The IP in IP rating stands for ingress protection. This international system lets consumers and customers know how resistant an enclosed mechanical or electrical product is to various external forces and elements, typically dust and water.

Manufacturers of these products can apply for an IP rating, but it is important that they get the right one.

IP or Not IP? That is the question

The smartphone is, essentially, a sophisticated portable computer. As such, it is highly functional but also vulnerable to impact, dirt, water and other agents it might come into contact with.

Mobile phone manufacturers invest in achieving high IP Ratings for their phones because this certification is an endorsement of their products’ durability.

They then pass the high cost of the IP Rating onto the consumer, but in turn, the consumer knows they are getting a premium product.

However, not everyone is willing to play ball.

oneplus Phone

The phone manufacturer OnePlus does not IP rate its products. It has not done so for years, claiming this is a cost-saving exercise to keep its prices down.

What this is asking the customer to do is put price before quality assurance. OnePlus’s tactic is to use marketing instead of IP ratings, making a video that shows one of its phones going into a bucket of water.

The video boldly states that:

Water resistant ratings for phones cost you money

But at the same time, the warranty on a OnePlus phone will not cover water damage.

Therefore, it undermines its own argument.

A crucial aspect of IP ratings is that they are a simple, trusted way to demonstrate your product’s capabilities.

To get the rating you require, your product must undergo certain tests, which then prove its resistance to water and/or dust ingress.

Going for the wrong IP rating, or even choosing to ignore the system altogether, risks damaging consumer confidence and jeopardising your product’s success in the market.

How do IP ratings impact product design and manufacturing decisions?

IP ratings play a pivotal role in shaping product design and manufacturing decisions. A higher IP rating often requires additional engineering efforts to ensure tight seals against dust and water intrusion. This can lead to modifications in the design, materials used, and manufacturing processes. For example, products with IP67 or IP68 ratings may require specialised gaskets, seals, and coatings to meet the stringent criteria. Manufacturers must balance these design adjustments with aesthetics, functionality, and costs to deliver a product that meets both technical requirements and customer expectations.

How does a higher IP rating contribute to a product’s longevity and reliability?

For instance, an IP68-rated smartphone can confidently withstand accidental splashes, making it a reliable companion even in unpredictable weather conditions. Similarly, a camera with a high IP65 rating remains operational despite exposure to rain and dust, ensuring its longevity and reliable performance.

What considerations should manufacturers keep in mind when marketing products with specific IP ratings?

Furthermore, when marketing products with specific IP ratings, manufacturers need to ensure transparency and accuracy. Clearly communicate what each IP rating entails in terms of dust and water protection. Address common consumer concerns, such as whether water damage is covered by warranties. By building trust through informative marketing, manufacturers can instil confidence in their products’ durability.

How can a higher IP rating benefit a product’s marketability?

The marketability of a product significantly benefits from a higher IP rating. In a world where consumers seek devices that seamlessly integrate into various environments, an IP68-rated smartwatch becomes not just a piece of technology, but a resilient companion on outdoor adventures. By emphasising a product’s IP rating, manufacturers tap into a customer base that values reliability and durability, fostering customer loyalty.

Going for the wrong IP rating, or even choosing to ignore the system altogether, risks damaging consumer confidence and jeopardising your product’s success in the market.


What does being resistant really mean?

Manufacturers will often describe their products as being dust or water-resistant. But what if these definitions differ from product to product? How does the consumer know to what extent their phone, camera or other device really is water-resistant?

IP ratings are there to bring conformity to these levels of protection.

This system grades the level of protection provided by an enclosure or casing against the intrusion of liquids or solid objects.

This usually comes in the form of two numbers. The first number is the level of protection from solid objects, the second is from liquids.

For example, an IP rating of 66 would mean there is dust-tight resistance and protection from strong jets of water.

Each of the two number scales runs as follows:

  • For solid objects, 0–6, with 0 offering no protection and 6 the most protection
  • For liquids, 0-8, with 0 the lowest level of protection and 8 the highest.

