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March 30, 2019 3 min read

www.trustedreviews.com -Max Parker

IP67 vs IP68: We explain how they’re different and why you should care

IP67, IP68 and waterproofing are terms that are bound to surface when researching a smartwatch.

IP67 vs IP68: What do IP ratings mean?

Firstly it’s worth noting that there’s a difference between being waterproof and water-resistant. Waterproof means something is impervious to water regardless of how long it is submerged, water-resistant means a product can stop water from entering it to some degree, but not entirely. When we’re talking about the smartwatch, it’s almost always about how water-resistant they are. They can’t survive in water indefinitely.

IP is the name of the standard that was drawn up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to determine how resistant an electrical device is to fresh water and common raw materials – like dirt, dust and sand. 

The first digit after IP is the rating the IEC assigned a unit for its resistance to solids. In this case, it’s six – which means no “harmful” dust or dirt seeped into the unit after being in direct contact with the matter eight-hours.

 

IP Code

Protection

1

Protection from contact with any large surface of the body, such as the back of a hand, but no protection against deliberate contact with a body part

2

Protection from fingers or similar objects

3

Protection from tools, thick wires or similar objects

4

Protection from most wires, screws or similar objects

5

Partial protection from contact with harmful dust

6

Protection from contact with harmful dust 

 

Next, we have the water resistance rating.

There are two leading ratings at present – seven and eight, with the former meaning that the device can be submerged in up to one meter of fresh water for half an hour, and the latter up to 1.5 meters for half an hour.

IP Code

Protection

1

Protection against vertically dripping water

2

Protection against vertically dripping water when the device is tilted at an angle up to 15 degrees

3

Protection against direct sprays of water when the device is tilted at an angle up to 60 degrees

4

Protection from sprays and splashing of water in all directions.

5

Protection from low-pressure water projected from a nozzle with a 6.3mm diameter opening in any direction

6

Protection from water projected in powerful jets from a nozzle with a 12.5mm diameter opening in any direction

7

Protected from immersion in water with a depth of up to 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) for up to 30 mins

8

Protected from immersion in water with a depth of more than 1 meter (manufacturer must specify exact depth)

 

To recap: IP67 means the unit can be dropped into a body of water up to a meter deep for half an hour, while IP68 guarantees protection in water up to 1.5m deep for the same period of time. Both are resistant to dust.

IP67 vs IP68: But what about other liquids?

Let’s be clear here: the rating the International Electrotechnical Commission assigns is strictly for fresh water. That means it doesn’t guarantee protection from submersion in other liquids – beer, coffee, salt water and soda, to name but a few.

So if you spill a pint of your favourite lager on an IP67 or IP68-rated watch and quickly shake it off, it should be fine, albeit a little smelly and sticky. But if you leave it to rest in the goop for a prolonged amount of time, it could break… for good.

IP67 vs IP68: Can I swim with my smartwatch?

We certainly wouldn’t recommend swimming with your phone. When the IEC tests a watch it’s done under lab conditions, with the watch in standby mode – not in a swimming pool full of various chemicals used to cleanse the water.

The same applies to the ocean. Seawater is full of salt, a mineral device-makers stress isn’t tested when the unit is being put through its paces for an IP rating, so we’d also strongly suggest steering clear of that.

IP67 vs IP68: What else do I need to know?

It’s always worth checking the documentation on a manufacturer’s website to see what, if any, exceptions to the rating it’s drawn up.

This just goes to show that when a product is promoted as water-resistant there are caveats to keep it working in perfect order. Always check the manufacturer’s fine print if you’re not sure and be careful if you’ve dropped your phone or smartwatch as this might have compromised the water-resistant seals, even if it’s not obvious by looking at it.


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