With the OnePlus 9 series, OnePlus finally established itself as a premium smartphone brand. Naturally, this also increases consumer expectations. Compromises that were deemed acceptable a few years ago due to a cheaper price tag, no longer cut it now that OnePlus is counting itself as a premium phone maker and asking for top dollar. One such compromise that OnePlus users had to accept in the past was the lack of water and dust resistance rating. That finally changed last year with the OnePlus 8 series, which for the first time in the history of OnePlus, carried an official water resistance rating, albeit with caveats. Well, the situation isn’t any different with the OnePlus 9 series, either.
OnePlus 9: Water resistance, with caveats
In the US, the vanilla OnePlus 9 comes in two variants: the carrier-locked T-Mobile variant and an unlocked model, which is available from OnePlus, Amazon, Best Buy, and others. Both variants are identical in every respect, except that only the T-Mobile variant comes with an official IP68 rating.
If you go for the unlocked model, you can still expect it to provide some level of water and dust protection since both phones have the same hardware and build material, but there is no certification rating to give you any added peace of mind. As such, we’d recommend against trying to purposefully dip your phone in water — but if get a few accidental splashes, your phone should be fine for the most part.
IP certification adds up to the device cost
There’s no official body or third-party institution that certifies or gives smartphones an IP rating. Rather, the IP rating is just a set of standards agreed upon by the smartphone industry. The certification is carried out by the OEM itself, and since this process costs money and time, many OEMs don’t bother going through it, especially when affordability is the ultimate goal. As OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei revealed in an interview with MKBHD, it can cost up to $15 per device to do the IP certification, so we can totally see why it’s not a common feature on budget and mid-range phones.
What about the OnePlus 9 Pro and its water resistance?
The OnePlus 9 Pro, regardless of which model you get, comes with an IP68 rating for dust and water resistance and thus is safe to be used around water. And we wouldn’t settle for anything less either, considering the phone does cost $999.
To summarize, the OnePlus 9 Pro (all variants) and the T-Mobile OnePlus 9 have a proper IP68 rating, meaning you can take them near a swimming pool or dunk in a fish tank (this will scare the fish though, so do take care). Meanwhile, OnePlus decided not to certify the unlocked OnePlus 9 to save money and time. However, since it’s built with the same material and build process, it should be able to survive a splash or two — just don’t go swimming with it as it’s not officially tested to survive underwater.