Updated: Feb 14
From the IEC Blog - IEC March 30, 2020 -
The website of the WHO offers a number of recommendations for minimizing the spread of COVID-19, including the importance of washing your hands thoroughly and regularly. If you use your mobile phone to check the latest health advice, however, you may be at risk of transferring viruses and bacteria back to your hands.
Keeping your phone sanitized is therefore a very good idea. How you wash your phone will depend on how resistant it is to moisture. Although probably not advisable, some phones may even survive a gentle washing in soap and water. But how do you know if your phone is waterproof? The IEC has developed, and continually updates the international standard, IEC 60529, to rate the resistance of phones and other mobile devices against the intrusion of liquids and dust. The standard, prepared by Technical Committee 70, rates the degrees of protection offered by the phone’s enclosure using the IP Code.
It also defines the tests to be performed to verify that the enclosure meets the requirements of the standard.
For example, two of the flagship phones currently on sale are rated as splash, water, and dust resistant to IP67 and IP 68 respectively. The first digit following the IP shows the phone’s resistance to dust and the second to water.
They both get sixes, which is the top score, indicating no ingress of dust. When it comes to water resistance, the scale runs from zero (no protection) to nine (high-pressure hot water from different angles). Both the flagship phones are water resistant, but there is a significant difference between achieving a seven or an eight rating.
It is important to note that the IP rating is an indication of how the device was tested, not the conditions in which it can be used. According to Axel Klingberg, convenor of the maintenance team for IEC 60529, “this world-wide agreed (upon) standard is only describing the way to test products — not more, not less. A few drops of water inside can be very dangerous in one product, but not another.”
Standards and conformity assessment
The IEC provides international standards and conformity assessment for all electrical, electronic and related technologies. IEC conformity assessment verifies that standards are properly applied in real-world technical systems to guarantee safety and quality, in this way adding value to products and services.
This may mean using different kinds of conformity assessment—ranging from corporate self-assessment to relying on supplier’s declarations to independent, third-party assessment and testing—whichever are most appropriate according to the different levels of risk.
Cleaning your phone
As for how best to clean your phone, a major news organization asked Dr Lena Ciric, a microbiologist, for her advice: