People have been working with water-resistant electrical and mechanical components for a long time. So, there was a certification needed to check if the device could be exposed to water or dust. At that time, there was some form of certification to guarantee. However, the system was not standard for all devices.
History Of IP Ratings
The International Electromechanical Commission (IEC) standardized the water-resistance rating in 1976. It was done by introducing the Ingress Protection rating, which is known as IP rating. As a result, you can judge how good the device is against dust or water.
34 years later, the first water-resistant smartphone was released. Motorola launched Moto Defy with IP67 for water and dust protection. However, it was not a mainstream feature in 2010. All major flagship devices took their time for this feature to launch on their smartphones.
Sony released its first flagship with a water-resistance rating in 2013. Sony Xperia Z had IP55 and IP57 ratings. After that, Samsung released Galaxy S5 with an IP67 rating in 2014. Afterward, Apple released iPhone 7 with an IP67 rating.
All flagships and mid-range devices feature some form of water resistance now. As a result, it was a benefit for the consumer. Samsung features an IP68 rating in most smartphones.
You can get the IP rating chart from the official website. The first number shows how tightly sealed the device is against solid objects, such as dust. The number goes from 0 to 6. Zero means no protection against dust, and six means dust-tight.
The second number tells about how resistant the device is against liquids. The number goes from 0 to 9. Zero means no protection, and nine means the device might withstand high-pressure water jets.
The IP ratings of seven tell us about depths and time for it. However, the IP rating of 8 and more will be specified by the manufacturer. Since there are no specific depth measurements.
There are also several IP ratings which include symbol x. The symbol x is different from the rest, and it means that the device has not been tested for resistance.
For example, the IPX7 rating means that it is water-resistant for depths up to 1.5 meters for half an hour, but the dust resistance is unknown.
Waterproof Vs. Water Resistance
Certain companies are branding water-resistant smartphones as being waterproof. It is wrong because no smartphone might be waterproof. After all, that means water cannot penetrate or harm the device. Manufacturers can certify their devices themselves. As a result, there might be bugs in the testing procedure.
However, IP ratings are not inclusive. In other words, the IP56 is not less good or better than the IP58 rating. In some cases, a single device can be certified for both, such as Xperia Z, which is certified for IP57 and IP55.
Factors Affecting Waterproof & Water Resistance
The smartphone will degrade the water or dust resistance over time. There are glue and rubber seals inside the smartphone, and it degrades with time because of heat, salt, and chlorine in the environment.
Dropping the smartphone is also one of the great reasons to lose water or dust resistance. The impact from the fall could damage the glue or chip of a part which might expose internal parts of the device.
Several companies also offer rugged phones, and these phones are better at water resistance and impact protection. Some of these devices have a rubber flap to seal the charging port or headphone jack. It makes the device more secure.
There are also several pros and cons for this kind of device. Sometimes these smartphones have a plastic display instead of glass. Plastic is cheap but also more durable to impact. However, it is not great when it comes to scratches or heat.
Most of the companies do not cover water damage even if the device is water-resistant. All devices have moisture stickers, which turn from white to bright colors. It indicates that the water was inside the device.