November 29, 2016
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The world suddenly freezes when you see your phone falling straight into water. Whether it’s a pool or a toilet, you just know nothing good will come out of the next few seconds. After all, that’s a high tech device that’s likely worth multiple hundred dollars, and chances are very high that it will be deemed unusable. That is, unless you have one of those awesome waterproof smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge.

It’s true that more and more handset makers are moving towards waterproof designs in 2016, and this trend will likely increase in 2017. Still, not all of us have the luxury of a waterproof phone and that means we need to resort to other methods. The best method for preventing water damage is to take precautions beforehand, using something like the CaliCase waterproof pouch for situations where you know you might be making contact with water. But what if it’s already too late, and you phone took an unexpected dive into the water?

Let’s start by telling you that saving a water-damaged phone is pretty much a coin flip. Nothing can guarantee the device will actually be rescued. And if the gadget has already been harmed, there are high chances that damage is permanent. Regardless, often times the stars align and you end up saving that precious technology that holds all your important data and connects you to the world.

With the help of the following tips, we aim to increase the probability of your phone making it through such disaster. So let’s dig in.

Take it out of the water and make sure it’s off!

I know it’s hard to react quickly when such a devastating event takes place, but you must snap out of it! The longer your device stays underwater, the lower its chances of survival are. You must dig in there and take that phone out of the water right away. Yes… even if it’s in the toilet!

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Once the phone is out of the water, make sure it’s off and stays that way. Even if it seems fine… it is important to shut it off just in case. If the phone is still on, just shut it down or take the battery out if you can. Then put it in a safe place, preferably on a flat surface over some paper towels.

What not to do

The following actions can mean the difference between a totaled phone or a survival story. You better be careful what you do. Before we jump into finding a solution, let’s try to prevent major failures you could cause.

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  • Do not turn on the phone, as we already mentioned. Electrical components don’t play well with water when operating.
  • Don’t plug it in either! For the same reason.
  • Don’t press any keys. This can push water further into the phone. It’s best to try to mess with the phone as little as possible.
  • Don’t shake or blow into the device. This could also push water into deeper areas of the phone. Especially try to avoid blow driers – not only because of the blowing part, but also because of the following point.
  • Do not apply any heat to the phone. Remember excessive heat can also damage the phone. You don’t want to add more damage!
  • Don’t move the phone around too much. Same deal; you don’t want the water moving around inside the phone.

Disassemble the phone

And don’t mistake this step with “take the whole darn phone apart”! What I mean is that you should remove everything that is user-removable. If you back cover is removable, take it off. Similarly, try to remove the battery (if you can), SIM card and SD card. Lay it all out in the paper towel.

Now, if you are an experienced tech specialist of sorts and know the ins and outs of a phone, and don’t mind risking voiding your warranty, you can go ahead and take the whole phone apart too. It might help with drying up every single piece faster.

Oppo Find 7 Battery -1190592

Try to dry the exterior with a paper towel

We first have to try to get rid of all the excess water found in the exterior of your phone. Use the paper towel to dry out every component. Just make sure you don’t mess with the phone too much. Gently dry everything out without moving things around too much.

You could try a vacuum cleaner

Of course, there are areas the paper towel can’t access. And while we told you not to blow anything into the phone, we didn’t tell you not to suction the water out. In fact, a vacuum cleaner can suck off bits of water from the phone without too much risk. Just make sure the suctioning doesn’t make the phone move around excessively. Oh, and try not to use one as big as the one in the picture!

vacuum Shutterstock 

Time to dry it out

The hardest part is coming, because it involves leaving the phone untouched for an extended period of time. This means you can’t use your smartphone! If you have another phone you can borrow, just make sure the SIM card is completely dried out and stick it into the working handset. Otherwise, just resort to smoke signals, public phones and all that archaic stuff.

So how do you dry your phone out? You could just leave the phone on top of the counter or inside a drawer, but some people like giving it a little help. The idea is to put it in an environment that will ease its drying process. A very common practice is to put the phone in a Ziploc bag full of rice and let it rest there for about 2-3 days.

rice Shutterstock

But why rice? Mostly because it is something readily available at most homes. The idea is that rice is very good at absorbing humidity in the air, making the phone’s environment drier and hence helping dry out the device. But there are alternatives that could be better.

Among better options are silica gel packs, which are those little packets you often find in shoes or electronics boxes (and you can’t eat). It’s not like all of us have these laying around, though, but if you think ahead of time you, could get good deals on Amazon.

Buy silica gel packs from Amazon!

silica-gel Shutterstock

And while we are on the whole thinking ahead topic – you could also buy a water rescue kit. I happen to like Kensington’s EVAP bundle, which includes a special bag and silica gel packs. Kensington states this is 700% more effective at drying moisture than rice is, though it’s hard to say how true their claim is. Still, it might be worth the investment.

Buy Kensington EVAP water rescue kit!

The moment of truth

So you did everything you could and a few days have passed by. It’s time to see if all your efforts paid off. Take the phone out of wherever you left it and put it all together. Then plug the phone in and try to turn it on. If it works, you have succeeded! Stay on the lookout for any odd behavior, though. At least for a few days. Something may still happen. Also, test all the components. Make a call to see if the microphone and earphone work, test the speaker, etc.

Now, if the phone doesn’t work, it’s time to accept defeat and take it to a professional and see if it can be salvaged. You can also claim insurance if you have it.

HTC One M9 review aa battery

Conclusion

Not to sound like a doctor, but after this point we have really done everything we could. Sometimes you just have to let the phone go, guys. Hopefully most of you get it back up and working, though!

Hit the comments and tell us your experiences! Have any of you tried these methods? What other tips do you have for your fellow phone dunkers? Hit the comments and share your 2 cents!

Edgar Cervantes
Edgar Cervantes has over 5 years of experience in tech journalism. Exploring the latest gadgets and constantly studying the industry are part of is daily drive. Regardless of what he is working on, you can be sure he is always trying his best to bring you the best content. He will be dead honest and will bend to nothing.
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