Imagine the scene: you have just bought a new phone, and you are out with your family or friends taking pictures on the snazzy new camera. Suddenly, the phone slips, and you drop it into a puddle, a drink, or maybe even a body of water. Your stomach drops as you remember you chose not to pay the extra bit on your contract for insurance. It would seem that all is lost, phone-wise.
But fear not! There are plenty of things you can do if your phone gets wet or falls into water. Some methods may be more effective than others depending on your phone and how wet it is, and some phones are too wet to save. But it is always worth a try!
So how do you get water out of your phone? And what steps can you take to ensure the damage is limited if your phone does end up falling out of your hand and into liquid?
We are going to take you through some step-by-step guides on what to do if your phone gets wet and what you can do to prevent water damage to your phone.
If you drop your phone into water or if it gets wet in the rain, turn it off straight away and remove any components you can (not all phones have removable batteries, but you should still take out the sim card and memory card). You must then dry the phone's exterior and leave it to dry for at least 48 hours.
Read on for our step-by-step guide on what to do if you drop your phone in freshwater and then what to do if you drop your phone in salty water.
If your phone gets wet in the rain or if you drop it into a lake, puddle, river, or any other freshwater, follow these steps to ensure you give it the best possible chance of working again.
- If you get fresh (non-salty) water on or in your phone, turn it off immediately. If it is charging, unplug the charger from the wall and the phone as soon as it gets wet. If electricity runs through your phone when water is in it, it could short the circuit, which would probably break your phone completely. So even if your phone is working after being in the water, turn it off for at least 48 hours.
- Remove everything you can. If your phone is in a case or has a cover, take it out. Remove the memory card, battery and sim card if you can. Don't replace any of these components for at least 48 hours.
- Dry the phone's exterior. If you have a microfibre cloth, such as a phone or glasses cleaner, use this. If not, use a clean, dry cloth or paper towel. Make sure whatever you use is made of smooth material that won't scratch or damage your phone. Pay close attention when drying the charging port, phone speaker, and headphone jack, and dab the cloth into them if water is stuck there. Make sure you do this as smoothly as you can and don't shake your phone around, as doing so can lead to more water running into the phone's interior and damaging the inner system.
- Dry the removed parts. Once you have dried the phone's exterior, return any parts you could remove (sim card, memory card, battery, etc.), and dab them dry with the cloth.
- Let the phone dry. You must now play the waiting game and leave your phone to dry for 48 hours. Lay the phone on a clean, dry cloth (not the one you have just used) in a well-ventilated area. You can put it next to a fan or leave it beside a dehumidifier or an open window for extra measure. Just be careful, if it is by a window, that it isn't going to get wet if it rains.
- Use silica to help the drying process. Silica gel packets are designed to absorb moisture. They are the little packets you get in shoe boxes, but you can also buy them separately online. So, if you have any to hand, place them underneath and on top of your phone while it air dries. People often recommend leaving your phone in uncooked rice to absorb the water. However, this can scratch and damage your phone and get dust trapped in the ports. Letting your phone air dry is by far the more effective of the two methods.
- Turn your phone back on. Once you have waited for the full 48 hours of drying time, you can replace all the components of your phone you removed and turn it back on. Hopefully, it should work! If the phone doesn't turn on or is noticeably slower or malfunctioning, you may need to sack it off and buy a new one. If water is trapped in the screen, it will be instantly noticeable, and you may have to replace the screen (which is cheaper than replacing the entire phone). If the phone looks normal and operates, you have successfully fixed it. Well done!
Salt water is more corrosive than freshwater, and it can damage your phone a lot quicker than freshwater. When the salt dries and crystallises, it can cause lasting damage to the internal components of the phone. The same is also true for sugary drinks.
So here is what you do if you drop your phone in salty water or a sugary drink.
- Turn the phone off and dismantle it as much as possible. As with the first steps in our freshwater fix, the most important thing is to stop the power running through your phone - remove the charger if it is charging - and take it apart.
- You should then lightly rinse the phone with freshwater and baking soda. If you don't have baking soda, use freshwater. The aim here is to remove the salt from the phone because once it has dried and crystallised, it can permanently damage your phone. If salt water reaches the phone's internal components, it is likely unsalvageable.
- You should then follow the earlier steps we outlined for drying your phone after dropping it in fresh water.
- Back up your phone. If the phone then returns to working order, back up all the files and messages you want to save on your phone. Because salt may be in the phone, you may find that the phone begins to malfunction after initially working again.
If you don't trust yourself to perform the fixes, or you are convinced the phone got too wet for a home fix to work, you can always take it to a professional phone repair store.
Here, they will use a special mini vacuum cleaner and heating device to remove the moisture from your phone as quickly and efficiently as possible.
If you do opt for a professional fix, you still need to turn the phone off straight away and dismantle it as much as possible. You then need to take it to the shop as soon as possible to ensure the best chance of a repair.
There is also no guarantee that they will be able to fix it for you, some phones are too water-logged to be repaired, and you will still be charged.
Some accidents are completely unforeseeable, and there is nothing you can do to stop them. However, you can take steps to ensure your phone is kept safe in the event of such an accident.
- Get a waterproof phone case. You can get a waterproof phone case for just a few pounds, and it can end up saving you hundreds on buying a new phone. This is a particularly good idea if you are going somewhere like a beach, swimming lake, or waterpark, and you plan on taking lots of photos.
- Get a waterproof phone. If you want to buy a new phone or are due an upgrade, you might consider buying a waterproof one. Plenty of new phones are waterproof now, and they perform all the same functions as regular phones and look just as good as well!
- Get a phone tether. A phone tether is essentially a neck chain that prevents your phone from falling if you drop it. You wear it around your neck, and your phone is attached at the bottom. Again, this is a good idea if you're going somewhere you want to use your phone, but dropping it would be a disaster.
- Get phone insurance. If you have bought a particularly expensive phone that you want to keep safe against all possible accidents, your best option may be to buy phone insurance. Phone insurance can usually be added to your phone contract for just a few extra pounds a month, or it can be bought separately. Either way, it is a small price to pay to keep your phone safe, especially if it is a new expensive model.
Dropping your phone in water is a situation that many people are all too familiar with. There's the split-second moment in which both your heart and phone sink before you dunk your hand into the water and rescue the handset, and then the ensuing minutes, hours, and days in which you hope that all is not lost and your phone will work once more.
Follow our step-by-step guides to make sure your phone stands the best chance of surviving a quick dip and so that you can be prepared for such an unfortunate and watery mishap.