Manufacturers, therefore, have a choice of IP ratings. What then matters is that they make the correct choice for their particular product.

Can you explain the process of testing a product to determine its IP rating in more detail?

The process of determining an IP rating involves rigorous testing carried out by independent and certified companies. Skilled technicians put the product through a battery of tests designed to mimic real-world conditions. For instance, to evaluate water resistance, products might be exposed to powerful water jets or even submerged for specified durations. Dust resistance testing involves introducing fine particles to assess the product’s vulnerability.

The results of these tests are then used to assign the appropriate IP rating. The first number signifies the level of solid object protection, while the second denotes liquid protection. This meticulous testing process ensures that the IP rating is not just a theoretical claim, but a verified standard that customers can rely upon.

IP rating test procedure

Are there any ongoing advancements in IP rating standards or technologies?

Indeed, the world of technology and engineering is ever-evolving, and IP rating standards are no exception. As industries embrace new materials, manufacturing techniques, and consumer demands, IP rating criteria adapt to stay relevant.

Recent advancements include more stringent tests for high-end smartphones and wearables that boast enhanced water resistance. Additionally, advancements in nanotechnology are being explored to create micro-barriers against water and dust intrusion. These developments reflect the industry’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of durability and protection, ultimately benefiting consumers by raising the bar for product reliability.

Why your IP rating matters

To get an IP rating for your product, you must arrange to test it. This should be done by an independent, certified company.

The independent company will then give the product a numerical IP rating, based on the tests they have put it through.

You can then apply this IP code to your product, enabling you to state, with confidence, the level of protection your product has.

This give the consumer information about what level of protection they can expect should they buy your product.

Choosing your IP rating comes down how resistant you want your product to be, whether it will meet this level of testing, and what your customers’ expectations are of your product.

IP ratings in the real world

IP ratings come in different combinations of numbers. Some will offer the highest level of solid resistance, but not the highest level of water resistance.

For example, some mobile phones are IP68 rated.

They are dust-tight and can withstand long periods of immersion. Other phones have an IP67 rating, where they can withstand temporary periods of immersion.

An example of other outdoor electronic enclosure designs would be security systems that need weatherproofing. Having an IP65 enclosure rating would mean that it meets the criteria for the product to be waterproof to a certain point.

A big part of this decision comes down to meeting customer expectations. Do people expect your product to be completely dust-resistant and water-resistant? Are these qualities intrinsic to how they will use it?

Another issue to consider when choosing your IP rating may be cost.

testing ip

What are some real-world examples of products that require specific IP ratings?

In the real world, numerous products demand specific IP ratings to thrive in their respective environments.

Consider smartphones: manufacturers invest in achieving high IP ratings for their phones to assure customers of their durability. These IP ratings guarantee that the device can withstand accidental splashes, dust, and even temporary immersion.

Security systems, like outdoor cameras, often require IP65 ratings or higher to ensure they remain functional and secure in various weather conditions. These examples highlight how IP ratings extend beyond a technical label and translate to tangible product reliability.

What does it cost to get an IP rating?

The first thing to note is that there is not a set price. The cost will consist of Research & Development work by skilled designers who understand IP ratings. When the design is prototyped to a high specification,  an accredited test house will charge for their services to test, based on which IP rating you wish to achieve.

Consider how much of this cost you can afford to pass on to the consumer.

You might, for instance, have a custom enclosure or electrical product which you can market at a premium based on its long-term durability.

Part of its marketability is therefore its IP rating, so you can factor the cost of testing and achieving this into its final price point.

We have already seen how OnePlus have opted not to have IP ratings, including the latest OnePlus 7 series, with claims that it would add $30 to the cost of each device.

But you must also look at what is going in in your market. What is the cost of you not having an IP rating if your competitors’ products have one?

Legitimise your product claims

Getting the right IP rating for your product enables you to legitimise the claims you make for the level of protection it has.

It offers a degree of assurance to your customers to help them decide whether your product will meet their needs.