! Can it withstand the treacherous rainfall that’s on its way or the snow we pray for every year? Now you know!