Wet phone: what to do if you drop your phone in water

11 March 2014

Dropping your phone in water is a pretty bad feeling, but what’s important is what you do next. The most crucial thing to do is keep calm, dry it off as quickly as possible and don’t turn it on under any circumstances . If it’s still on, turn it off immediately and leave it off.

Running an electrical charge through any wet electrical circuit is bound to cause problems, thanks to water’s famous conductivity sending charges between points on the circuit that can’t handle it. The good news is that just because an electrical device gets wet doesn’t mean it’s immediately destroyed. If you’re lucky, your phone could have been shut off before any major damage was caused. Wetting and off circuit is nowhere near as bad as wetting an active one.

If you manage to dry out your phone before switching it back on, then you may find that there is no damage at all or, more likely, that it still works but has gained a few annoying quirks.

How to dry out a phone

Drying out a phone is pretty easy, but it does take a couple of days. First, give the outside a good dry with a towel or tissue, if you can open up your device and remove the battery then do this and dry the inside too.

After you’re done towelling it off, fill a container with dry rice and bury the phone. Make sure it’s totally covered on every side and then place it on a window sill in the sun. This way, the dry rice will absorb the moisture out of the impossible-to-reach places of your phone and the sun’s heat will speed up the process.

Even in the summer this will take at least two days, but possibly three or more to complete. You want to make sure the inside of your phone is totally dry before you try to turn it back on again.

Getting repairs

Unfortunately, smartphone warranties don’t cover water or liquid damage, so you're up for the cost of repairs. Don’t think you’ll get away with just saying that it mysteriously died, either. Phones have built-in detectors that turn red if they’ve been subjected to any kind of liquid. Something as simple as a bit of rain making its way down your headphone jack can be enough to activate them. If you’ve dropped your phone in a puddle or sink then you’ve no chance of sneaking it by on warranty.

You may still be able to get your phone repaired, which is usually cheaper than buying a whole new phone. Head in to your carrier or a store run by your manufacturer and ask them about repairs. Be honest about what the problem is and you should be given a rough estimate on the spot as to repair costs, if repairs are even an option.

If you can’t repair it, sell it

If it costs too much to repair, or if it’s beyond hope, then you can sell it off to any one of dozens of online businesses that accept old, broken phones. Most of these companies don’t care if the phone is working or not; all they care about are the precious minerals used to build the phone itself. Believe it or not, smartphones are a very rich source of gold, palladium and other rare metals. There’s not enough in there to be worth your while, but you can sell it to someone for whom it is.

Just do a websearch for “sell my phone”, you can even use the manufacturer and phone name to get a more specific result. Make sure you shop around and don’t just go with the first website you find, there can be a big difference in how much you get for a broken device.

Don't just throw it out

Phones are incredibly bad for the environment if they're left out and allowed to seep in to the Earth. If you couldn't be bothered selling your phone, at least try to recycle it. A lot of phone vendors have recycle bins specifically for old handsets, we suggest using one of these.

Image credit: Flickr user failing_angel



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