Waterproof vs Water-resistant: Quickly Explained

Waterproof vs Water-resistant: Quickly Explained

In dictionaries, waterproof is defined as “not allowing water to go through,” while water-resistant is defined as “able to resist water to a certain degree.” Reading it side by side, the two words seem to mean almost the same thing and are almost always interchanged when used to describe water protection. However, the two words have a difference to them that can save not only yourself but also your devices from water damage.

‘Water-resistant’ items can resist water, but not entirely prevent it from damaging the device. It can withstand light rain, splashes, or a split-second run under a faucet. Water-resistance allows devices to undergo a very short exposure to water and must be immediately removed from the liquid and dried at once. Most watches fall under the category of water-resistant.

On the other hand, ‘waterproof’ items are those that can be submerged in water and remain damage-free. The thing is, while devices may tout the word ‘waterproof’ when marketed to potential buyers, no device will remain waterproof forever. Most devices aren’t entirely ‘waterproof’ as there is no actual industry to certify if a device can survive being in the water for a long time. What the tech industry has that’s closest to a waterproof certification is an IP rating.


These days, a host of electronic devices, such as smartwatches and smartphones, have IP ratings attached to them. What’s an IP rating exactly, you ask? IP stands for “International Protection” rating, or “Ingress Protection” rating. It’s used to classify degrees of protection of items against objects such as dust and water. An IP rating is usually written as “IPXX,” with the ‘XX’ standing in for digit classifications.

The first digit in the rating pertains to dust protection, while the second digit pertains to water protection. The digit ratings range from 0-6 for dust protection, and 0-8 for liquid protection, with 0 being the lowest and 6/8 being the highest. For example, if a device has a rating of IP57, a device is dust-protected but not entirely prevented, and it can withstand water immersion up to 1m.

If your device has an IPX6 up to IPX8 rating, then you’re in luck as it can withstand water immersion. If you get pushed into a pool with your smartphone in hand, or if you drop your device in the sink of the toilet, the chances of it surviving is rather high. If your device has no IP rating but has the label ‘water-resistant’ attached to it, do remember to take caution when near liquids or sources of water.

We hoped that this article was able to help you distinguish water-resistant and waterproof devices. If there are other tech terms that you still find confusing, let us know in the comments!

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