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What is the difference between Waterproof and Water Resistant?

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  • 7 min read

Electronics, especially smartphones and its accessories such as smartwatches or wireless earbuds are increasingly becoming an integral part of our lives, and since they command such an essential place in our lives, it’s vital to make sure that they’re durable.

If you are into travelling, photography or maybe planning an event and want to know how to protect your device from moisture, we have shared all the information below necessary to make your device intrusion free.

Waterproof vs Water-resistant

Although the two words might look pretty much the same, they mean entirely different things. And before you buy a device that’s either waterproof or water-resistant certified, it makes sense to learn how the two are different.


Water-resistance signifies the tendency of a gadget to resist the penetration of water and how well the component is coated and sealed against the ingress of liquid. But there is a catch. Resistance will be there as long as the device is kept in good shape. If the design of the equipment is compromised, it might lose its water-resistance capabilities.


Waterproofing is another term that certifies the strength of the device against water and is so frequently used that the synonymity overshadows the concept it holds. Waterproof certification means that the device is impervious to water. As of now, there is no standardised method and technique to optimise a device so that it’s completely waterproof. Even big players like Apple, Samsung, Rolex can not guarantee protection against water for the full life cycle of a device.

So no matter what rating the device you just bought has received, it is prudent to handle it with care and only use it around moisture when the device is in good shape.

Also read: What to do if you drop your phone in the water? Here are 4 ways to dry it

What are the methods of rating a device?

With all the hype and uncertainty about the device protection against water, how long the device can stay in the water to how deep it can go without compromising its integrity, it becomes much more feasible to rely on the rating it gets from the genuine rating methods in place. Every device inscribed with such rating codes goes through an array of tests to finally be certified water-resistant.

International Protection Standard Rating

The term was first coined in 1976  by International Electrotechnical Commission, and can also be termed as an ingress protection rating. These standards were formulated to end the demographical criteria that created confusion among users.

The device’s IP rating signifies the resilience level against the intrusion of dust and water; this rating is more suited with mobile and cameras.

The Format in which IP rating is written is “IPXX” where both the X’s are numerical. First X represents protection against dust and second X represents protection against liquid.

The higher the numerical value the higher the protection. Although it must be noted that the maximum numerical value for protection against dust is six in contrast to a liquid’s eight.

Protection against water

  • IPX0: Provides no protection, when in contact with water.
  • IPX1: Protection in light rainfall with drops falling vertically.
  • IPX2: Protection against vertically falling droplets at an angle of 15° or less, in mild rainfall and wind conditions.
  • IPX3: Withstand heavy rainstorm with water sprayed from one direction at a time up to a 60-degree angle.
  • IPX4: Mitigate ingress from all directions not just from rain but also from splash.
  • IPX5: Tested with a concentration of water pressure with low-pressure jet nozzle stream of 6.5mm, provide protection in heavy rainfall from all directions.
  • IPX6: Mitigate ingress of high-pressure jet stream with a nozzle of 12.5mm,  devices with such rating can be operated in ship decks.
  • IPX7:  Allows submersion of the device into the water up to 1m for a definite period which should not be more than 30 minutes.
  • IPX8: Device can be submerged into the water beyond the 1-metre range with no time-bound.

International Organisation for Standardisation

Founded in 1947, ISO ( International Organisation for Standardization) is a non-governmental organisation comprising more than 160 member countries. It was formulated to set international standards for technology, scientific testing process and many more.

It also gives International water-resistant standards for regular and diving watches as set by ISO.

  • ISO 2281: Introduced in 1990 by ISO as ISO 2281:1990; it is an international standard rating regulation for daily wear timepiece, that can withstand occasional rainfall, splash, and swimming. Rating is given behind the case of a watch in the following manner.
  • 30m or 50m water resistant: Signifies protection against rain and water-related activities excluding swimming. The watch can even submerge in water but can not hold the pressure for a more extended period.
  • 100m water resistant: Other than the diving, timepiece with 100m WR can handle underwater pressure for hours and are suitable for water sports such as surfing, swimming, sailing, among others
  • 200m water resistant: Mitigate any kind of pressure above sea level and protects in all types of weather and sports activity.
  • ISO 6425: Introduced in 1996, this standard rating regulation was implemented to formulate guidelines that ensure mitigation of water ingress in diving watches. The depth state is given below.
  • 100m Divers: It provides protection underwater up to the depth of 100m. It can withstand pressure underwater.
  • 200m or 300m Divers: They are new generation divers watches. Suitable for scuba diving up to the depth of 200 or 300m.
  • 300+m Divers: Watches with more than 300m depth water resistant are helium safe and been used by divers who spend days underwater. These watches have a valve that allows the divers to release all the accumulated gas inside the watch due to the deepwater pressure being underwater so that the timepiece doesn’t burst open.

Also read: Inkjet printers vs Laser printers: Which one should you buy?

How to make a device water-resistant?

Photo by Mike Meyers

There are various techniques that companies use to keep their products resilient from any intrusion; water-resistance increases the durability of the device. As mentioned earlier also, the factor that determines the safety of the equipment from moisture is its condition — less wear and tear means better resistance.

Three of the most popular methods to make a device or its components water-resistant are discussed below.

Silicone water-resilient conformal coating

There are so many silicone sprays in the market, which helps warding off the water droplets. It is easy to apply and starts working within 10 mins. Silicone is versatile, drys quickly and leaves behind non-oily layers. Silicone coating protects from short-circuiting and corrosion due to the entry of water.


Nano-coating is a cutting edge technology to prevent electronic items from corrosion. Nano-coating gives out a hydrophobic layer that is used by industrial-technological research institutes to give a lotus effect. Where water droplets instead of submerging, stand out upon the surface of the coating in a spherical shape. The layer does not allow the moisture to permeate the surface for days and the droplets are easy to wipe out.

Gasket and rubber

As it has become a trend now to buy a slim and lightweight phone, watches, cameras, and other gadgets, these lightweight devices are not just easy to carry, but they also give protection against any intrusion. Due to less space between the parts, all entry points are closed off so water can’t get inside.

Waterproof gasket covers the component all the way around making it adhesive. Even sim card opening is covered with a rubber ring, charging and microphone holes are sealed from the inside or have a water-resistant mesh placed between the microphone. This way, the device becomes watertight till it is in good shape.

Also read: What’s the difference between IPv4 and IPv6?

Vishal Chandel

Reader, Writer, Lawyer, Horse Rider. Vishal thinks he's funny, unless you beer him; then he's actually funny!

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