Seal of approval
Exactly how dunk-proof is your tech? Here’s how to understand those waterproof ratings
If you’ve bought a smartphone or e-reader lately, in its spec you may have spotted an IP rating for waterproofing and debris protection. IP stands for ‘immersion’ or ‘ingress’ protection, and the higher the numbers the better the internals are sealed and protected from the elements. IP is usually followed by two digits: the first refers to the level of protection from foreign bodies like dust and dirt, and the second digit relates to waterproofing. Most modern gadgets carry a rating of 6 for dust protection, which means they are completely dust tight. A water rating of 7 equates to submersion survival down to one metre for 30 minutes, while an 8-rated gadget can handle 1.5 metres for 30 minutes. You may also see IPX ratings doing the rounds (for example, as found on the IPX8-rated Amazon Kindle Paperwhite). This means the gadget can withstand full submersion. For the exact depth and duration, always check the manufacturer’s spec.
An IP67 waterproof and dust-proof rating means the Megablast is capable of surviving a 30-minute dunking at a depth of one metre. I crank out a pool party mix and sink the Megablast to the bottom of the tank, just as the chorus of Young Blood by Naked & Famous kicks in. Alexa is unable to hear my barked commands at the bottom, but I wasn’t really expecting it to pick me up anyway. I pull it out after 30 minutes to hear the dulcet tones of Rupert Holmes’ Escape (you know, the ‘Pina Colada song’). Result!
That’s the holiday playlist sorted, but what about poolside reading? It used to be that your summer page turner would arrive on holiday in perfect condition, but return dog-eared, with pages wrinkled by pool water and sun cream. Swap in Amazon’s newest Kindle Paperwhite ereader and not only do you bag yourself up to 32GB of storage for ebooks and audiobooks, but an IPX8 rating means it can withstand 60 minutes of freshwater immersion to a depth of two metres.
While lowering the device into the tank, I imagine doing the same to a paperback and laugh aloud, raising looks of concern from the nearby T3 photography team (maybe they think all this ice water has somehow addled my brain?). One hour later and the Paperwhite is out of the water. It fires up without issue, so I wait for the numbness of my frozen arm to subside by reading a chapter of Moby Dick.
If you rely on a laptop to work on the go, the biggest threats to your tech are a drink spillage on a busy commute, or being caught in a downpour when working al fresco. To avoid fried circuit boards I’ve enlisted Lenovo’s 14-inch ThinkPad T480 laptop, complete with spill-resistant keyboard.
A hearty splash of water across the keys does nothing at all to derail its performance, with the liquid flowing out of the built-in drainage holes just as Jack Ryan takes out some baddies on the lush 14-inch FHD screen. You’d be foolish to take this laptop for a swim, but it’ll keep on trucking should your lunchtime latte take a tumble.
In our controlled testing environment these waterproof gadgets lived up to their claims, but there are bigger threats, and deeper waters, out there in the real world – salt water also tends to be more damaging than fresh water, so the sea would be riskier to long-time dunking. Keeping a tight grip on your tech is still the best form of protection, but who knows, as technology advances, in ten years time we might be taking calls from the bottom of the sea.
FAR LEFT The Megablast has more fun underwater than SpongeBob and his crew LEFT The Apple Watch can take another 50 metres of this. Our writer’s hand can’t
above The i360 player is perfect for our watery megamix: Seven Seas of Rhye, Purple Rain, Cry Me a River, Waterfalls…