A case of dumbing down on measures for US audience

Amid the reports last year about the failure of consumer tests for the Galaxy S7 Active phone, one notable difference between the official use of the International Protection (a.k.a Ingress Protection) marks and the consumer reviews on an American website is the use of different measurement systems. Ronnie Cohen explains.

While IP marking uses metric units, the US website used imperial units for their audience.

So what is IP marking?

For the IP marking system, the letters IP are followed by two digits. The first digit after the letters can be between 1 and 6 and represents resistance to damage from solids. The second digit after the letters can be between 1 and 8 and represents resistance to damage from liquids.

The first digit can be one of the following values:

  1. Protection against a solid object greater than 50 mm (e.g. a hand).
  2. Protection against a solid object greater than 12.5 mm (e.g. a finger).
  3. Protection against a solid object greater than 2.5 mm (e.g. a screwdriver).
  4. Protection against a solid object greater than 1 mm (e.g. a wire).
  5. Protection from dust. Limited entry of dust is permitted and will not interfere with operation of equipment for 2-8 hours.
  6. Immune to entry of dust. No dust will not affect will affect operation of equipment for 2-8 hours.

The second digit can be one of the following values:

  1. Protection against vertically falling drops of water. Limited entry permitted.
  2. Protection against vertically falling drops of water with enclosure tilted up to 15 degrees from the vertical. Limited entry permitted.
  3. Protection against vertically falling drops of water with enclosure tilted up to 60 degrees from the vertical. Limited entry permitted for 3 minutes.
  4. Protection against water splashed from all directions. Limited entry permitted.
  5. Protection against jets of water. Limited entry permitted.
  6. Water from heavy seas or projected in powerful jets shall not enter the enclosure in harmful quantities.
  7. Protection against the effects of immersion in water between 15 cm and 1 m for 30 minutes.
  8. Protection against the effects of immersion in water under pressure for long periods.

You would take the digits that represent the relevant protection levels against solids and liquids for the equipment and add them after the letters IP to give you a rating.

Here is an example for the provision of a rating for a piece of kit. If your piece of kit was completely immune to dust, that gives you a solid rating of 6. If it was protected against damage from jets of water, that gives you a liquid rating of 5. When you put these figures together, that gives you an IP rating of IP65.

More details about IP ratings

The Blue Sea Systems website gives more details about various ratings in the list. In its explanations, it uses litres, millimetres and metres. The International Electromechanical Commission (IEC) established the IP rating system to provide information about the levels of protection against water and dust and indicate how must solid and liquid pressure equipment can withstand.

Consumer Report on Galaxy S7 Active

However, go to the websites to read about the reviews of the Galaxy S7 Active phone and you will find that the product failed water immersion tests twice. Judging by the content of the Android Central website, the reports were clearly aimed at an American audience.

The reports used feet to describe the water test. It told viewers that the product could not withstand half an hour in water about 5 feet deep. The site tells viewers that the test used a water tank pressurised to 2.12 pounds-per-square-inch and equates that to just under 5 feet of water.

These figures are mentioned and compared to the claim made on Page i (which comes before Page 1 of the Galaxy S7 Active manual. Here is a quote from that manual:

“NOTE: Water-resistant and dustproof based on IP68 rating, which tests submersion up to 5.0 feet for up to 30 minutes.”

How ironic that the manufacturer quotes the metric-based IP rating and converts it into feet for its consumers. Is this a case of hiding the metric and dumbing down the figures to suit an American customer base?

The consumer report about the Galaxy S7 Active can be found at http://www.androidcentral.com/galaxy-s7-active-failed-consumer-reports-water-test-twice. The report heading is “The Galaxy S7 Active failed Consumer Reports’ water test, twice”.

Information about IP marking can be found at:

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5 Responses to A case of dumbing down on measures for US audience

  1. Daniel Jackson says:

    A company cannot just apply an IP rating to its products. They have to be tested by a reputable agency. In the US, IP values are acceptable, but American products are usually made to comply to NEMA standards. See here:


    The descriptions given for the US audience doesn't seem to coincide with any NEMA rating. I don't know where they would have picked those values from, but unless they can provide documented testing proof the product meets either an IP or NEMA standard, it is all nonsense.

    Marketers of any product are not trained to provide truthful information but to obfuscate and deceive as much as they can get away with legally. so, it isn't a surprise they would come up with figures that will tickle the American ear but aren't backed by a standard.

  2. Daniel Jackson says:

    In an addendum to my previous post, Consumer Reports is an American magazine published since 1936 by Consumers Union, a nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased product testing, consumer-oriented research, public education, and advocacy. Consumer Reports publishes reviews and comparisons of consumer products and services based on reporting and results from its in-house testing laboratory and survey research center.



    Consumer Reports like Popular Mechanics, National Geographic, etc, use the units they assume the American public understands. They don't care if industries and the world are metric. They feel proud to go against the grain.

    Now, as is all common with conversions, an error may have been made. The IP_7 spec only calls for a depth between 150 mm and 1 m. IP_8 spec calls for "Protection against the effects of immersion in water under pressure for long periods", but no specific depth or pressure is stated. They chose 5 feet which is a hidden metric value for 1.5 m. If we couple IP_7 and IP_8 we may be able to conclude the immersion in water would be to depths between 150 mm and 1 m. The difference between 7 & 8 is the under pressure part. Consumer Reports may have incorrectly converted 150 mm to 5 feet instead of 0.5 feet. Or maybe they did convert correctly but wrote it as .5 feet instead of 0.5 feet and someone missed the decimal point.

    The pressure of 1500 mm of water is 14.71 kPa, so the pressure they claim matches the 1500 mm depth.

    Before we can claim though that their testing to 1500 mm is outside the the IP_8 rating, we need to know if there are limits on the depth of the liquid to meet the IP_8 rating and if 1 m is the limit then Consumer Reports test was invalid

  3. Ezra Steinberg says:

    One bit of good news reported by a member of the executive team of the US Metric Association is that "teaspoons" have with very rare exceptions disappeared completely in the USA on medicines as they have been replaced by dosage indications in milliliters (as "mL"). It is expected that the last remnants of printed indications of dosages in teaspoons will be gone completely in short order.

    Baby steps, to be sure, but a step forward nonetheless for the USA!

  4. jackthesmilingblack says:

    "A case of dumbing down on measures for US audience"
    Be advised that on satellite TV here in Japan, DS CNN use "kph" as the abbreviation for kilometres per hour. And not just for the weather forecast.
    "Where's the metre, Muppets?
    Jack, the Japan Alps Brit

  5. Ezra Steinberg says:

    Another small improvement in the American landscape for metric is a PBS Digital channel on YouTube with all kinds of science videos:


    These short videos are all most interesting, but what I especially like is the fact that they use metric exclusively (and sometime they even pronounce "kilometer" correctly 😉

    As a bit of a sop to Americans unfamiliar with metric I notice that in the lower left corner of the screen they put up in small letters an equation showing the equivalent value in US Customary units at the same time. But that is very unobtrusive and the prominent information is what you hear from the presenter.

    Let's hope that this is a trend over here for metric!


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