What Does an IP68 Rating Actually Mean?

Quite often, today's tech comes with a so-called IP rating. Among the most common is the IP68 rating, but what does this mean? To best understand, it's first necessary to take a closer look at the IP code system itself.
In this instance, IP stands for ingress protection. In essence, IP codes form a standard designed to demonstrate how well various products cope against the ingress of water and dust. Manufacturers give IP ratings to any number of products where a degree of dust resistance or waterproofing is important. That includes earbuds, smartphones, smartwatches, and certain camera equipment.
Crucially, with an IP rating assigned, manufacturers can provide a standardized insight into how well their products hold up in wet and dusty surroundings. That's opposed to simply saying that a product is sweatproof or dust-resistant — something that's generally too vague to be helpful.
Instead, and by publishing a rating such as IP68, manufacturers are stating precisely how well-protected their products are against the ingress of dust and water. Backed up by real-life testing, buyers can take precautions with non-waterproof devices and rest assured when the device has an IP68 rating.

How IP Codes Work

All IP ratings follow the same format, typically consisting of four digits. The first two will always be I and P, for ingress protection. The third digit reflects what's known as a product's solid particle protection ability. As far as things like smartphones and earbuds, this is how resistant to dust they are. The solid particle protection scale goes from zero to six. A score of zero means that a product offers no protection.
A score of six, meanwhile, demonstrates that a product allows for absolutely no ingress of dust or dirt. With that, it's considered completely dust-tight. To achieve the maximum rating, manufacturers perform a dust ingress test lasting up to eight hours. The device must pass with faultless results.
By comparison, the second-best score of five represents a test result equal to what's considered dust-protected. Where a product is deemed as such, the ingress of dust is not entirely prevented, but it's unable to enter in a sufficient quantity to cause issues.
The fourth and final all-important digit then concerns waterproofing. This time, scores can range from zero to nine. Here, the scale goes from little or no protection whatsoever to complete waterproofing and resistance to powerful high-temperature water jets.
Middling ratings include a score of four for protection against the splashing of water and a slightly better mark of five, which means that a product is safe from unsustained low-pressure jets of water.

Understanding an IP68 Rating

With an IP rating of 6 and 8 for resistance to dust and waterproofing, respectively, an IP68-rated product is therefore wholly dust-tight and almost fully waterproof, like JBL's Reflect Flow Pro earbuds. In fact, few products score higher for waterproofing. Only those needing to stand up to hot, high-pressure water jets require a score of nine. Slightly at odds with other scores, this unusually high maximum rating displays itself as 9K.
Although not likely to be resistant to hot, high-pressure jets of water, a product with an IP68 rating is tested against immersion in cold water, generally to a depth of between three and ten feet. Having achieved this rating, a product is suitable for continuous submersion at that depth for longer than the 30 minutes considered safe in terms of a product scoring a seven.

Other IP Codes and Ratings

Sometimes, a product's IP rating will feature 'X' in place of a number. This means that it passed a test for one aspect of waterproofing or dust-proofing, but not the other. The score replaces the missing number with X – for example, IPX8 or IP6X. Here, the former would be suitably resistant to water but not necessarily dust-tight, and the latter would be fully dust-tight but not confirmed waterproof.
In other instances, a product's IP rating may have letters and numbers detailing particular steps taken to protect against oil, high voltages, and more. Yet, for things like smartphones, the standard four-digit IP code is usually more than sufficient to convey the necessary information.

Protect Your Most Important Possessions With Upsie

Whatever a product's IP rating, it'll never be immune from manufacturer defects, mechanical faults, and other conceivable failures. At the same time, and while potentially waterproof and fully dust-tight, unexpected drops, cracks, and other mishaps can all have catastrophic consequences.
For these reasons and various others, an extended warranty is essential.
Upsie's smartphone subscription warranties cost just $9.99 per month. In addition, Upsie’s policies are straightforward, affordable, and comprehensive. Upsie protects customers' devices from much of what life may have to throw at them.
Upsie also offers non-subscription warranties for smartwatches, tablets, computer equipment, cameras, and headphones. Upsie offers the best protection for all devices.

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* This article is over 6 months old and may or may not be updated.