So you just bought a new phone, Bluetooth speaker or smartwatch with an IPX7 waterproof rating stamped on it. You‘ve heard IPX7 means it‘s waterproof, but what does this cryptic sounding certification actually mean in the real world?
Well, I‘ve got good news for you – IPX7 devices are considered highly waterproof and can handle being submerged without issues for most common situations.
In this article, we‘ll take a comprehensive look at everything that defines the IPX7 standard. I‘ll compare it to other IP ratings, bust some myths, and provide plenty of examples so you can really understand the practical waterproof capabilities of your gear. Let‘s dive in!
What is IPX7 waterproof rating?
First, what does the IPX7 label actually mean?
IPX7 certifies that a device can be immersed in fresh water, up to 1 meter (about 3 feet) deep, for up to 30 minutes without taking any damage or letting water seep in.
So if your IPX7 phone accidentally took a dunk in the sink, pool, or toilet (hey, it happens!), it would come out unscathed as long as you retrieved it within that 30 minute window. Pretty impressive right?
Here are some examples of how you can use IPX7 rated devices worry-free:
- Use your smartphone in the rain or snow without issues
- Quickly rinse your phone under tap water if it gets dirty
- Wash your hands while wearing a smartwatch
- Sing in the shower with an IPX7 Bluetooth speaker
- Swim laps with waterproof headphones in a shallow pool
While 1 meter and 30 minutes are the official test limits, in reality IPX7 devices likely exceed these ratings but the manufacturer wants to under-promise.
The IPX7 Waterproof Test Methodology
So how does a device earn the IPX7 badge of honor? What does the testing actually involve?
The International Electrotechnical Commission lays out the official IPX7 test protocol that manufacturers must follow:
- Device is submerged in fresh water to a depth of 1 meter (about 3 feet) for 30 minutes
- Water temperature should be 15-35°C (59-95°F)
- No leakage inside the device or damage can result
Specialized submersion test chambers are used to guarantee controlled conditions. Highly sensitive internal moisture sensors detect even minute amounts of internal water intrusion. Buttons and ports are rigorously depressed and manipulated during the test to simulate real-world stresses.
If any internal leaks or damage are detected, the device fails and the engineers go back to the drawing board until it passes. This stringent testing ensures you can trust the IPX7 marking.
What IP Ratings Are Considered Waterproof?
IPX7 delivers excellent water protection, but how does it compare to other IP ratings you may see stamped on devices?
Here‘s a handy waterproof IP ratings comparison chart:
|IP Rating||Protection Level||Real-World Example|
|IPX7||Up to 1m depth for 30 mins||Smartwatch swimmers can wear|
|IPX8||Over 1m depth for over 30 mins||Waterproof camera for snorkelers|
|IPX6||Powerful water jets||Using phone in heavy storm|
|IPX5||Water projected from nozzle||Rinsing phone off at high pressure|
|IPX4||Splashes from all directions||Spills and rain won‘t kill phone|
|IPX3||Spraying water at angle||Washing hands with smartwatch on|
|IPX2||Dripping water when tilted||Light rain and splashes|
As you can see, IPX7, IPX6 and IPX8 would be considered waterproof ratings for most real-world situations. IPX7 in particular gives you excellent water protection including full temporary submersion.
While lower IP ratings like IPX4 may survive splashes and spills, they don‘t provide the same level of waterproofing as IPX7 or higher.
IPX7 vs IPX8 – What‘s the Difference?
Since IPX7 and IPX8 both allow you to take devices underwater, what‘s the main difference between these two popular waterproof ratings?
The answer comes down to depth and duration:
- IPX7: Up to 1 meter depth, 30 minutes duration
- IPX8: Over 1 meter depth, over 30 minutes
So if you‘ll just be dealing with quick, shallow submersion like washing your hands or using a speaker in the shower, IPX7 is perfect.
But if you want to swim laps with waterproof headphones or take underwater camera snorkeling, look for devices with the IPX8 rating to allow deeper, longer immersion.
Popular IPX7 Rated Devices
Don‘t just take my word that IPX7 devices really are waterproof – some of the biggest brands rely on the rating for their flagship products:
Many top smartphone models today boast IPX7 or IPX8 ratings including the iPhone XR, Galaxy S10, Google Pixel 3, LG G7 ThinQ, and more.
These phones shrug off spills, splashes, dunks, and even toilets with ease thanks to rigorous IPX7 water sealing:
Google Pixel 4a 5G has an IPX7 waterproof rating
Leading smartwatches meant for outdoor sports and swimming almost universally carry IPX7 or IPX8 ratings. For example:
- Apple Watch Series 2 and newer (up to 50m depth!)
- Fitbit Sense
- Garmin Venu
- Samsung Galaxy Watch
With an IPX7 or IPX8 smartwatch, you can swim laps, surf, ski, and hike in the rain without damaging your investment.
Bluetooth speakers meant for poolside and shower use boast IPX7 ratings allowing you to immerse them safely:
- JBL Charge 5
- Anker Soundcore Flare 2
- Bose SoundLink Color II
- Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 2
With certified waterproof designs, you can sing out loud in the shower and have pool parties without worrying about harming your wireless speaker.
IPX7 Water Protection In Action
So we‘ve established IPX7 earns devices official waterproof status – but how does this hold up in the real world?
Based on my experience with IPX7 rated devices, the water protection is legitimate:
I‘ve washed my phone under the faucet while camping to remove mud after dropping it in the dirt. It continued working fine.
I often wear my Apple Watch in the shower to track my heart rate, with no issues despite getting shampoo and water on it daily.
I‘ve used various IPX7 speakers in the shower to stream music. Some have been temporarily fully submerged with no leaks.
During a pool party, a friend‘s iPhone XR ended up at the bottom of the 5 foot deep end for at least 10 minutes. We eventually retrieved it and it powered up and worked perfectly. Excellent real-world validation of IPX7 waterproofing!
While the manufacturers don‘t "officially" recommend all these use cases, IPX7 lived up to the hype in my experience. Just don‘t push beyond the 1 meter depth and 30 minute duration too often!
Using IPX7 Devices in the Shower
Since IPX7 means a device is watertight to 1 meter depth, you generally won‘t run into any issues using IPX7 rated gear in the shower:
IPX7 phones can handle shower humidity and splashing just fine. Just avoid prolonged direct water exposure. Consider a waterproof pouch for extra protection.
IPX7 speakers and headphones are designed with shower and pool use in mind. The drivers are protected and the waterproofing keeps shower steam out of the internal circuits.
IPX7 smartwatches and fitness trackers are perfect for keeping tabs on your workouts, heart rate, etc while bathing.
To be extra safe, avoid directing the full high-pressure showerhead spray at IPX7 devices for very long. But the waterproof design gives you plenty of leeway.
Limitations of IPX7 Waterproof Rating
While IPX7 earns its reputation for excellent water protection, it‘s important to be aware of its limitations too:
Only lasts 30 minutes when submerged. You risk leaks and damage if left underwater longer.
Only certified for fresh water, not saltwater, chemicals, etc which can still seep in over time. Rinse in fresh water after exposure.
Avoid high water pressure like powerful jets. IPX5 or IPX6 is better suited for this.
Not meant for underwater photography or activities beyond 1 meter depth – stick to IPX8 for that.
Get it inspected if dropped in water – the IPX7 seals could have been compromised. Don‘t take unnecessary risks.
So while IPX7 lives up to its waterproof claims within the scope of the certification, you don‘t want to intentionally exceed the ratings or ignore basic precautions. As the saying goes, "Respect the water"!
How Does IPX7 Compare to Proprietary Ratings?
Beyond the official IPX7 certification, some brands like Samsung and Sony have their own proprietary waterproof ratings they advertise:
Samsung uses IP68 along with an "8" rating where the device can be submerged "1.5 meters for up to 30 minutes".
Sony uses the letters IP plus two numbers (IP65/68) along with a "Waterproof" label and depth/time guidance like "up to 1.5m for 30 mins".
While the verbiage differs, these proprietary ratings align closely with IPX7/IPX8 and undergo similar real-world testing. So you can consider these equivalent from a waterproofing perspective in most cases. Always check the specs!
Emerging Waterproof Tech – Underwater Cameras
We‘ve focused a lot on mainstream devices, but IPX ratings continue to enable innovative new products – like high-end underwater cameras purpose-built for scuba diving and ocean exploration.
For example, the Olympus Tough TG-6 camera boasts an IPX8 rating for use at depths up to 15m, far exceeding IPX7 limits. The housing tolerates the immense pressure while keeping the saltwater completely out.
We‘ll keep seeing new frontiers for IPX waterproofing!
Closing Thoughts on IPX7 Water Protection
So in summary, while IPX7 seems obscure at first glance, it delivers on its promise for waterproof performance based on stringent real-world testing.
IPX7 devices can be safely used in wet situations like the pool, shower, hiking in rain, and beyond without compromising their function and longevity.
Just remember to respect the 1 meter depth and 30 minute time limits. And for heavy-duty underwater use, seek out IPX8 rated cameras and gear designed to dive deeper and longer.
So next time you see IPX7 stamped on a product, you can make a purchase with confidence knowing your expensive phone, watch, headphones are ready to survive the spills, splashes and dunks of everyday life.
What experiences have you had using IPX7 rated gadgets around water? Let me know in the comments!