What is a Rugged Phone? IP certified explained

Tough, durable, IP68 rated, Mil-Spec certified: as part of the Did You Know? blog series, we explore the rugged features of Cat® phones.

Here we’ll dive into the technology standard of IP ratings.

What is an IP rating?

IP rating, short for Ingress Protection (IP), is an international standard used to show the level of protection against intrusion by solids, like dust or sand, or by liquids like water. The rating shows how well a product is sealed against these elements.

Rugged Cat S41 smartphone | Cat phones

What do the IP rating numbers mean? 

IP is usually followed by a two-digit number, such as IP55 or IP68. The first number relates to the protection level against dust or similar – 6 is the highest number you can get, meaning total protection. The second digit relates to liquid protection. Here you might see 8 or 9 as the highest achievable rating.

Rugged smartphones | Cat phones

As phone manufacturers try to improve on protection you will start to see more phones which carry IP68 or IP69 ratings, such as the Cat® S41 and Cat® S61 smartphones.

So, what does this all mean? What can you do with an IP68 phone, which you can’t do with an IP67 phone for example?

IP67 v. IP68 phones

Simply put, the difference in these phones relates purely to how well the device can cope with immersion in water, for how long and to what depth.

Both these ratings offer the highest level of protection against solid objects like dust, indicated by level 6 – the first digit. So, if you find yourself in a very dusty room resulting from your DIY jobs, or the kids decide to use it to build their sandcastle, your phone should continue to work without problems.

The second digit – level 8 – means the phone can be immersed in water beyond 1 meter, but to understand exactly how deep it can go, you’ll need to read the small print in the user manual. Level 7 means it can survive depths of water up to 1 meter versus beyond 1m for Level 8, so that’s the difference.

In the case of the Cat S60 smartphone, which carries an IP68 rating, it is waterproof up to 5m for 60 minutes.

Is an IP67 rating enough?

This will depend on how you use your phone. Every day use of instant messenger and other apps whilst on your lunch break, streaming music, taking photos, using voice search, or checking emails will all be fine with a phone that has an IP67 rating.

More and more mainstream phones are becoming available with higher IP ratings. This is partly to offer greater protection against accidental damage in everyday use- the most common of these being a drop, resulting in cracked screen displays.

The iPhone 7 Plus, for example, is IP67 rated. The Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus, which according to Tech Radar is the best smartphone of 2018, is IP68 certified. Both of these phones are very popular and in common use. Yet, you would not expect to use these pretty looking devices on a building site, would you?

If you want to use your phone, as a plumber, engineer or electrician, farmer or fire fighter, you will be better off with a phone that’s built rugged, whilst also carrying the highest IP68 or IP69k? rating.

What difference does the IP69 rating make?

IP69 rating is one level higher than IP68. The difference between the two relates to the level of protection against liquids and right now, ‘9’ is the highest protection available.

Waterproof Cat S61 smartphone | Cat phones

Both IPX9 and IPX9K ratings mean the product has been tested, and is protected, against close-range high pressure and high temperature spray downs. This is particularly useful in industries like the fire service, where a phone might be at risk of severe wash-downs from high pressure washers or hoses.

To learn more about IP ratings and the different tests carried out to achieve them, read here.

Tough, IP68 and IP69 rated Cat phones

At Cat phones, we offer a range of smartphone and feature phones built rugged, with an IP67, IP68 and/or IP69K certification.

Cat smartphones range | Cat phones

Cat Smartphones with IP ratings

  • The Cat S31 is IP68 certified, waterproof up to 1.2m for 35 minutes.
  • Cat S41 is IP68 and IP69 certified, waterproof up to 2m for 60 minutes.
  • The Cat S60 smartphone is IP68 certified, waterproof up to 5m for 60 minutes.
  • The Cat S61 carries both an IP68 and IP69K rating and is waterproof up to 3m for 60minutes.

 Cat feature phones with IP ratings

  • The Cat B30 is IP67 certified, waterproof up to 1m for 30 minutes.
  • The latest Cat B35 carries an IP68 rating and is waterproof up to 1.2m for 35 minutes.

Want to understand Mil-Spec ratings? Read our other blog about military standards.


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