TOTW: what to do if your mobile phone gets dropped in water

By: John McGarvey

Date: 26 April 2013

Mobile phone dropped in waterSmart phone, meet glass of water / pint of Guinness / insert damp environment as applicable. Being dropped in water or another liquid is a common way for a mobile phone to meet its end.

Someone should probably tell that to the 75% of owners who use their expensive smart phone while on the toilet.

For this tip of the week (TOTW), we explain what to do if your mobile phone gets dropped in water.

Recovery is by no means guaranteed, but swift action can often save a smart phone from a watery grave.

1. Move fast and pop the battery out

Are your reactions good? Let's hope so, because the first crucial step to saving your mobile phone when it's been dropped in water is to fish it out and pop the battery off the back.

If the phone appears to still be functioning, don't try and turn it off first. Pressing buttons could let more water inside or fry the circuits.

Once it's powered down the chance of damage is lower, so the quicker you can do this the better. If your handset is an iPhone, or another model without a removable battery, you'll have to switch it off instead and hope for the best.

Whatever you do, don't be tempted to try and turn it on after a few minutes just to 'check if it's ok'. You could do irreversible damage.

2. Dry the water from your phone

Assuming you've already removed the battery, take out the SIM card and remove any other accessories, like memory cards or headphones.

Then grab some kitchen towel (or whatever you have to hand) and dry the outside of your mobile phone as thoroughly as possible. Your aim is to stop water leeching in through gaps in the case.

It can take real effort to remove all traces of water from handset keypads, headphone connections and so on.

You may be tempted to use a hairdryer, but don't. The air can actually push water further into your device. Instead, try using a vacuum cleaner to suck water from nooks and crannies.

3. Leave it to recover

Even if your mobile phone looks bone dry, there's likely to still be water where you can't see it. Before you take the risk of switching it back on, give it a decent chance to dry out.

A good option is to leave your handset in a bowl of rice for a few days. This may draw the moisture out for you. Alternatively, you can buy special bags to draw out any damp lurking in your smart phone.

The key here is to be patient. Don't leave your phone in an overly-warm place or be tempted to heat it up, as this may do more harm than good.

After a few days, check your handset and give it a good shake to see if any water droplets emerge. If there are no signs of damp, you can put it back together and risk turning it on. If you're lucky, it'll spring back to life. If not, you'll need to take a trip to a repair shop.

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