Water and technology are not usually happy bedfellows, so suddenly seeing your unpleasant iPhone sink, bathe or fall into any other body or water can be a heartbreaking moment. However, do not panic, all will not be lost because modern phones are much more powerful than the phones of the past. In this article we explain the best strategies for dealing with a wet or water-damaged iPhone.
Is my iPhone waterproof?
If you’ve bought a new iPhone in the last few years, there’s a good chance it’ll be water-resistant, which means it should happily survive small dips and odd spilled drinks or two.
Smartphones and other electronic devices can be certified with something called Ingres Protection or IP rating. It instantly lets you know how water-resistant the product is, so you don’t have to be afraid if it slips out of your back pocket and falls into the Lu (it happens!) There are multiple IP ratings, but the two main ones applicable to the iPhone are IP67 and IP68.
Here’s what they mean:
- IP67 – Can survive submerged in 1 meter of water for a maximum of 30 minutes
- IP68 – Can survive submersion up to 2 meters for maximum 30 minutes
From the iPhone XS and XS Max, Apple typically releases devices with IP68 protection. Here’s the lineup of the last few generations:
- iPhone 6s and earlier: Not rated
- iPhone 7 / 7Plus: IP67
- iPhone 8/8 Plus: IP67
- iPhone X: IP67
- iPhone XR: IP67
- iPhone XS / XS Max: IP68
- iPhone 11 Range: IP68
- iPhone 12 Range: IP68
- iPhone 13 Range: IP68
- iPhone SE 2020: IP67
- iPhone SE 2022: IP67
Of course, things can still go wrong with an apparently waterproof iPhone. Following the incident or if there is any residual water in your device you need to follow the advice below.
What to do if the iPhone gets wet
- Get the iPhone out of the water now.
- Do not plug in iPhone. If it is already plugged in, unplug it (very carefully).
- Do not turn it on. This can lead to short circuits.
- If a wet iPhone is a case, take it out. Also remove the SIM card. Water can linger in these nooks and crannies.
- With a soft towel or cloth, wipe the liquid from everything that could reach you.
- Turn the iPhone over and give it a gentle shake to clean the ports and sockets.
- Turn off the iPhone – but read the following first …
Should You Turn Off A Wet iPhone?
In addition to the above we recommend that you turn off your iPhone. This will enable you to avoid activating circuits inside the iPhone, as this can lead to short circuits and long-term damage.
If the iPhone is already turned off, turn it off. Don’t be tempted to turn it on to see if it still works. It could be, and then it would immediately stop working forever because you saw it once.
If your iPhone is turned on, you’re looking at two unpleasant options: power down (but wake up briefly before shutting down the screen and operating system in the process) or leave the device in sleep mode and hope you don’t get any notifications.
This is your decision, but after discussion in the McWorld office here, we decided that the least of the two evils is to briefly wake up the iPhone to turn off the power completely.
If you’re lucky enough to be in airplane mode when you drop the device, or confident that your iPhone won’t wake up at all for the next 48 hours, leaving it alone may be a better option.
How to dry iPhone with uncooked rice
Now we need to draw as much internal fluid as possible. Avoid the temptation to use a hair dryer or other heat treatment, as it can damage the interior of the iPhone.
To get moisture from the inside of the iPhone, you need a desiccant. Many people swear by uncooked rice, advising owners to keep their damp iPad or iPhone in a large bowl (cover completely) and leave it there for 48 hours or more.
Rice will absorb moisture effectively and most of us have some uncooked rice (or can hold it fairly easily). However, it can get dust or even whole grains in the port. Will be warned.
We will discuss this method in more detail in our article: Recover a soaked iPhone with rice technique.
How to dry iPhone with silica gel
A better alternative than uncooked rice, if you drink it, is silica gel – that small (and Inedible) The packets you will find in the new handbags, packed with some electronic components, especially if they are shipped from a country with a humid climate and recently near the COVID-19 test kits (let’s see we have a lot of lies)!)
You need enough to cover the iPhone. You may be able to buy these together from a craft shop, but you can easily buy multipacks on Amazon. Silica gel sachets should dry a wet iPhone more efficiently and less randomly than rice, but you still need to give the iPhone at least 48 hours to dry completely.
Should you break your iPhone to dry it?
If you are really worried that there is liquid inside your iPhone and are confident about DIY repair, then there is always the option to open the device and dry it. iFixit is a great site that takes you through step-by-step repairs and lets you know how complicated they can be before you start.
Just keep in mind that it can void any warranty coverage you get and there is a risk of damaging your DIY work instead of repairing it.
Still: The most effective way to get water out of an iPhone is to get it inside and dry it from the inside.
If this is possible, it may be worth the cost of removing the battery (as this reduces the likelihood of a short circuit), but Apple can usually be quite challenging with the adhesive method for internal components. If you can, apply a soft dry cloth to all interior surfaces while trying to be as soft as possible.
To be honest, we wouldn’t recommend this method, primarily because of the potential for aggravation of the problem, but in some cases it may be the only way to save the day and at least recover some of your data. If nothing else works and you have no warranty, you may find yourself losing nothing.
How to get water out of iPhone speaker
There is one last thing you can try if you find that your device may have water in it. Although most iPhones are water-resistant, it doesn’t stop water from entering the speaker grills. Apple watches come with a built-in feature that can be toggled to ‘drain’ water by cleaning its speaker grills in the process, playing a certain frequency. It’s a mystery why iPhones don’t have the same options, but there’s a relatively easy way to get the same results with a free app called Sonic (not a tone generator, not a hedgehog).
Just download the app and tap on the water droplet icon in the middle of the screen. It has to ‘jump’ the water from the speaker so that you can absorb it with a tissue. A paid version also offers other frequency ranges, so if your music or podcasts sound a bit messy after the iPhone sinks, it’s a good idea to use.
What to do next
Okay, so you keep your iPhone in packets of rice or silica gel for a few days. What then? If you think the device has dried successfully, you can try turning it on. If that doesn’t work, you can try to return it to rice or silica and give it more time. If that doesn’t work, you’ll want to check it out internally. Book an appointment with an Apple genius to see if they can help recover the device.
One final caveat: iPhones may be temporarily restored, but then at a later date may suffer fluid loss, so we recommend that you back up all important files on the device if it is packed up again in the future. As we have said, its recovery can only be temporary – although we do not expect it. While this has become a terminal case, you can always browse the roundup of our best iPhone deals to see if you can find a bargain to replace it.