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We have all done it or know someone who has dropped their cell phone in water! Type the words ‘cellphone’ and ‘water’ into any search engine and ‘rice’ is the solution that comes up most often. But does it really work? And, what if you have a smartphone, like the iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy?
Recently, Gazelle performed an experiment where they submerged four iPhones and 5 Galaxies to test which would fair better after being drowned. In addition, they also tested various methods for drying out the damaged phones, including a popular technique using rice. Their conclusions were a little more surprising than what you would guess. In addition to sorting out which smartphone likes to swim, Gazelle also created a ‘best practices’ approach to saving an electronic casualty of H2O.
Here is a brief overview of Gazelle’s Guide to Water Damaged Cellphones...
1. Remove It, Power Down and Make Way
The longer your phone stays underwater, the more likely it is to suffer a catastrophic failure. Get it out of there! Shutting the phone off protects it from short circuiting. Water can quickly fill an entire phone. Make a path for it to get out by opening or removing all obstructions.
- Remove the battery (if possible)
- Remove any headphones
- Remove the SIM card
- Remove the memory card
2. Wash It Out, Drain It and Open It Up
If your phone fell into salt water, dirty water, or something other than water, run it under clean tap water to flush out any residual salt, minerals and contaminants. Don’t worry, your phone was already full of water, so you’re not making it wetter – just cleaner. Then tilt it, shake it, blow air through it, or use a wet/dry vacuum cleaner to suck out the liquid. The best way to save your phone is to open the case so air can get in and water can get out. NOTE: You don’t have to worry about breaking your warranty, because that was null and void as soon as water hit the damage indicator.
3. Dry It-To speed up the drying process to help reduce the damage to your phone, you can try the following three options:
- Air it out: In dry climates, good air circulation may be all you need. A fan may improve airflow through the phone’s ports.
- Warm it up: If you can reliably warm it to 100-110 degrees Fahrenheit (but no more!) you will dramatically speed evaporation. Apple lists the maximum tolerable temperature as 113 degrees Fahrenheit, so be careful!
- Absorb it: If you are someplace that’s too humid for open-air drying, you may want to use a drying agent to soak up the moisture. Don’t bother with the “rice trick.” Gazelle tried it and uncooked white rice is the least effective for absorbing liquids. Instead they found that silica gel (also known as “crystal” style cat litter), instant couscous or instant rice will work better than conventional rice. However in all tests performed,Gazelle found that plain old open air worked best.
4. Test It- First, resist the urge to turn it on for a few days!
Your phone needs that time to dry any residual moisture that could be trapped in tight spots or absorbed into the circuit boards. Then, once it is dry and reassembled, it may turn right on. If not, try charging it, syncing it, swapping the battery. These methods did work in the experiment, where some of the iPhones came back after new batteries, and one of the dead iPhones could still sync, allowing for recovery of the data. Finally, keep your SIM and SD cards so that all is not totally lost.
Completely out of luck or ready to just retire your old phone? Gazelle buys used electronics for cash, even damaged ones! More than 600,000 consumers have used Gazelle to sell nearly one million gadgets. Gazelle offers trade ins for everything from smartphones to laptops to e-readers… the list goes on. So whether you have a soggy smartphone or a cracked Kindle, they’ll take it off of your hands, keep it out of the landfills and give you money in return.