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Phone covered in water

What to do when you’ve dropped your phone in water

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If you’ve recently dropped your phone in water, you’ll need to dry it immediately. Knowing how to properly dry your device can determine whether it survives or if you’ll need a completely new phone. 

In this article Canstar Blue explains what to do if you’ve dropped your phone in water.

What do I do if I’ve dropped my phone in water?

  1. Remove it from the water and turn off: Once you’ve retrieved your phone from the water, immediately turn it off.
  2. Remove parts to allow the phone to dry: Remove the case, and any SD or SIM cards. Leave these ports open to air dry.
  3. Drying the phone: Wipe the phone over with a cloth or a paper towel while being careful to not move water around inside the phone. Place the phone on top of a cloth or paper towel to dry, which will soak up excess moisture. 
  4. Wait for your phone to dry: Now, all you can do is wait and hope that your phone isn’t too damaged to function. It may take up to two days for the water to dry completely. Since it’s difficult to tell when it’s fully dry, it’s better to leave it for a longer period rather than trying to restart it too early.
  5. Check if your phone is working: Hopefully, after one or two days of drying, your phone will be back to normal. Keep an eye on it for any issues, and if new problems arise, consider getting it repaired or replaced.

What should I do if I dropped my phone in another liquid?

If you’ve dropped your phone in salt water, beer or other liquids, wipe the phone with a damp cloth. Yes, this means getting your phone wet again, but it’s necessary because salt water is corrosive and can damage your phone if not removed. Just be sure to dry it off immediately afterward.

What to avoid if you’ve dropped your phone in water

  • Avoid the ‘rice solution’. You might have heard putting your phone in rice is a solution to your water-damaged phone woes, however this isn’t a reliable way to fix most modern phones. The water inside will need to dry on its own. 
  • Instead, try using silica gel packets, like the ones that come with new products such as shoes, as they are much more effective. Fill a plastic zip-lock bag with silica gel packets and place your phone inside, making sure it is fully surrounded. Leave your phone in the bag for 24–48 hours.
  • Avoid using a fan or hairdryer to dry your phone. These methods won’t help and could potentially cause more damage to the internal components.
  • Avoid charging your phone, pressing any buttons, or inserting anything into it while it’s drying, as these actions can worsen the water damage.

Can a water-resistant phone be water damaged?

Yes, water-resistant phones can still be water damaged. While they are designed to withstand some exposure to water, they are not completely waterproof. Water resistance can diminish over time due to wear and tear. Exposing a water-resistant phone to conditions beyond its rated limits, such as high pressure or certain types of water like salt water, can cause damage. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and take care to prevent unnecessary exposure to water.

When you purchase a new phone, check for its Ingress Protection (IP) rating. This is a rating that classifies how well-protected your device is against water, moisture and dust.

One of the most common IP ratings for smartphones is IP68. This rating indicates a high level of resistance to dust (scale of 0 to 6) and water (scale of 0 to 9). A smartphone with an IP68 rating can be fully submerged in water, with devices rated 8 able to go deeper than those rated 7. For example, the iPhone 11 can be submerged up to two metres, while the iPhone 15 can go up to six metres. The rating of 9 pertains to resistance against hot, high-pressure streams rather than submersion.

IP ratings can vary from model to model, and some phones may not have an IP rating at all. Check the manufacturer’s website to see what conditions your phone can handle.

Is my SIM card water damaged?

If your SIM card is no longer working after your phone has been exposed to water, it may be water-damaged.

If you need a new SIM card, it might be a good time to shop for a new phone plan as well. Check out the table below for a snapshot of postpaid and prepaid plans from various providers. Alternatively, you can use our free phone comparison tool to find the best plan for you.

The following table shows a selection of sponsored SIM Only plans on Canstar Blue’s database with links to referral partners.

Is it safe to use a water damaged phone?

Even if  the phone stops working for a while, it should be safe to use and charge once it has completely dried out. However, if you notice any safety issues, such as the phone overheating, consider getting it repaired or replaced.

How long will a phone last after water damage?

The lifespan of a phone after water damage varies depending on factors like the extent of damage, type of water, phone model and immediate drying actions. Freshwater is less harmful than saltwater or chlorinated water. Newer models with higher water resistance are more likely to survive. Prompt and proper drying, such as using silica gel packets, can improve chances of recovery. 

However, internal corrosion can cause problems over time. Phones can last from a few days to years after water exposure, depending on the severity of the damage and the effectiveness of the drying process.

How can I tell if my phone is water damaged?

After following the steps above, only time will tell if your phone is too water-damaged to function properly. If it was just a small splash, you likely don’t have much to worry about. However, if your phone was fully submerged the damage might render your device unusable.. 

Phones with high IP ratings are typically able to handle harsh water conditions, so if your phone has a high IP rating, you’re probably fine. 

If your phone turns on, functions without any new issues, and works as normal, it should be fine to use as normal. However, if your phone isn’t turning on or has new glitches or problems, it’s time to consider getting it repaired or replaced.

To prevent water damage in the future, consider buying a water-resistant phone, using a waterproof phone case, or applying a protective screen cover. These simple measures can save you from future stress should you ever drop your phone in water again.

Caitlin Bingham
Content Producer
Caitlin Bingham is a seasoned Content Producer who specialises in internet and telco sectors. With a dual role at Canstar Blue and Gold in New Zealand, Caitlin's coverage spans a diverse spectrum, from electric vehicles to home loans, offering readers comprehensive insights into consumer-related topics. Holding a Bachelor of Communications with a major in Journalism from Massey University, Caitlin's educational background underscores her commitment to delivering high-quality, well-researched content. Prior to joining Canstar NZ, Caitlin honed her skills as a content writer for various reputable websites in New Zealand and Australia. She also served as the Distance Reporter for Massive Magazine, further showcasing her versatility and dedication to journalistic excellence. When she isn’t writing, you can find Caitlin training for (yet another) marathon, or binge-watching the Real Housewives.

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