For years, OnePlus has refused to IP rate its phones, even as its prices creep up. The company has attributed this to a cost-saving measure, telling us that a real IP rating would add $30 to the cost of each handset, even though they are already ostensibly water resistant. In a preemptive move, the company is letting us know that its next device also won't have an IP rating. Instead, OnePlus made a video spiking a phone into a bucket of water — because, of course, marketing is better than a real IP rating.
The argument appears to come down to: IP ratings cost money, so instead of spending money we got a bucket, and we're happy to say The OnePlus 7 is water-resistant in our super scientific bucket test. Obviously, that's just as good.
As part of this ridiculous bucket challenge, the company also wants to remind us that its warranty does not cover water damage. While that is the same as every other OEM that does actually provide an IP rating, the difference is that an IP rated phone has actually been tested in specific circumstances. By passing those rigorous tests, you can be confident it won't get fried the next time you need to take a call during a drizzle, regardless of the warranty terms.
At some level, the company must understand that the argument it's trying to make just doesn't work. First, it announced the video with an immediately defensive tone, saying "At OnePlus, we always aim to doing [sic] the right things based on what you really need not the industry." IP ratings are, apparently, all about pleasing the industry, and not customers.
OnePlus co-founder Carl Pei later admitted that IP ratings have some use, but he thinks this ridiculous video is, in fact, even better than a real rating:
We know that an IP rating would be the simplest way to prove our phone’s capability, but the certification doesn’t help us communicate our focus on your real experience, which is why we created this direct and relatable video to show you what our water-resistant quality can actually bring to you in your real life in a more powerful way.
I fail to see how a heavily-edited advertisement conveys a "real" or "relatable" experience, especially when customers everywhere can be confident in the results of an actual, objective IP rating. A promotional video of a phone ostensibly being tossed into a bucket, portrayed as something better than an empirical assessment, is at best a bad joke, and at worst actively disingenuous.
We reached out to OnePlus for comment and were provided with the following statement by a spokesperson:
We always aim to create the best device by prioritizing a balanced feature-set. We test for water resistance. This isn't a call to action to drop your phone in a bucket, but communicates that IP ratings are simply a classification, and that it's not required for water-resistance.
Some customers are bound to watch this video and assume the phone is up to the same standards as other stringently tested flagships. Unfortunately for OnePlus, tossing a phone in a bucket isn't an adequate test, that's precisely why we have IP ratings.