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What are water and dust ratings?

From an accidental dunking in a toilet bowl to dropping your phone in the sand, mobile phone users have always been terrified of damaging their expensive gadgetry. However, when buying a new mobile phone nowadays your mind can be put at rest – well almost. It’s now quite rare to come across a decent phone without water and dust protection. Measured by something called an IP-rating, read our quick guide to water and dust ratings and find out more.

Even with the highest IP-rating your mobile phone is still vulnerable to damage, breakdown, theft and loss. Let the dedicated team of insurance specialists at Gadget Cover help you find the right mobile phone insurance for your device.

All about IP ratings

The IP ratings you’ll see displayed in the tech specs of new mobile phones are usually made up of four characters. It’s possible for there to be five characters, but only if Apple, Samsung or Huawei make a device that can withstand high pressure jets of hot steam!

Looking at the first two characters, I and P, these stand for Ingress Protection. In other words, the rating measures how good it is for stopping stuff getting inside. This can range from large items such as a hand or finger to small items such as particles of dust or droplets of water.

Man dusting phone

After the IP there follows a third digit. This is the number that tells you how good it is at protecting against small solids such as dust or sand. This ranges from 0 for no protection whatsoever, through tools, small screws, wires, and a little dust to 6 for complete protection.

The last digit in the four-character code is the liquid or water resistance rating. Phones will be measured from 0 for no protection though falling water, splashes, water jets and full immersion, to a max rating of 8. As mentioned previously there is a 9K rating for withstanding powerful high temperature jets of steam – but there’s not much call for that among mobile phone buyers!

So, if you see IP68 on a mobile phone’s tech sheet, you know it offers the best IP rating available in terms of dust and water resistance. At least, when it comes to the tests used for IP ratings.

However, never forget these ratings are arrived at in controlled laboratory conditions. They’re very different from what you would encounter in the real world. Testing won't take into account the effect of being kept in a soaking wet backpack during a 10-mile hike. Or being submerged in saltwater or highly chlorinated pool water. All of these things can have a big impact on your phone’s water or dust resistance.

So, even if your phone has a great IP rating, it doesn't mean you should test it out, particularly when it comes to water.

What do IP ratings mean?

Here's a breakdown of the ratings and the tests manufacturers use on your beloved mobile phones. What’s the IP rating of your model?

First digit: Protection against, dust, dirt, sand and other solids

Level 0 - No protection.

Level 1 - Protection against objects greater than 50mm such as large parts of the body.

Level 2 - Protection against objects greater than 12.5mm. Fingers and objects of a similar size can’t be inserted.

Level 3 - Protection against objects greater than 2.5mm. Tools and thick wires can’t be inserted.

Level 4 - Protection against objects greater than 1mm. Most wires and screws can’t be inserted. Protects against small insects.

Level 5 - Protection against dust and sand. Some limited protection from dust and sand as long as the phone isn’t exposed to a large quantity.

Level 6 - Complete protection against dust. To test this a manufacturer will apply a vacuum to try to force dust into the phone.

Second digit: Protection against water and other liquids

Level 0 - No protection.

Level 1 - Protection against dripping water. To test this, the phone is mounted in an upright position while water is dripped onto it. The test takes 10 minutes and recreates in the lab the equivalent of 1mm of rain per minute.

Level 2 - Protects against dripping water when tilted at 15 degrees. The phone is mounted in four different positions for 2.5 minutes each. The phone undergoes the equivalent of 3mm of rainfall per minute.

Level 3 - Protects against spraying water at an angle of up to 60 degrees from the vertical. The phone is put in an oscillating tube for 10 minutes and hit with water from a spray nozzle with up to 10 litres of water per minute.

Level 4 - Protects against water splashed from any direction. The test takes 10 minutes using a spray nozzle.

Level 5 - Protects against jets of water. Water is fired at the phone from a 6.3mm nozzle. The test lasts for 15 minutes with a jet using 12.5 litres of water per minute from a distance of three metres.

Level 6 - Protects against powerful jets of water. Water is fired at the phone from a 12.5mm nozzle. It’s a three-minute test using 100 litres of water per minute from a distance of three metres.

Level 7 - Protects against full immersion. The phone is submerged in water less than 1 metre deep for 30 minutes.

Level 8 - Protects against full immersion. The phone is submerged in water of 1 metre depth or more. The precise depth and duration of the test will depend on the manufacturer.

Remember if you have mobile phone insurance from Gadget Cover then your phone is also covered against liquid damage. So, if your gadget has been damaged due to spills, splashes or even full immersion, we’ll repair it or replace it.

Water Damage

How to prevent water or dust damage

Despite having decent levels of water or dust resistance, if you expose your phone often enough to these risks, then you’re asking for trouble! Indeed, research shows a shocking 11% of Europe’s phones are damaged by water every year.

