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How to fix a smartphone dropped in water

Loie Favre

So you’ve gone and done it, you’ve dropped your smartphone into the toilet or sink or pool or whichever body of water you are near to. After a moment of panic accompanied by some very bad words, you need to try and save your mobile device from being water damaged. Here are the steps to take if you have dropped your non-watertight phone into water and a few other tips and tricks.

androidpit dropped phone water
 © Black smartphone via Shutterstock

Remove the phone as quickly as possible from the water!

First off, here is what NOT to do:

  • Do not turn it on and actually use it in any way. This includes navigations, apps, and more.
  • Do not press on any buttons or keys.
  • Do not shake, tap or bang the phone.
  • Do not take the phone apart, this will completely void your warranty. It may be too late already though, because your device also comes with a Liquid Damage Indicator (LDI) which when activated could void your warranty. If you do need to take it apart, do this only if you have experience or bring it to a professional.
  • Do not try to blow on it. This could send water into other internal parts of the phone that the water hasn’t reached yet, causing more damage in the process.
  • Do not apply heat of any kind, including a blow dryer or sticking it in the microwave. Also, don’t to the opposite and stick it in the freezer.

What to do

1. Turn it off if it isn’t already.

2. Keep the phone in an upright position.

3. Remove the protective casing if you have one around it.

4. Take out the microSD and SIM cards from their slots.

5. Open up the back and remove the battery if you are able to. If you have an HTC, then this isn’t possible as the battery isn’t removable.

6. Take a cloth or paper towel to dab it dry, avoid spreading the water around as it could go to into some openings.

7. If the water damage is more extensive, you can use a vacuum to suck up water stuck in the cracks that is hard to get to.

8. Bury it in a ziplock bag full of uncooked rice. This may seem odd to you, but rice is great at absorbing liquid and this is actually a common practice for drying smartphones and tablets.

9. If you have a phone drying pouch use it! Perhaps you know that you have a tendency of doing such things and preemtively bought one. That was good thinking! If you want to purchase one, they are sold in most electronic stores or department stores.

androidpit dry phone pouch
If you have one of these at home, use it! You can buy these anywhere, this one is off of Amazon from a company named Save A Phone. © Amazon

10. Use another phone in the meantime and let it dry for a day or two. If you have a SIM card, maybe you have an old phone lying around to use or a loved one can lend you one for the time being.

11. Check for water before turning on after waiting 2 days.

12. Insert the battery again and turn on. Check the response to see if all is working as before. Play some music to check the speakers and touch screen response.

13. If your phone doesn't want to turn on at all, try charging the phone to see if this will work. If not, the battery may still be damaged. You might need to replace it or let it dry for longer. Or in worse case scenarios, your phone might be damaged.

14. Keep a close eye on your device for the next few days to see if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

15.If your phone still isn’t working, bring it into a smartphone repair shop to be checked by a professional.

In the future, avoid taking the phone with you to the pool, bathroom, while doing dishes etc.

androidpit waterproof phones
The Sony Xperia series, Samsung Galaxy XCover 2 and S4 Active are some examples of waterproof phones. © AndroidPIT / Sony

Hopefully these steps have helped your rescue your phone from an untimely drowning. You can also purchase a waterproof case, like Otterbox, Griffin Survivor and Catalyst. For some phones, you don't have to go through this entire process because they are made watertight and dust-proof, like Sony's Xperia series. These can go under water up to one meter deep for 30 minutes. Other waterproof smartphons are the Samsung Galaxy S4 Active, Motorola Defy+, Lenovo A660, Samsung Galaxy Xcover 2 and the HTC Butterfly.

androidpit otterbox drybox
Otterbox makes dryboxes for when you are at the beach or doing outdoor activities with your phone. © Otterbox

Do you have any other tips and tricks to suggest when it comes to saving a phone from water damage?

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  • Somercamb 10 months ago Link

    Interesting that you say DO NOT push any buttons and yet the first WHAT TO DO is "turn off the phone" which means pressing a button....

    • User picture
      Loie Favre 10 months ago Link

      In the best case situation, it's better to avoid pushing any buttons. However, turning off the phone is important as well...what people shouldn't do is go crazy and press buttons repeatedly to see if the phone works right when it's fished out of the water.