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How to fix a water damaged phone

Authored by: Loie Favre — 4 months ago

So you dropped your smartphone into the toilet, sink or pool. But after a moment of panic you need to save your mobile from becoming water damaged. Here are the steps for how you can fix a phone that's been dropped in water.

Moto G video agua 2
Chances are you don't own a waterproof phone like the Moto G: here is how to fix a phone that has been dropped in water. / © ANDROIDPIT

Before you do anything else, remove the phone as quickly as possible from the water. The longer it stays there, the more water or liquid will trickle through the cracks and openings of your phone. After this point, there are certain things that you should definitely do and other things you should avoid when you've plucked it out.

What not to do

  • Do not turn it on if it was off or use it in any way.
  • Do not press on any buttons or keys.
  • Do not shake, tap or bang the phone.
  • Do not take the phone apart, this could void your warranty. Your device comes with a Liquid Damage Indicator (LDI) which when activated could void your warranty, this could be triggered when you open your phone. If you absolutely need to take it apart, do this only if you have experience.
  • Do not try to blow on it. This could send water into other internal parts of the phone which haven't been reached yet, causing more damage in the process.
  • Do not apply heat of any kind, including a blow dryer or microwaving it. Also, don’t do the opposite and stick it in the freezer.

11 steps to save your phone

1. Turn it off if it isn’t already and keep it in an upright position.

2. Remove the protective casing if you have one around it and take out the microSD and SIM cards from their slots.

3. Open up the back and remove the battery if you are able to. This won't be possible with certain models that have a battery that isn’t removable, like the HTC One (M8).

phone battery
Remove the microSD and SIM cards, as well as the battery. / © ANDROIDPIT

4. Take a cloth or paper towel to delicately dab it dry. You want to avoid spreading the liquid around as it could go to into the phone's openings.

5. If the water damage is more extensive, you can use a vacuum to carefully suck out water stuck within the cracks that are harder to get at.

6. Bury it in a ziplock bag full of uncooked rice. This may seem odd to you, but rice is great at absorbing liquid and is actually a common practice for drying smartphones and tablets. I've tried it before and it works.

7. If you have a phone drying pouch, use it! If you know your rather clumsy, you might want to think of preemptively buying one. They are sold in most electronic or department stores.

androidpit save a phone
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. / © Save A Phone

8. Use another phone in the meantime and let it dry for a day or two. If you have a SIM card, you might want to use an old phone that lying around or as a friend or family if they have one available. 

9. After one or two days, you can insert the battery and turn on. At this point you want to see if everything is working as it should be. Try playing some music to check the speakers and test out touch screen responsiveness.

10. 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. In worse case scenarios, your phone might be damaged beyond repair. You can try bringing your smartphone to a repair shop to be checked by a professional.

11. If your phone has turned on and it is running as it should, you still want to keep a close eye on it for the next few days to see if you notice anything out of the ordinary.

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

motog2014underwater
Some phones, like the Moto G (2014), Moto X (2014), Xperia Z3, Xperia Z3 Compact and Samsung Galaxy S5 Active are water resistant./ © ANDROIDPIT

Water resistant phones and cases

Hopefully these steps have helped your rescue your phone from an untimely drowning. You can also purchase a waterproof case, some good brands are Otterbox, Griffin Survivor and Catalyst.

androidpit otterbox drybox
Otterbox makes dryboxes for when you want to protect your phone during trips to the beach or when doing outdoor activities. © Otterbox

Many phones are made watertight and dust-proof, like the Sony Xperia Z3. These can go under water up to one meter deep for 30 minutes. Other manufacturers also make water resistant phones, like Samsung with the Galaxy S5 Active and Motorola with the second generation Moto G and Moto X. Even the Nexus 6 is water resistant.

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

Loie Favre found her way to her present passion for Android and smartphone technology after experiencing an epiphany when she held her Galaxy Note 2. From that point onwards, you can find her with her nose buried in countless Android apps and different smartphone models, and thanking her lucky stars that she gets to work at something she loves.

15 comments

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  • vismit magotra 3 days ago Link to comment

    Dropped my Samsung Note 2 yesterday into the water.. I tried to switchoff my phone by pressing the button,. Meanwhile screen showed like empty battery sign and it turnoff automatically. I removed the battery and placed it over my table. Next morning i put my phone into my car dashboard and i placed my car in the sun heat.. Because the temperature is high these a days and inside the car it is like almost 48-50 DigCel.

    I will try to turn on my phone at the evening,. Let's see if it works..

