The level of damage water can cause to your phone depends on how waterproof it is. You can identify the waterproof rating of your smartphone by checking the IP number with a quick Google.
If your smartphone is waterproof, it will have an IP rating, formatted IP6X. The six usually means it is dust-resistant, while the second number (shown as an X here) dictates how long it can be submerged in water without causing irreparable damage.
Generally, you’ll find these levels of waterproof protection:
- IP66 - protects against powerful jets for at least three minutes
- IP67 - waterproof up to one metre of water for a maximum of 30 minutes
- IP68 - waterproof in one metre or more for 30 minutes. Maximum depth depends on the device
- IP69 - protects against hot, powerful water jets
While the IP rating indicates a level of waterproof protection, this doesn’t mean it’s absolutely guaranteed that your phone can survive submersion. As a general rule of thumb, if you don’t have to get your phone wet, then don’t.
However, if you’ve accidentally dropped your phone in water, here’s what you need to do.
What to do if you drop your phone in water
Remove as quickly as possible
We know this one’s sort of a given, but even if you dropped your phone down the toilet, try to fish it out as quickly as possible. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
Turn it off
Like we said earlier, water and electricity don’t mix. The longer your phone is switched on whilst wet, the higher chance it’ll be damaged. The best idea is to shut your phone off as soon as you remove it from the water.
Clean off certain liquids
If you dropped your phone in any corrosive or sticky liquid, like salt water or alcohol, you should try to wash this off before taking any further steps, as you won’t want these liquids to dry on your phone. Alcohol, like beer or wine, will leave a sticky residue, whilst salt water can corrode parts of your phone. Wash gently with a damp cloth.
Here’s some more advice on how to clean your phone properly and safely.
Remove parts you can
Once the phone is switched off, you can try to carefully remove certain parts to assess the damage / prevent further damage. If possible, remove:
Dry as much as possible
You can either use a lint-free towel to carefully dab and pat your phone dry, making sure to avoid pushing any water into crevices and cracks. Alternatively, you can use a vacuum cleaner to try to remove water from trickier places like the headphone jack and SIM card holder. Be careful not to suck anything up, though.
Wait before turning it back on
Now that you’ve dried your phone as much as possible, you’ve got to be patient and wait. This is to make sure it is fully dry, both on the outside and inside, before you attempt to turn it back on again.
The recommended time to wait is 24 - 36 hours, to avoid frying your circuit.
If it turns back on, hooray! You can count yourself lucky that it’s fixed and you escaped a watery fate.
If it doesn’t turn back on, or does but the screen is damaged, you might have to ask your manufacturer if there’s anything you can do - or look for a new phone.
A warning - even if your phone does turn on, it could still break after a few days, so keep monitoring it over the next week or so.
What not to do
- Don’t leave the device switched on or try to turn it on whilst still wet
- Don’t use tissues or abrasive towels as these could damage the screen or get lodged in the cracks
- Don’t shake your phone, as you could move water around inside
- Don’t use a hairdryer, as this is hot and won’t remove the water
- Don’t insert objects into the smaller cracks, like your headphone port or speakers, as you could damage them
- If your phone battery died, don’t put the phone on charge until it’s fully dry
The rice trick - does it work?
The rice trick has been around for years. The basic idea is that if you submerge your smartphone in uncooked rice, the rice will absorb the moisture inside your phone. Some people have done this and swear it works, while others dispute it as a myth.
A study organised by Craig Beinecke, co-founder of phone-saving company TekDry, showed that only 13% of trapped water escaped after a phone had been under rice for 48 hours, and that was probably just from the phone drying on its own. He suggested that leaving it to dry outside of the rice would be more successful.
But the rice trick is around for a reason. Rice absorbs water, so maybe it might absorb the water in your phone? It might work by fluke, but remember that most phone manufacturers suggest leaving your phone to dry on the counter is the best method.
Are you known for dropping your phone often, particularly around bodies of water? Give your smartphone a fighting chance by buying one of these waterproof phones.
To further protect your phone, consider picking up a waterproof case. The best waterproof cases will also have an IP rating and be made out of water-resistant materials. Many of them are also shock-resistant too, giving it extra protection from accidents.
There you have it, everything you need to know if you drop your phone in water. Try to keep your phone away from water where possible, but if it happens to fall in, hopefully these tips will bring it back to life.