Your iPhone and water aren't meant to be best friends. And yet, if you take your phone with you everywhere you go, it's likely that your phone has been splashed or even submerged in water.
British research suggests that about 11 percent of smartphones come to an untimely death each year due to a bath in water. Thousands more are probably exposed to water, although they might seem just fine on the outside.
How do you know if your iPhone is lost due to water? And what should you do next? Let's dig in and find out.
What Does a Wet iPhone Look Like?
Chances are, you know when your phone and water have been introduced. Yelling and cursing were probably involved. But if someone borrows your phone and dunks it, or you purchase a phone and aren't sure of its history, you might have questions.
The inside of your iPhone is a marvel of technology. Tiny wires, wee batteries, and more all gather together to give you speed and performance. Water can ruin some of those connections, and when that happens, your phone won't work as it should. It's typical for fried, wet phones to:
- Go silent. Your headphones won't work, and your external speakers won't pump sound either.
- Lock up. You won't be able to open specific applications, or they might open and then close again.
- Loop. Your phone might turn on and then off over and over again.
You may see signs of water on the phone's screen. A fog you can't wipe away is a hallmark of humidity trapped within the device. You may also see wet spots left behind when you set down your phone and pick it back up again.
Even if you don't see the damage, your phone is recording the exposure. Apple puts a tiny indicator inside its phones, and it changes color when water comes into contact with it. The indicator location varies, depending on your iPhone model:
- Models 4 and 4s: inside the charging port
- Models 5 and up: inside the SIM tray
It's not easy to open the SIM tray on newer phones. You'll need a tool or a paperclip to pop things open. And you should never open the tray when your phone is running. But if you see that indicator is no longer white, your phone has been exposed with a dose of water Apple engineers find unacceptable.
Take your iPhone to the Genius Bar, and that's one of the first things your friendly technician will search for. If that water damage is found, bad news is ahead.
What Happens Next
Apple takes a hard stance against water damage, and if it's spotted, that almost automatically means you need to pull out your wallet to pay for anything you'd like to have done.
Consider this: Apple offers a one-year manufacturer's warranty on all products, even if you don't buy them from Apple. But if your iPhone indicator shows that the device has come into contact with water, Apple won't pay for any repairs required under your warranty. That damage is your responsibility, per the company's policy.
But Apple certainly can fix the problems if you choose to pay. You'll have a fee ranging from about $150 to about $600, depending on your model of phone. This is the maximum amount that Apple will charge for out-of-warranty repairs, but it is a hefty bill to pay.
You can choose to sell your phone instead and look for a new model that works just right. But expect to find a buyer and a reasonable price only if your phone:
- Still works. If it doesn't turn on or it glitches or freezes, your buyers will balk at it.
- Isn't cracked or dinged. Cosmetic problems like scratches and scuffs become more worrisome when combined with water.
- Is relatively new. Old phones aren't worth as much as new models, and it’s hard for companies to find a buyer for really old models.
- Is owned. If you're still paying for your phone, most resale companies will want proof that you've settled the bill before you try to sell it.
Prevention Steps to Take
If you're lucky enough to have an iPhone that's never been introduced to water, your goal is to keep that meeting from ever taking place. There are a few commonsense steps you can take to make that happen.
Research from Square Trade says the top five iPhone accidents involve:
- Dropping the device from your hand.
- Slipping the phone into a toilet, swimming pool, or lake.
- Knocking the phone off your lap.
- Sliding the handset off a table.
- Spilling a drink onto the device.
All of these incidents seem like problems that could happen to anyone at any time. But they're all caused by moments of carelessness.
Think of your phone as a precious item. Keep it with you only when you need it. Put it in a dedicated bowl or dish when it's not in use, and never take it with you when you're planning to be near a body of water, including the bathroom.
You can also look at upgrading to a newer iPhone model. While Apple Toolbox reports that there are no fully waterproof iPhones, the X models and higher are water resistant. That means they can handle a quick drop into water without entirely malfunctioning, and they can also deal with a tiny splash of liquid from time to time. If you know you can't treat your phone with full reverence, this could help you avoid some costly mistakes.
Around 11 Percent of Smartphones Are Ruined by Water Each Year. (December 2016). iNews.
Check for Water Damage: Apple. Verizon.
iPhone Repair and Service. Apple.
New Study Shows Damaged iPhones Cost Americans $5.9 Billion. (September 2012). Square Trade.
Are the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, XS, or XR Waterproof? Apple ToolBox.