Understanding IPX Ratings

How often have we spoken about devices being ‘water-resistant’ or ‘waterproof’ and ‘dust-resistant’ or ‘dustproof’? Quite a few times. Yet, so many doubts arise when we are to actually use our devices. Is it okay if I carry it while it’s raining? Can I use it for my workouts? Can I go for a swim wearing it? Can i shower with it? Yes, as weird as that sounds, people do that. (and FYI, we aren’t judging you). The above quoted terms provide no specific clarification to answer these miscellaneous questions.

Well, Voila! There always is a solution for every problem we have. We just need to look for it. Before this turns into a philosophy blog, let us come back to the point.

Ever come across the term ‘IPX’ while looking for a pair of headphones and wondered what it meant? It sounds really fancy and I bet you scrolled on without taking the effort to question it. Well, now that you are here already, let us help you find out what it stands for.

The IPX Code or Ingress Protection Code (also known as International Protection Marking), is an internationally accepted standardized scale published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). It classifies and rates the degree of protection provided by the device against water, dust and physical intrusion. This enables you to understand the resistance power of a device more specifically as opposed to the vague term ‘water-resistant’. The first digit after ‘IP’ indicates the level of protection from solid particles while the second digit indicates the level of protection against water ingress. Generally, higher the rating, better the protection. Shocking, right?

Given below is a tabulated form of the classification of IPX Ratings

Water IPX Standards

Dust IPX Standards

For a product that shows no mention of an IPX rating, it simply means that the product was not tested for it. It’s also important to note that, say, ‘IPX3’ is not the same as ‘IP03’. In the former case, the product was not tested for particulate resistance. In the latter case, 0 indicates that the product provides no protection against contact and ingress of objects.

Typically for sports gear, Devices rated between IPX1 to IPX3 can work well with your light workouts. Any devices rated above IPX3 are fairly resistant to some amount of water and are best suited for heavier workouts.

However, it is important to note that a device which is compliant with IPX7, covering immersion in water, need not be compliant with IPX5 or IPX6, covering exposure to water jets. Incase it is compliant with both the specifications, both ratings are mentioned for the product.