4th March 2024

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Technology and Computer

How to Save a Phone or Tablet Dropped in Water

Key Takeaways

  • To prevent potential damage, dry your phone as much as possible before turning it on again.
  • Look out for warning signs during use, and stop using your device until it’s completely dry.
  • You may need to take your phone or tablet to a service center for a thorough inspection.

If you’ve dropped your phone or tablet in water, don’t worry; your device might not be permanently damaged yet. But you should act fast to prevent the water from damaging internal components. Follow these simple tips to hopefully rescue your device.

Don’t Turn On a Wet Phone Right Away

person holding a Galaxy Z Flip 5 showing its shutdown menu
Hamlin Rozario/MakeUseOf

Water and electricity simply don’t get along; a wet device could short out and even give you an electric shock. Water can cause damage to the screen and seep into bezels, slots under the screen, and into the battery cavity. All of these situations can seriously damage your device if not appropriately handled.

So if your smartphone or tablet took a dive and turned off by itself, resist the urge to power it back on. If it’s still on, quickly power it off to prevent potential damage. Keep it switched off until you’ve fully dried it out.

Most Android devices can be switched off by long-pressing the power button and choosing Power off from the shutdown menu. To access the shutdown screen on a modern iPhone or iPad, press and hold the side button and one of the volume buttons simultaneously. If you own an older Apple device with a physical Home button, you just need to press and hold the side button.

An Android phone on a desk with its SIM tray next to it
Shan Abdul/MakeUseOf

After turning off your phone or tablet, first dry the outside as much as possible to prevent any more water from entering your device. Avoid using paper towels or other items that can leave behind residue.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. If your device has a removable battery, remove it from the compartment. Then, place it on a flat surface and gently pat it with a dry cloth to absorb moisture.
  2. Take out the SIM card and SD card (if in use), dry them with a lint-free cloth, and store them somewhere safe.
  3. Dry the battery, SIM card, and SD card slots (as applicable) with your lint-free cloth to soak up any remaining water. This prevents water from seeping inside and causing further damage.
  4. Wipe away any water droplets along the display edges. Examine screw holes, bezels, and the entire exterior of your phone or tablet to make sure it’s dry.
  5. Place your phone or tablet in a warm room or outside on a warm day. Avoid direct sunlight or intense heat, as these can be detrimental.
  6. Avoid using heat sources like hairdryers, as they may damage your device’s battery and other components; let it air-dry instead.

By following these tips, you can dry the exterior of your device in a matter of minutes. Hold off on turning it on for now, as some water may still be inside.

Remove the Residual Water That Might Have Swept Inside

The USB port, audio jacks, and speakers are vulnerable spots where water can easily seep in. If you overlook these spots, turning your phone or tablet back on with some water inside can cause damage.

Start by drying your smartphone’s USB port and audio jack, if applicable. Use a lint-free cloth to absorb moisture from the openings; refrain from blowing air into the holes or connecting a charger or headphones, as that may push water inward.

a smartphone covered in silica gel

We recommend silica gel to remove leftover water from speakers and elsewhere. It is a commonly used moisture remover that helps prevent wetness damage to electronics. Simply buy silica gel from your local store, place your device in an airtight or well-sealed container, and insert the silica gel packets or distribute loose beads evenly in the container.

It’s advisable to leave your device in silica gel for 24 to 48 hours. If you cannot wait this long, wait at least 12 hours, giving the gel sufficient time to absorb moisture. Avoid using a rice bowl to dry your device; it may do more harm than good. Also, avoid disassembling your phone to clean the water inside. Doing so may expose internal circuitry to water, leading to further damage.

After thoroughly drying your smartphone and ensuring all residual water has been drained, let it sit for a few hours. Finally, attempt to turn it on. If you successfully power it on, you’re all set. But if it fails to turn on, you’ll need expert assistance.

Take Your Phone or Tablet to a Service Center

If your phone or tablet doesn’t power on, or you’re hesitant to turn it on, take it to a nearby service center and have it inspected. If the hardware is not repairable, the only option is to replace it.

However, if it can be repaired, check if your device’s warranty covers water damage. More often than not, you’ll need to cover the entire cost yourself unless you pay for an extended warranty like AppleCare+ or Samsung Care+.

To preserve your warranty or insurance coverage, refrain from having your device repaired by local technicians. Always visit an official service center whenever possible.

Look Out for Issues While Using Your Phone or Tablet

If you’ve successfully turned on your device or restored its proper functionality following a professional inspection, keep a close eye on it for the next few days. If you observe signs of a water-damaged phone, such as a blurred display, screen patches, foggy camera, audio crackling, muffled speakers, or unstable charging, power it off and get it inspected again.

If you encounter warnings like “Liquid Detected in Lightning Connector” on iOS, “Moisture detected” on your Samsung device, or any other water-related alerts indicating the presence of moisture, water could still be inside. Refer to your device manufacturer’s website for guidance on handling that particular warning.

If these warnings persist even after attempting the suggested steps, seeking professional help is wise.

Following these tips will help protect your wet smartphone or tablet from irreversible water damage. To prevent a similar situation from repeating, adopt safer habits: avoid using your device near water sources, shield it from bathroom steam, refrain from using it while drinking water, and exercise caution in places where water damage is a potential risk.

Also, consider purchasing an insurance plan to minimize the cost of repairs and opt for a water-resistant device when upgrading in the future.