Apple noted with the introduction of its new $249 AirPods Pro that they’re rated for IPX4 water resistance. Don’t plan on going for swims with the new wireless earbuds any time soon, however.
It’s important to note that the first and second-generation AirPods have no defense against water. While some joggers and other athletes may have used them in the occasional passing sprinkle or rain shower, Apple offers no direct guarantee that your AirPods aren’t going to be ruined. Compared to newer Apple Watch and iPhone models, that has left users of AirPods on their own in the event of any kind of liquid intrusion inside the AirPods.
AirPods Pro are the first AirPods to be rated as water-resistant, because Apple has noted that they comply with the IPX4 rating. But what is the IPX4 rating?
The IP Code is an international rating system published by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC). The IEC defines the degree of protection an electrical enclosure might have against the intrusion of everything from solid objects (including body parts) to dust and water. It’s designed to provide both businesses and consumers with a clear understanding of what companies mean when they use a term like “water-resistant.”
In this case, IPX4 means that that AirPods Pro are resistant to the splashing of water. According to the IEC:
Water splashing against the enclosure from any direction shall have no harmful effect, utilizing either: a) an oscillating fixture, or b) A spray nozzle with no shield.
Test a) is conducted for 10 minutes. Test b) is conducted (without shield) for 5 minutes minimum.
In other words, don’t go bathing or swimming with your AirPods Pro – but if you’re caught in the rain or even a significant downpour, or take a splash to the face from a vehicle hitting a deep puddle near you, it should be ok. This also means you’re free to spritz your own perspiration on the AirPods to your heart’s content – though I’ve sweat plenty in my first-gen AirPods and suffered no ill effects, outside of the darn things slipping out of my ears. Something that I hope is finally fixed with the AirPods Pro’s flexible silicone tips.
Is that sufficient for you or do you need more water protection than IPX4 allows? Tell us what you think in the comments.