What to do with a Wet iPhone

wet iphoneWe all know that cell phones and water don’t mix. So imagine my concern when, on a business trip, I managed to drop my iPhone neatly into a glass of water.

How do cell phone companies know you got your phone wet?

Most cell phones have a water detection sticker on the inside. Once wet, these stickers turn bright red, and stay that way.


In the case of an iPhone, it’s not easy to just “take off the back cover” and inspect such a sticker. While my phone was dripping water, however, I noticed a nice red light shining right next to the ear piece speaker. While I’ve never seen any official documentation of this red light being a sign of water damage, I did learn that the iPhone is equipped with a moisture sensor just inside the headphone jack. Like the water detection stickers on other phones, this sensor will turn bright red, to betray the abuse of the iPhone owner!

Can you dry out a wet iPhone?

Obviously, you don’t want to apply heat or risk burning out any circuitry. I did a quick google search that recommended using rice to pull the moisture from the phone. I rushed to the store, and soon my iPhone was nestled in a nice fluffy bed of rice.

A slow recovery

The first few days after “the incident”, I was afraid to plug in my iPhone. Eventually, however, I plugged it into my computer, and at first, the battery didn’t seem to want to hold a charge. There are companies that will swap out an iPhone battery. Yes, that would invalidate the warranty, but I knew I was beyond that.

I had already spent plenty of time deliberating over the purchase of my phone, and I wasn’t anxious to spend much money to fix it. So I kept it in its rice bag, and hoped for the best.

snap crackle pop with phoneA few days later, I tried the phone again, and the battery seemed to hold fine. The phone would turn on, but the screen seemed to still have some moisture beneath it. Back into the bag.

A few MORE days in the rice bag, and the phone turned on, and the screen was fine. Well, it looked fine, but it didn’t seem to respond to touch. Ahh! I consoled myself that the phone was slowly healing itself, swapped the bag out with some new rice, and kept hoping for the best.

R.I.P. iPhone.. or not?

Finally, a month after the “incident”, I called AT&T and asked them to switch me over to a “normal” cell phone plan. I was happy to get back MMS, but very disappointed I had only had a few months with my iPhone. As I tried to decide what to do with the brick, I tried it one last time. Lo and behold, the screen responded!

In true cell phone provider fashion, I called them back to swap back to the plan I’d just changed, and was told I had to go into a store to do so. While there, the new sales person tried to sell me the appleCare extended warranty, and I had to educate HIM on the moisture sensor and the warranty (hmm, in retrospect, perhaps I shouldn’t have!).

Good as new? Unfortunately not

As much as I would like to say my iPhone is as good as new, it’s not. Every few weeks, if it is particularly cold, the screen stops responding. I keep the good old rice bag nearby, and often a few hours in the bag fixes things. Occasionally I have had to reboot the phone to get it to respond, and on occasion (but not consistently), the screen does not respond if the phone is plugged in.


A dried iPhone is better than a brick, and I’m glad I got it working again. Certainly dropping a phone into a glass of water is outside normal wear-and-tear, but it’s disappointing that a device that people have on them all the time can be so fragile.

4 thoughts on “What to do with a Wet iPhone

  • I am 2 for 3 on reviving wet phones by wrapping them in a towel and throwing them in the dryer.

  • It might take a while to get enough of them, but you know those little dessicant packs marked “Do not eat” that come in shoe boxes and other packages that are meant to stay dry? Try saving those in a resealable plastic container instead of the rice. I’ll bet they’ll draw the water out better than the rice.

  • Great idea! I actually threw a few of those in the bag as well, but it would be a good idea to only use them — for one thing, it would prevent the little rice kernels from getting lodged in crevices..

Comments are closed.