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Waterproof Or Water Resistant? What’s Behind an IP Rating?

Waterproof Or Water Resistant? What’s Behind an IP Rating?

UPDATED 25/10/2023. You may have come across the term “IP rating” while shopping for earbuds. But what exactly do these ratings mean, and why are they important when it comes to choosing the right pair of earbuds for you?

What Is An IP Rating?

Before we delve into what IP ratings mean for your earbuds, let’s first understand what IP ratings actually are. IP stands for “Ingress Protection”, and it is a standard classification system developed by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to determine how well a device can withstand the intrusion of foreign objects such as dust and moisture. An IP rating is only officially given to a product that undergoes special testing by a certified, independent company.

What Do The Digits Mean?

Essentially, an IP rating indicates how protected your earbuds are against elements getting into them and causing issues. An IP rating consists of two digits and may look something like this:


The first digit indicates the level of protection against solid particles, such as dust and sand. The higher the number, the better protection of your earbuds. The scale ranges from 0 (no protection) to 6 (dust-tight) for full protection. For example, an IP6X rating ensures that the device is completely dust-tight, making it ideal for harsh outdoor conditions or industrial settings where fine dust particles are prevalent.

The second digit in an IP rating signifies the degree of protection against water and moisture. Like with the first rating digit for solids, higher numbers indicate a higher level of protection. This scale ranges from 0 (no protection) to 8 for the highest level of protection. For instance, with an IPX4 rating your earbuds are protected against splashing water from any direction. On the other hand, an IPX7 rating ensures that the device can be submerged in water up to 1 meter for 30 minutes without any damage. This level of protection is ideal if you feel like taking your earbuds with you for a quick swim.

What Does An IP Rating Mean For Your Earbuds?

Now that we know what IP ratings are, it’s clear they play a vital role in determining your earbuds durability and resistance to various environmental factors. Therefore, it can be a valuable feature to look out for when choosing your earbuds, as it really comes down to how you plan to use them. If you plan to use them during workouts, outdoor activities, commuting to work in any kind of weather or just the damp environment when doing the dishes, the right IP rating can ensure that your earbuds continue to function reliably, no matter what you put them through.

Man Wearing Jabra Elite 8 Active With An IP68 Rating

How Protective Are The Different IP Ratings?

But what exactly do the different ratings mean and which one should you choose? Choosing earbuds with higher IP ratings ensures a higher level of durability and protection against moisture and dust. However, higher IP ratings may also be accompanied by a higher price, so it’s worth to consider what level of durability you need for your earbuds use. Earbuds with lower IP ratings may still provide some level of protection very suitable for less extreme environments but perhaps not a bike ride in heavy rain. However, our Elite 8 Active earbuds with a rating of IP68 is tested to the world’s toughest earbuds and will be your reliable partner both during your sweaty workouts and when you get caught in heavy rain on your way home.

Let’s explore some common IP ratings in earbuds:

IPX4: This rating offers protection against splashes of water, making them suitable for workouts or light rain. While they may not be suitable for submersion, if you often find yourself nearby a pool (but not in it), this rating will have you covered.

IPX6: This rating withstands power jets of water from any direction. If you often find yourself getting caught in the rain on your commute or run (or you just like to run in the rain), this is for you.

IPX8: With such a high rating you get earbuds that are waterproof and fully submersible up to 1.5 meters for up to 30 mins. If you thrive in extreme weather conditions or environments, whether that is on a boat caught in a storm or a tough workout, this is the rating you should look for.

What IP Rating Should I Choose?

The ideal IP rating for your earbuds depends on your specific needs and usage patterns. If you want something that can go through even the toughest workouts in extreme weather, earbuds like the Elite 8 Active provides you with a high enough IP rating of IP68. However, for general everyday use, anything over IPX4 or IPX5 rating should be sufficient and luckily there’s plenty of high-quality earbuds to choose from.

Can I Swim With My Earbuds?

The short answer is yes, however we won’t tell you to go for it. While earbuds with an IPX7 rating or higher can handle submersion in water, it’s still recommended to check the user manual or manufacturer’s specifications to ensure they are explicitly designed for your specific activity. You’ll also experience that the Bluetooth connection doesn’t do well going through water. Additionally, prolonged exposure to saltwater or chlorinated water may still damage the earbuds over time, so caution is always advised.

What If A Product Doesn’t Have An IP Rating?

Is it a bad product, if the product doesn’t have an IP rating? Not necessarily. All that means is that a product did not go through this specific IP test. It’s not unusual for a product to get tested for, say, water resistance but not dust resistance. In this case, it may literally have a rating like “IPX7” on it. Here, “X” is not the same as “0.” It just means the manufacturer didn’t specifically test the product for protection from solids. IP ratings can also be missing if the company went for a different certification or rating standard. Look for other quality marking that proves the product is water- or dust-resistant.

By considering the IP rating, you can ensure that your earbuds are not only perfect for your needs but also capable of withstanding the conditions they may encounter. So, next time you’re in the market for earbuds, don’t overlook the significance of IP ratings!


Jabra offers a range of Bluetooth headphones and sports earbuds that are tested and rated according to IP standards.