Does Waterproof Really Mean Waterproof?
Whenever you’re in a tech store looking for new earbuds or speakers, you might often see the word “Waterproof”.
Related Product: My Bone Conduction Headphones from Tohunzo (click to view on Amazon) are waterproof enough to swim with
You might think that it really means that the product is waterproof but if you look more closely, you’ll most likely find an IPX score on the back.
So what does IPX really mean? And how do we measure it?
Today we are going to look at a way of classifying water-resistant tech, and what to consider before making a purchase.
What is IPX?
An IPX score is a rating to determine how water- or dust-resistant a product is. It generally goes from IPX0 from lowest and up to IPX8 at highest.
IP in this area stands for Ingress Protection, or sometimes, International Protection. The X is most often used when it comes to water-resistance but also sometimes with dust-resistance. This does not only apply to tech products but to any type of gear that can be affected.
Below will include the general description of the different rankings as well as some advice for purchasing tech products using these rankings.
IPX Score Scale – Technical Ranking
IPX0 – Offers no protection at all against the smallest drop of water.
IPX1 – Offers protection from some water drops to an extent of at least 10 minutes.
IPX2 – This adds on to IPX1, however, this ranking requires that the product can survive being rotated while having water dripped on for at least 10 minutes.
IPX3 – Offers protection from water being sprayed on the product from for at least 5 minutes.
IPX4 – Offers protection from splashes of water in any direction for at least 5 minutes.
IPX5 – Offers protection from a 6.33mm spray of water in any direction for at least 3 minutes.
IPX6 – Offers protection from a 12.5mm spray of water in any direction for at least 3 minutes.
IPX7 – Offers protection from being completely submerged under at least 1 meter for at least 30 minutes. (This is where we’re getting into the more “real” waterproof subjects).
IPX8 – Offers different protection given by the manufacturer. This means that it’s better than the above but not to what degree. (This might be mentioned if it has been properly studied and tested by the manufacturer).
IPX0 – Offers no protection at all from outside objects entering the product on any level or any size.
IPX1 – Offers protection from objects 55mm or larger from entering the product.
IPX2 – Offers protection from objects 12.5mm or larger from entering the product.
IPX3 – Offers protection from objects 2.5mm or larger from entering the product.
IPX4 – Offers protection from 1mm or larger from entering the product.
IPX5 – Offers protection from dust that would be able to interfere with the general operation of the product.
IPX6 – This means that the product is completely dust-resistant.
Why is the term “waterproof” misused?
Many times, like in phone cases and even tech products, the advertisement may mention it being waterproof.
However, on the backside, it might mention that it technically only have an IPX6 score.
So why is that? Isn’t that misleading?
Yes, it is misleading. It is however how many companies address their products in order to increase the interest from the buyer. By including the IPX score within the product information, they manage to escape being called a fraud.
There will be the guidelines of mentioning, for how long a product can be in the water, and, how deep under water.
The correct way would be to only use the word water-resistant instead unless truly 100% waterproof.
What is a good IPX score?
It will depend on your purpose and usage of the product. If you’re looking for a pair of earbuds that won’t break because a little bit of sweat, you would probably be fine with an IPX1 or IPX2 rating in most cases.
However, if you’re looking for a speaker to use near the pool, your best bet would be to look for a speaker that has the IPX7 rating or better.
If you’re interested in wireless speakers with different IPX scores, I have made an article about the best wireless waterproof (or water resistant to be technically correct) speakers on the market.