Have you ever seen somebody running or exercising while wearing AirPods? Yes. After all, they're the most popular wireless earbuds on the planet.
The problem is that the original AirPods (the ones with the stem design) aren't water- or sweat-resistant. And because of that, those who use them to listen to music while working out will inevitably find themselves with a pair of busted buds — probably sooner, not later.
The good news is that there's an entire category of wireless earbuds specifically designed to be worn while getting hot and sweaty. So how do you know if your earbuds are up to the task? It all boils down to a little something called the IP rating.
What is an IP rating?
An IP rating — or an “Ingress Protection” rating — is the rating given by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) that indicates how resistant a certain electronic device is to various solids (like dust) and liquids (like water).
How can you read an IP rating?
An IP rating can usually be found as a spec on an item’s packaging or product page, and it's the letters "IP" followed by two digits: for example, IP57. The first digit represents the rating (from 1 to 6) against solids, while the second digit represents its rating (from 1 to 8) against liquids. The higher the number, the more resistant it is to that element.
What if there's an "X" in the IP rating?
It's common to see an "X" in an IP rating where a number would typically be. This means that the electronic has not been rated for either a solid or liquid. Something that is IPX7-rated has not been tested for dust resistance, but it has a strong resistance to liquids.
What if there's no IP rating?
If an electronic device does not have an IP rating, that means it has not been tested for resistance against solids or liquids — and you should assume that it is not very resistant against either. For example, Apple's entry-level AirPods do not have an IP rating, while the brand’s higher-end AirPods 3 and AirPods Pro both are IPX4 rated.
What is a good IP rating for working out?
If you're wondering if it's safe to wear a certain pair of wireless earbuds and sweat without destroying them, you want to use ones rated IPX4 or higher. This means they are at least splash-resistant. However, if you sweat a lot, it might not be enough.
IPX4, IPX5, IPX6, IPX7 and IPX8: What's the difference?
The higher the number rises, the more water-resistant the device gets, of course. IPX4 is splash-resistant; IPX5 is resistant to a sustained low-pressure water spray; IPX6 means your earbuds can withstand a sustained high-pressure spray. An IPX7 or IPX8 rating means they can be submerged for 30 minutes and still survive — the only difference being that IPX8-rated buds can go a little deeper.
Which wireless earbuds have the highest IP rating?
The Beats Fit Pro are IPX4 rated and have a flexible wingtip that helps them stay in your ears while working out. They are powered by Apple's H1 chip, just like AirPods Pro, so they can quickly pair with your iPhone.
The Elite 7 Active are fantastic wireless earbuds for working out and exercise. Each earbud is IP57-rated, but they only come with a two-year warranty.
The Jaybird Vista 2 are wireless earbuds specifically designed for endurance athletes. Each earbud has an IP68 rating, while the charge case is also pretty durable, with an IP54 rating of its own.