But while water damage is a common problem for mobile phone owners, there are plenty of ways to protect yourself. Here are just a few of the best.

Use your common sense

We don’t want to be a party pooper but sometimes the best way to avoid water or dust damage is to keep your phone well away from such situations. For example, leave your phone behind when popping to the toilet. Or keep your phone locked in your bag when at the beach.

If you use your phone as a music player and simply must have some tunes then you’ve got other options. Consider a wireless waterproof speaker to pair up with your phone. Gadget insurance from Gadget Cover can also protect such items.

Look for IP68 certification

If you’re looking for a new mobile phone then check what the IP rating is. From full submersion to a drenching from the rain, shelling out on an IP68-rated phone could be money well spent in the long run. Check out our ultimate guide to buying a mobile phone for other important matters to consider. It’s got in-depth guidance on the best features to choose, top smartphone brands, price plans, network choices, and so much more.

Invest in a decent case, cover or pouch

We always advise buying a great case to protect your mobile phone whatever the situation and the IP rating of the phone. A well-fitting case not only protects your phone from drops, bumps, and scrapes, but it can also protect it from dust and water. There are also covers, cases and pouches specifically designed to protect against water.

Even the best case, cover or pouch isn’t expensive when compared to the cost of a new phone. And they’re perfect for carrying your phone on the beach or near the pool.

Buy dust or moisture plugs

We all live active lifestyles and our mobile phones are an integral part of that. But however careful you are, dust, dirt, sweat, liquid splashes, grime, sand, lint, and other debris are easily going to find their way into your phone’s most vulnerable ports.

So, even when you leave your phone behind, or store it away, your ports are still at risk. From the headphone jack and the charger connector to Lightning or Micro USB ports they can all attract dust and grime and play havoc with your phone.

You can now buy small custom-made protector plugs to fit all types of mobile phones. Whether dust, water or sand, these plugs will keep it out!

My phone got wet! What should I do?

Never fear, as we said, modern mobile phones are built to withstand some pretty rough treatment. However, every phone is different, just as every spill is different. Follow these easy steps to ensure your phone has the best chance of recovery after a soaking:

  1. Turn off the phone immediately and don’t press any buttons. Power off quickly before any major damage is caused to the sensitive internal circuitry.
  2. If you’ve dropped it in a liquid other than water (such as beer or fruit juice) and it’s water resistant, Apple suggests that you rinse it off by submerging it in still water. Never put your phone under a running tap, as the pressure of the water could cause further damage. If you feel uncomfortable with doing that then a wipe with a damp cloth should be sufficient.
  3. Dry the phone using paper towels or a soft cloth (for example, a lens cloth). Be careful that it’s gentle and lint-free. Don’t insert anything into the ports.
  4. Gently shake the phone to remove water from any ports. But not too much as this could further spread the liquid inside.
  5. If possible, remove the SIM-card, micro-SD card and battery. Some top-of-the-range phones won’t allow battery removal. When having a sim card, why not consider the pros and cons of a sim-only contract?
  6. If you can open the phone then use compressed air to blow any water out. Never use a hot hair dryer to do this as the heat can destroy the rubber seals and damage the screen.
  7. Put the phone in front of a fan blowing cool air to dry it out further.
  8. Place your phone in an airtight container full of silica gel packets. These can help absorb any excess moisture.
  9. Don’t charge the phone until you are certain it’s completely dry. If you charge a phone with liquid still inside it, or in the ports, you can cause further damage.
  10. Wait and see. Apple suggests waiting at least five hours before charging it with a Lightning cable or connecting a Lightning accessory.

If your phone is still not responding after all this, don’t try opening the phone yourself. You’re better off taking it to a professional and giving your mobile phone insurance provider a call.

Also, it’s not advised to put your phone in a container of rice. The belief is that rice helps in drying out your phone. The danger is that you’ll get rice stuck in a hard-to-reach place. Ouch!

If your phone has come into contact with other liquids such as sunscreen, perfume, hair dye or solvents, follow the advice to clean your phone here.

Protect your precious purchase with Gadget Cover

So, there you have it! Everything you could ever want to know about water and dust ratings. Hopefully this will have helped protect your phone. However, sometimes it won’t be enough and that’s where insurance cover comes in handy.

The helpful team at Gadget Cover are always searching for the very best mobile phone insurance policies suitable for your device, requirements and budget.

Our policies include protection against accidental damage, liquid damage, theft, breakdown and unauthorised usage as standard. And for an extra premium, your mobile phone will be covered against loss, too.

Additional benefits include family cover to extend protection to your immediate family and Worldwide cover to include use of your phone anywhere in the world. So, whatever the situation, you’re always well covered!

Get a quick quote for mobile phone insurance from Gadget Cover today.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.

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