The Swim Test for Smartphones

When a manufacturer of smartphones indicates their phone is water proof…how do they verify that claim?

When talking about their products water worthiness companies are talking about IP or ingress protection. The standardized IP test is all about how much water and dust a device can keep out. Phone makers typically list a products results as a IP rating.

In recent Galaxy devices , Samsung talks about an international standard rating of IP68, and says the Galaxy S7 and later models are deemed fit to withstand dust, dirt , and sand, and are resistant to submersion up to maximum depths of 1.5metres for 30 mins. This should be enough to protect it from the dreaded “toilet drop”.

As for those numbers..the first digit refers to the level of protection from solid substances and is measures from 0 to 6. 0 is no protection. 6 is no dust enters for 2-8 hours.  The second number refers to water and is rated from 0 to 9. 8 designates protection against water immersion under pressure for long periods. 9 means the object can with stand high pressure water jets.

Apple’s support guide regards the dust and water resistance of the iPhone 7 and later as IP67. Splash and general water resistance can be affected by normal wear and tear.

Waterproof is a term used in some marketing pieces, but the term water resistance is more accurate. If you need to use your phone around liquid environments your best bet is to get a proper water tight case.

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