The distinctive appearance of Apple AirPods certainly makes them instantly recognizable, but are they waterproof, and will they stand up to runs in the rain and workouts at the gym? Here we explore AirPods and AirPods Pro, what those IP ratings mean, and look at some alternatives to Apple’s earbuds.
You can wear some Airpods in the rain. Standard Airpods are not water-resistant, however, AirPods Pro ARE water-resistant. They are designed to handle sweat and slight water splashes. However, they are not water-proof, meaning they shouldn’t be used in watersports or in the shower. Many fans are stating that they frequently wear them in the rain without problems.
We will now go more into detail.
While many wearers are saying that they wear their AirPods in the shower and even when swimming. It is essential to remember that Apple does not make any claims whatsoever that AirPods are waterproof. Apple’s AirPod Pro’s are water-resistant with a rating of IPX4 meaning that they can withstand small water splashes. Owners using their products in and around water are invalidating their warranty.
Potentially, the more they are used in wet environments, the faster the water-resistant seals degrade, and the less time the AirPods will survive. Over time the seals degrade naturally, but by using them in wet environments, you risk speeding up the process and shortening the life of your devices.
So, you ask – What is IP? IP is the rating given to devices that refers to the level of protection they have from water, dust, and other possible fluids or particles. The rating begins with ‘IP’ and then the remaining code, which is two or three numbers and/or letters to provide the rating level.
The first digit after ‘IP’ refers to the level of protection against the ingress of solid matter, such as dust. When a device does not offer any protection against the ingress of solid matter, then the symbol is zero (0). On occasions when the device has not even been tested for the ingress of solid matter, then the first symbol is X. For example, as above IPX4, the AirPods Pro is not tested against ingress of dust or solid matter.
There are nine levels of protection against water, and this is the second symbol after ‘IP’. In the case of the AirPods Pro ‘4’ is the rating given for water resistance. The same as with solid ingress, when a device is not tested for water resistance, the symbol is an X. The third symbol F, H, M, S, or W, when used, is the resistance level against other factors such as high voltage or oil.
|IP||First digit (after IP):|
Ingress of solid objects
|IP||Second digit (after IP):|
Ingress of liquids (Water)
|X||Not tested||X||Not tested|
|0||No protection||0||No protection|
|1||Protected against solid objects over 50mm = hands, large tools||1||Protected against vertically falling drops of water or condensation|
|2||Protected against solid objects over 12.5mm = hands, large tools||2||Protected against falling drops of water, from 15o angle|
|3||Protected against a solid object over 2.5mm = wire, small tools||3||Protected against water sprays from any direction, including 60o angle|
|4||Protected against a solid object over 1.0mm = wires||4||Protected against water splash from any direction|
|5||Dust ingress protected, sufficient to prevent harm||5||Protected against water jets from any angle|
|6||Total protection against dust ingress||6||Protected against high-pressure water jets from any angle.|
|7||N/A||7||Protected against immersion in water for up to 30 minutes up to 3 feet depth|
|8||N/A||Protected against long term submersion up to 13 feet depth|
|9||N/A||Protected High-Temperature and High-Pressure Water Jets|
Apple AirPods Ratings
The AirPods Pro was not tested against particle ingress and achieved a rating of 4 for water resistance.
As AirPods and second-generation AirPods have no IP rating against water or dust, they are deemed unsuitable to use in situations where they may get wet. However, Airpods Pro have test rating IPX4 and may be used when working out and where they might get splashed. Apple says:
‘Your AirPods Pro is water and sweat resistant, but they are not waterproof or sweatproof. The wireless charging case is not water or sweat resistant. AirPods Pro isn’t designed for use in water sports like swimming, or for showering.
After workouts, heavy sweating, or water splashes and before putting AirPods Pro into the wireless charging case, wipe down your AirPods Pro with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth. Don’t use heat or compressed air to dry your AirPods Pro.‘(Apple, USA, 2020).
What about the Warranty?
Even the Airpods Pro are not warranted against water damage from prolonged use in wet situations, and they are sold as only suitable for sweat and light splashes. Because they are sold as only suitable for water splashes, they cannot be recommended for use in situations where they will be exposed to prolonged wetness. However, there are large numbers of users of all types of AirPods who are using their devices in wet conditions, trouble-free. Their successful use is a testament to the usability of these in the rain.
However, remember officially, AirPods Pro are only deemed sweat and water-resistant for non-water exercise and sports.
This leads us to the next question, which is how much rain do AirPods withstand? Here we hand over to long-distance runner and North Wales resident Matthew Leonard for his expert user opinion:
‘I don’t believe that Apple claim that their AirPods are water proof or water resistant. Despite this, I wear AirPods for all of my daily training runs. As I live in North Wales, I regularly run in rain, and occasionally hail and snow.
I’ve had my AirPods for approx 2 years, and they are working as well as they did when I first had them, despite this regular exposure to the elements.’(Leonard M, 2019.)
For those who don’t know, Anglesey in North Wales where Matthew lives is a beautiful part of the United Kingdom that is known for its wet and stormy weather.
Many Happy Users
Officially Apple AirPods are not waterproof, and sensibly, you should consider only using them in rain when wearing a hood or under an umbrella. However, Matthew is not alone in successfully using his AirPods in wet conditions. Although it would be unprofessional to recommend any device not designed for use in the rain as suited to rain and wet use.
Alternatives to AirPods
So, what should you do? There are alternative wireless earbuds that are waterproof and sweatproof. Such as the Jaybird Vista which has undergone military-style testing and has an IPX7 waterproof rating. Or, the Jabra Elite Active 65t with a rating of IP56. Or for a real bargain considering the stylish Plantronics Backbeat FIT 3200.
Here is a comparison table:
|Earbuds Name||IP Rating||Waterproof or Water Resistant|
|Apple AirPods Pro||IPX4||Water Resistant|
|Jabra Elite Active 65t||IP56||Waterproof|
|Plantronics Backbeat FIT 3200||IP57||Waterproof|
Plantronics bring you guaranteed waterproof earbuds and these are great for a workout or running in any conditions. They are designed with flexible over-ear hooks for added security and comfort. The Backbeat FIT 3200 is designed for the gym and using outdoors too, and unlike the Apple earbuds, they are actually intended to use in any weather including rain.
The Backbeat FIT 3200 earbuds have a rating of IP57 and are actually waterproof to 1M for 30 minutes. However, Bluetooth doesn’t transmit underwater. For a multi-use earbud for wearing in the rain, for running or to the gym these are a good choice that is much cheaper than both the AirPods versions and remember these 3200’s are actually waterproof!
Plantronics have upgraded the 3200 from the 3100 for better connectivity, and the battery life has increased to eight hours. These earbuds are super stylish, have the highest rating of all those mentioned here and are the lowest price too, but that low cost doesn’t reflect in the style, they look good, and they look expensive!
Despite the dodgy appearance, Apple fans will probably still go with the Apple AirPods and probably spend the extra for the water-resistant Pro too. Anyone else is advised to consider the alternatives and to carefully consider what you will be using the wireless earbuds for when making your choice.
There are some really nice, stylish alternatives to the Airpods and AirPods Pro. The smart money is on the waterproof options, you never know when you are going to get caught out in the rain.