The Galaxy S4 Active has an IP67 rating – but what does that mean?

by: Ankit BanerjeeJune 5, 2013

galaxy s4 vs xperia z z water resistance aa

The Samsung Galaxy S4 Active was officially unveiled earlier today, becoming the first high-end “rugged” smartphone from the company. We’ve been hearing a lot about the device’s IP67 rating, which means that it is completely dust-proof and will function normally even after being dipped in water for up to 30 minutes, up to a depth of 1m.

But what is the IP rating system? What do the numbers mean? What are the ratings for some other dust and waterproof smartphones like the Sony Xperia Z? These are some of the questions we’ll be taking a look at today.

What is the IP rating system?

Samsung Galaxy S4 Active Press (8) 1600

Not to be confused by the more commonly known Internet Protocol address,  IP in this case stands for Ingress Protection, or International Protection, which is a rating system that defines how well an enclosure protects its internal electric equipment, such as the internal hardware of a smartphone, against environmental factors such as dust and rain. The IP rating system was developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission, and is defined in the IEC 60529 standard. The rating consists of numerical values, with each digit defining a different aspect and level of protection afforded by the enclosure. When there is no protection with regards to one of the criteria, the digit is replaced with an X.

The first digit

The first digit refers to protection against solid objects, ranging from 1 (protection against accidental touches by hand) to 6 (complete protection against dust). Solid objects can refer to anything, including fingers, tools, wires, small wires, and dust. Check out the table below for the detailed explanation of each number.

0No special protection
1Protection against solid objects greater than 50mm in diameter, such as a hand
2Protection against solid objects greater than 12.5mm in diameter, such as fingers
3Protection against solid objects greater than 2.5mm in diameter, such as screwdrivers and other tools
4Protection against solid objects greater than 1mm in diameter, such as wires
5Limited protection against dust, that is, no harmful deposit
6Complete protection of dust

The second digit

The second digit refers to protection against water intrusion, and ranges from 1 (protection against condensation) to 8 (immersion below 1m and under pressure). Once again, check out the table below for each rating number and the level of protection provided.

0No protection
1Protection against vertically falling drops and condensation
2Protection against direct sprays of water, up to 15 degrees from vertical
3Protection against direct sprays of water, up to 60 degrees from vertical
4Protection against direct sprays of water from all directions. Limited ingress permitted
5Protection against low-pressure jets of water from all directions. Limited ingress permitted
6Protection against strong jets of water from all directions. Limited ingress permitted
7Protection against temporary immersion between 15cm and 1m for 30 minutes
8Protection against long periods of immersion over 1m and under pressure

Putting it together – the IP rating of some rugged smartphones

Kyocera Torque Review

Kyocera Torque

As we all know, the IP rating of the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is IP67, which means that the device features complete protection against dust, and protection against water immersion up to 1m and for up to 30 minutes. While the Galaxy S4 Active is the first high-end smartphone to boast these features, two other devices from the company, the Galaxy XCover and the Galaxy XCover 2, both are IP67 certified as well.

Another rugged smartphone with an IP67 is the Kyocera Torque. On the other hand, the Kyocera Hydro Edge and Hydro XTRM, which were shown off at CTIA 2013, feature an IP57 rating. Another rugged smartphone that was presented at the event was the CAT B15, which, as expected, features an IP67 rating.

Of course, before the Galaxy S4 Active, there were a couple of other high-end devices that touted dustproof and waterproof features, namely the Sony Xperia Z and the Sony Xperia Tablet Z.  Both devices feature a rating of IP55/IP57. The double rating as far as protection against water is concerned is because of the compliance with both factors, that is, protection against low pressure jets of water from all directions (rain), as well as immersion in up to 1m of water for up to 30 minutes.

Wrap up

If you’re in the market for a smartphone or tablet, or any other electrical equipment for that matter, and are worried about protection against dust and water, you know now what to look for. As far as the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active is concerned, it’s definitely fit for the outdoors. Don’t forget to check out some of the differences between the Galaxy S4 and its rugged counterpart to find out which is best suited to your needs.

  • Abdul

    The Xperia ZR has the highest protection again water, with a reading of IP58.

    • Micro Shaquer

      Let Sony improve its viewing angle and image quality of the camera then I’ll buy xperia lines. Have been using SGS3~8mp and compared to SXS~12mp from a friend and it turned out SXS photo is very bad in quality both low light and normal light condition. Sony has to invest in software optimization in its top notch camera hardware.

      Poor viewing angle and dull color of SXZ is a trade-off.

      • Abdul

        They also need to tighten their software engineers because I find their launchers a bit laggy as compared to the specs powering their top phones.

  • fyrfyter

    I think IP ratings will give way to the nano coatings with time. Its expensive to engineer things to fall within specific IP ratings, considering most people who use Cell Phones don’t understand it, or won’t use it that way. The nano coatings seem much more reasonable, and easier for the average consumer to understand.

    • Victor V.

      nano-coating?please explain. I would look it up, but I think I would get a ton of disparate information.

  • Anonymousfella

    A well-written and rather informative article. Good job! :)

  • Micro Shaquer

    I wish all smartphone nowadays must have a feature Water and Dust Proof along with the powerful chip sets.

    Come on Samsung, release it in Saudi Arabia immediately as I’m interested of getting one aside from its downgrade in Camera resolution and Display.

    I’ve read an article from other tech sites that it will have 8mp same module as the SGS3 with a very decent and quality photo so that’s okay. Whilst SGS4 Active won’t have a vibrant color from Amoled but will have brighter display with TFT LCD.

  • James Booker

    Great article, after reading this I bought myself a Samsung IP67 rated handset from :)

  • cyanongenmod

    bad English , title ip67 it’s not a rating it’s a certification.. you should know what the words mean before writing them to talk about something..

  • Vinayak Bansal

    Thanks for the info ,I just wanted to ask which phone should i buy an phone with IP58(Xperia Z2) or IP67(Galaxy S5).

    • Marshall

      Are you likely to drop it in a swimming pool? Or accidentally leave it in your swimmers when diving? Or fly Malaysia Airlines? If yes to any, get the former…

  • Marshall

    Your wording incorrectly implies that an x means no protection. An x means no protection rating, ie. not tested, no data, or irrelevant. Big difference. Zero means no protection, as stated in your tables.