  • Kay Kraw 4 days ago Link to comment

    I dropped my Samsung Galaxy S3 mini (out of contract now) into a full mug of hot coffee (totally submerged). I immediately pulled it out. Dried the outside first with clean paper towel. Removed the outside holster case, the back panel of the phone, the battery and the SIM card and dried all of those carefully with paper towel. I dried the exposed phone as well. Then I let everything sit for about a half hour (finishing getting ready to go to work). Put it back together, turned it on and it booted up but kept saying "Sim card removed...Unable to read Sim card...Your device will restart" with a white bar below with "Restart" printed in it. I hit the restart prompt and it restarted. Well, again, after a few seconds gazing at the home screen the "Restart" thing kept showing up. I asked some coworkers (younger than me) what to do and they said to buy a bag of rice. A grocery store was next door so I bought a bag of rice and placed the phone with the back and battery removed (left the SIM card in this time in case it needed more drying off) and left it in the rest of the work day. When I got home, I removed it from the rice and put it back together again. Same thing happened with the restart, but it wouldn't show
    up as quick as before.
    Long story short it is now exactly two weeks later and the phone works as it used to except that the lighted "menu" and "back/return" buttons on the bottom are the only things that still do not work. So I just went under settings to "Accessibility" and scrolled down to the "Dexterity" section and clicked "ON" the Assistant menu. After you click that, a little white square box pops up with 4 smaller light gray squares inside of it. When you click on that, you'll immediately see four functions to choose from. The home and settings are permanent, you cannot move them from the basic screen but you can add 2 or more functions (there are 13 more to choose from). I really just needed the menu and back/return functions but you can add any or all of what are shown. The home function takes you back to your home screen but the settings function is for this "Edit" section of Assistant Menu" in case you ever want to change the functions you want to use here.
    To customize the small white box with your own function choices just touch the "Settings" function shown in the white box. You will then see "Dominant hand" and "Edit". When you "touch" Dominant hand, you make your choice. That takes you back to the same screen where now you would "touch" Edit - Reorder or remove menu. Now a large screen appears with 13 more functions to choose from. Press and hold on one of them until it turns light gray then move it up to the upper box. You will notice that you cannot remove the home and settings icons.
    The square white box will now be on any screen you work on. It can be annoying in that it shows up and blocks you from seeing a vital portion of your viewing screen, but all you have to do then is just touch it and move it where it will be out of your way.

    In short I was hoping my phone would eventually work, again. For me it was worth waiting two weeks because the main feature I love about this phone is the "mini" of it. I like it smaller because I clip it to my belt/waist which is very convenient for the type of work I do all day. My phone is 3 years old and the original battery lasts two days without recharging, probably because I rarely have my Mobile Data turned on. I only use the internet to check UPS orders twice a week. If I could, I'd keep this phone until I die.

  • Gary Brunt 2 months ago Link to comment

    Believe me the Nexus 6 is not waterproof. Dropped my down the toilet 2 weeks ago, had it in rice etc. Now dead as a do do!!!!

  • Kelly Basden 2 months ago Link to comment

    Grammar issues.

  • Michael Latimer 4 months ago Link to comment

    The problem with rice is that it can't tell you when it's finished drying the device. People get antsy and try to charge/turn the phone on before it's fully dry and in so doing ruin the phone. Plus the rice dust isn't good for the phone.

  • Michael Latimer 4 months ago Link to comment

    If you happen to be in the United States, find a local store with a Redux machine. (Redux.com) This machine is amazing. Steps 9 and 10 in this article are the steps that actually can damage a wet phone beyond repair. Just getting your phone wet doesn't kill it...running power through a wet phone kills it.

  • Moni Mihailov 4 months ago Link to comment

    When my S3 Mini gor wet what i did was i just took the back of and held it in front of the heater for around 10 mins and then it was 50 degrees Celsius so i waited for it to cool down and everything was working fine after that :)

  • Anon Ymous 4 months ago Link to comment

    I dropped my Motorola Moto G (2015 model) in the toilet the other day and it stopped working...

    I basically did the majority of what was suggested NOT to do, including the following, in my panic following the incident:
    -Do not turn it on if it was off or use it in any way.
    -Do not press on any buttons or keys.
    -Do not shake, tap or bang the phone.
    -Do not take the phone apart, this could void your warranty. If you absolutely need to take it apart, do this only if you have experience.
    -Do not try to blow on it. This could send water into other internal parts of the phone which haven't been reached yet, causing more damage in the process.
    -Do not apply heat of any kind, including a blow dryer or microwaving it. Also, don’t do the opposite and stick it in the freezer.

    I did do the majority of the recommended things though too...

    What should I do? I only got it a couple of weeks ago...

    • Odbayar Tumendemberek 1 month ago Link to comment

      I've also dropped my phone (moto G) into water yesterday. Unfortunately, I turned it off, shook it and blew inside to dry out. It was working yesterday, but it is not working this morning. I put it into silica gel and planning to wait 1-2 days according to the recommendation. I am worried... What should I do?

  • Feranmi Aderonmu 5 months ago Link to comment

    happy to find out about this.Hope it will still work for my phone that dropped into water like 8 hours before i buried it in a bag full of uncooked rice.

  • Rogue Tomato 6 months ago Link to comment

    Rice really does work. It saved a very old Blackberry my daughter dropped in the cat's water dish. I had to hack the little cursor trackball which was ruined, but the phone worked.

  • Somercamb Feb 5, 2014 Link to comment

    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....

    • Loie Favre
      • Admin
      • Staff
      Feb 5, 2014 Link to comment

      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.