The last time we took the dogs to the local park and beach, it was only natural that we took them in the water to give them a cool down.

But wait, there was an iPhone 6S in my pocket, which wouldn’t have ended well, and that gets you wondering: why doesn’t everything device have water resistance, and what does “waterproof” even mean when you’re talking about electronics, things that normally break when water touches them?

IP ratings, and what water resistance really means

You’ve probably seen the term “IP” in places, but what does this really mean, and how does it relate to the world of gadgets?

To put it bluntly, the letter “IP” when attached to numbers stand for “Ingress Protection”, and this is a rating and code as it applies to products based on if elements can find their way inside.

The rating is specified and published by the International Electrotechnical Commission, and essentially it’s an international standard for proofing products against dust and water, with the two numbers to the right of the “IP” relating to that.

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The first number you’ll see is about dust, with zero (0) being no protection, and numbers one (1) through five (5) being about certainly level of protection, while six (6) is dust tight.

An IP rating’s second number is about liquids, with a rating of zero (0) being no protection once again, and the ratings one (1) through to nine (9) relating to the varying levels of protection.

In both of these, the higher the number, the more resistance, and that’s the crux of what you need to know.

If you see “IP68”, the product is fairly resistant, being dust-proof and built for up to three metres of liquid immersion, while a rating of “IPx8” technically means proofed and tested for that water rating of eight (8), while its dust proofing might not have been specifically tested.

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Now that you know what the IP ratings mean, you need to understand that the testing for these gadgets is done with “freshwater” or “clearwater”, what most of us know as standard tap water.

That’s the standard stuff, with no extra bottles or chemicals here. IP tests also aren’t done with super spiffy arrives-in-blue-glass-bottles water, so don’t expect the teams working with their tests to be situated next to the Evian water facility, because you don’t need special spring or mineral water to do water testing.

Basic standard water is what they’re testing for, which is pretty much the same stuff that comes down in the rain, which might be one of the main reasons the devices are tested this way.

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