How tough is your smartphone?

IP-rated water and dust resistance and Gorilla Glass

IP-rated water and dust resistance and Gorilla Glass: Explained

Most flagship phones these days boast some level of resistance, with IP ratings on everything from the Apple iPhone XS to the Huawei Mate 20 Pro. But what do manufacturers mean when they use terms like “waterproof” and “water-resistant?” What constitutes a “rugged” device? And just how many times can you drop your phone in the pool or on the sidewalk before you can expect it to bite the dust?

Testing a smartphone’s limits

IP Ratings

An Ingress Protection (IP) rating tells users exactly how waterproof a product is. The standard was drawn up by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) – a global organisation responsible for setting international standards for everything from your toaster to your iPad.

Every IP rating includes two digits, like IP67 or IP68 – which are two of the most common ratings currently found on portable devices. The first number indicates the level of protection against solids while the second number indicates the level of protection against liquids.

Protection against Solids

The first of the two digits (the 6 in IP67) refers to protection against solids, including dust. Products are rated using a 0-6 scale, with higher numbers being the most well protected. Here’s what each level means:

(0) – No protection.

(1) – indicates Protection against objects up to 50mm.

(2) -indicates Protection against objects up to 12.5mm, along with fingers or similar objects.

(3) – indicates Protection against objects up to 2.5mm, such as thick wires or tools.

(4) – indicates Protection against objects up to 1mm, including most wires and screws.

(5) – means it’s Not entirely protected from dust, but enough to significantly affect performance significant damage.

(6) – means it’s Totally protected against dust.

Often a rating is given as X, instead of a number. This doesn’t mean the product skips protection, it instead means it hasn’t been tested for a level in that area.

Protection against Liquids

The latter digit in the IP rating refers to the level of protection against liquids – and here’s what they mean:

(0) – denotes No protection.

(1) – denotes Minimal protection against vertical drops of water, such as very light rain.

(2) – denotes Protected by vertical drops of water when the device is tilted at 15°.

(3) – denotes Protection against sprays of water when the device is tilted at 60°.

(4) – denotes Protection from sprays and splashes of water from any direction.

(5) – denotes Protection against water sprayed directly from a low-pressure nozzle from any direction.

(6) – denotes Protection from high-powered water jets with a 12.5mm nozzle, from any direction, such as a shower.

(7) – denotes Protected for up to 1m of immersion for up to 30 minutes, including splashing and dunking.

(8) – denotes Protection against submersion beyond 1m.

Note that a level rating doesn’t mean that it has been tested for preceding levels. What that means is that your IP67 phone may survive a dunk in your bathtub but taking it along to your private concert in the shower might not be the best idea.

En-Route Unbreakable Glass

Gorilla Glass

Headquartered in Corning, New York and founded in 1851, Corning Incorporated is the world’s leading innovators in materials science. The company operates in diverse market segments like Optics, Display Technology, Specialty Materials and Environmental Technologies with prowess in specialty glass, ceramics, and optical physics.

The product that has brought them global recognition in technology space has been Gorilla Glass, the damage-resistant cover glass used in millions of mobile devices which was first created by accident by Scientist Don Stookey.

Gorilla Glass

The primary upside of Corning Gorilla Glass is damage resistance. This material is chemically strengthened through an ion-exchange process that creates a deep compression layer on the surface of the glass substrate. It’s tough enough to handle the surface pressures intrinsic to these devices, and a few millimeters thick to enable more touch-sensitive responses.

Every few years, Corning improves upon their glass formula, with their newest Gorilla Glass 6 being able to handle repeated drops better than its predecessor, and deal with scratching and high-up drops just as well.

Corning has also developed an inkjet process, called Vibrant Gorilla Glass that allows manufacturers to etch any color or design onto the glass itself, creating a custom look without necessitating a case. Corning claims to be currently venturing into adding textures and gradients as well.

All these technologies, however advanced, aren’t perfectly foolproof. Even though phones are getting stronger, smartphone cases are recommended for individuals who are prone to dropping their handsets often. The wide variety of customizations are an added bonus that will make your device truly unique.