When it comes to our favorite consumer tech products, expectations are pretty high. Your smartphone is also a great camera. Your watch receives your emails. Your Earphones can be your voice assistant. Your phone case is capable of withstanding a nuclear blast.
On the one hand, our standards have never been so high. On the other, our multifunctional devices are more embedded in our lives than ever.
This close relationship with our gadgets means that we want assurance. We want to know that no matter the situation, they’re going to be ok. We want them to have protection built-in.
Which brings us to something you’ve probably stumbled across before: a product’s IP rating. IP stands for Ingress Protection. The letters and the numbers that follow tell you everything you need to know about how well protected a device is from the environment.
The first digit or letter in the IP rating is all about the device’s protection against solid particles like dust and sand. No dust protection means that the first symbol after ‘IP’ will be 0. If the device wasn’t tested for dust ingress, manufacturers will use the letter X.
Level 5 and level 6 are the best for any tech that you want to work after coming into contact with dust or sand. Any rating above 5 means that even if dust enters the device, the quantity will not be enough to cause an issue.
The second symbol in the IP rating relates to protection from water. There are 9 levels of protection for that. Read on to learn all about IP ratings and discover how water and dust-resistant your earphones are before you buy!
IPX1 offers minimal protection against wet conditions. A product with this rating can survive for 10 minutes with water dropping onto it vertically. The amount of water that falls in this time is equal to 1mm per minute of rainfall. If you see a product with IPX1 and you’re looking for something to withstand the wet and wild, look again.
IPX2 can take a bit more punishment than IPX1, but again, it is far from ideal if you’re looking for TWS earbuds that last more than 10 minutes when the heavens open. Products with this rating can take the equivalent of 3mm of rainfall a minute.
Finally, we’re starting to get somewhere. We take a dramatic step up in the world of waterproofing with IPX3. At this level, a device can survive some more exposure from mother nature. At least it can if mother nature comes equipped with a nozzle that sprays your device with 50 liters of water in five minutes. Even though IPX3 offers more protection to your devices, it’s still not recommended if you’re in the market for a more rugged gadget.
IPX4 is what you want your TWS earbuds to have as a bare minimum. This will protect them from any sort of splash risk you may encounter. This kind of rating is ideal for portable Bluetooth speakers and devices you plan on using at home, but not necessarily outside.
At IPX5 you can expect your device to hold up against water jets blasted at it from any angle. This can be very useful if you want to be a human test subject for a car wash, or if you’re listening to some Mozart beneath a waterfall. Practically speaking, IPX5-rated devices will continue to work after significant exposure to water, whether that happens by accident or on purpose.
A popular brand of TWS headphones with an IPX5 rating is our very own HiTune True Wireless Earbuds. They have a verified IPX5 rating that’s water and sweat resistant – perfect for working up a sweat in the gym or getting caught in the rain on the running track.
IPX6-rated products can do what IPX5 can do, but just much better. Devices with this rating can withstand stronger jets of water at a higher volume. Both IPX6 and IPX5 are considered water resistant but not fully waterproof.
A great example of a tech product in this category is Google’s Pixel 5 smartphone: Its IP68 rating means it can withstand dust, dirt and sand, as well as being resistant to submersion in water of 1.5m depth for up to half an hour.
We’ve made it towards the end of our list, so this is where you’ll find the most rugged audio tech. Products with this rating can survive full submersion in one meter of water for 30 minutes without being damaged. In other words, they’re perfect if you’re looking for some TWS earphones to join you for a swim – whether you’re training in the pool or lounging precariously on a lilo.
This rating is also ideal if you want to listen to music in the shower. The IPX-certified BassPal Waterproof Shower Speaker is a great option for starting your day with some tunes.
IPX8 can hold its ground in water up to three meters deep. There is no predefined time that products with an IPX8 rating can survive underwater, but it’s usually longer than the 30 minutes that IPX7 provides. Check the information given by the manufacturer, which will include the difference between the device’s protection from saltwater and regular water.
A recent IPX8-rated product making waves is the iPhone 12 Pro. It has an IP68 rating, which makes it great for underwater videos or selfies in a storm! Most flagship phone models will come with this level of waterproofness, so you can take your pick from the best Android phones as well if you’re not an Apple fan.
IPX9K-rated products are able to withstand high-powered torrents of water at a very high temperature, blasted at them from a close range. We don’t see this kind of rating on audio equipment or other consumer technology products, because these aren’t the kind of environments that humans tend to go into! But when it comes along, we’ll let you know! Interested in an example of something that would stand up to the IPX9 rating test? Look no further than your car, which has been carefully designed to survive an industrial car wash.
Now that you’re an IP pro, you’re in the perfect position to identify the different levels of waterproofing.
When choosing a device, the first thing you need to do is think about how you’re going to use it. Need some TWS earphones for around the house? The IP rating probably isn’t that important. Planning on working up a sweat or jumping in the pool with your favorite podcast on? You’re going to want something with a higher IP rating. IPX5 at the very least, just like the HiTune True Wireless Earbuds.
So what are you going to do with your new IP-rating knowledge? Let us know in the comments below!