Water resistant, water proof and splash resistant are adjectives which have erroneously been used interchangeably to give an impression that they are synonymous. It’s prudent to distinct these terms before committing yourself to purchasing a phone and pushing it to limits contrary to the manufacturers guarantee spectrum of the optimal working condition.

Let’s take a look at what it means to be water resistant vs waterproof.

Water Resistance Is Not Synonymous To Water Proof

This highly misplaced notion needs to be dispelled. A phone or an electronic gadget for that matter that is labeled water resistant is designed to withstand the effects of being immersed in water.

The performance of the phone, under no given circumstance, should take a knock due to the effect of water. On the other end of the spectrum, is the water resistance phone designed to take a knock of precipitation for a limited duration guided by international ratings.

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Figures are either calibrated in atmospheres or the more precise calibration of the IP ratings.

Understanding Water Resistance Ratings for phones

Times have changed and so have electronic devices application. Water resistant gadgets historically were designed for athletes in extreme sports. Deep sea divers and triathletes quickly come to mind.

However, with the advent of smartwatches and smartphones which you have become so attached to, that even a trip down the beach you still keep along with them, necessitated the need to engineer devices that could withstand the wet conditions.

Along comes water resistant labels and ratings which, unfortunately, consumers have failed to comprehend. Cell phones and other mobile gadgets are generally rated using IP (depending on the source of information IP stands for ingress protection or International Protection). On the other hand, devices such as wrist watches (smart watches) are rated using Atmosphere scale (ATM).

Unraveling the ATM Rating

A rating applied to determine the atmospheric pressure a gadget can withstand while submerged. A higher rating suggests that your device can withstand the effects of water pressure exerted on it while it’s submerged. Take for instance a rating of 1 ATM. Figure 1 denotes the water pressure generated by the depth of water.

At sea–level, the baseline pressure is 1 ATM. It, therefore, goes without saying a device rated 1ATM offers zero submersion protection. Keep it out of the water. Plain and simple.

Deciphering the IP Rating

The IP rating is a more reliable conventional rating of electronics water resistant rating. It’s an internationally acclaimed certification rating and gives a better insight of how your device would fear on wet conditions.

The ratings are denoted by two digits. The first digit denoting the level of impermeability to solid ingress such as dust whereas the second digit denoted fluid ingression. For solid ingression, 6 is the greatest point of protection that can be attained while for fluid ingression its 8.zero or letter X, denotes no protection in both scenarios.

Take Heed of the Manufacture Specifications

Before you embark on a diving mission with your smartphone, take a keen look at the manufacturer’s spec sheet. The safety and functionality lie therein. Cases of phones being marketed with a rating of IP68 have been reported to fail the water resistance test (go ahead and read that to get to the brands).

In a nutshell, getting a device that is 101% waterproof under uncontrolled conditions is a tall order. Otherwise, how would you explain devices that fail the test after being internationally credited with IP68 ratings?

The answer lies in the set physical conditions: temperature, exposure duration and water depth as indicated by the manufacturer. Attaining this condition outside a controlled setting is an uphill task. It’s, therefore, safe to treat your phone as water resistant, and not waterproof, with the added benefit of insurance against light precipitate and not a scuba diving invite.

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