So you dropped your iPhone in water. Unfortunately, it happens to the best of us. When I worked in an Apple Store we’d see people with the same problem every day, ranging from saltwater to toilet water. It’s never good, but it might not be too late to avoid water damage to your iPhone.
The very first thing to do is carefully remove your iPhone from the water and turn it off.
Now leave it turned off!
This is the hardest thing I’ll ask of you. Resist the temptation to check if your iPhone still works, and leave it powered off. The second you touch one of those buttons you’re likely to cause more damage, so don’t do it.
With that out of the way, let’s get into what you should do next.
- 1 What to do if you drop your iPhone in water
- 2 How do I know when my iPhone is dry?
- 3 Should I use rice to dry my iPhone?
- 4 What happens when an iPhone is dropped in water?
- 5 Is my iPhone waterproof?
- 6 How do I tell if my iPhone is water damaged?
- 7 How do I fix a water damaged iPhone?
- What to know before taking an Apple device to a third-party repair shop
- How to transfer an AppleCare+ plan to a new device
- Why your iPhone or iPad battery percentage jumps around
- Are the iPhone 8 and iPhone X, XS, or XR waterproof?
What to do if you drop your iPhone in water
It’s all too easy to get your iPhone wet. But it doesn’t matter if you got caught in a heavy downpour or dropped your device to the bottom of a lake…our advice is the same. Even for water-resistant iPhones.
1. Turn it off immediately
We already said this, but it’s worth repeating. Turn your iPhone off as soon as you get it out of the water. Press and hold the Side button with the Volume Up button, then slide to power off.
And once it’s turned off, do not turn it back on.
2. Take your iPhone out of the case
If your iPhone is in a case, water might have gotten trapped when you dropped it. Remove the case and any other accessories from your iPhone, including your screen protector.
Dry off your bare iPhone by wiping it with a lint-free cloth. You want to absorb the liquid on the outside of your device without leaving it covered in material fibers. If you don’t have a lint-free cloth to hand, a t-shirt usually does the trick.
3. Ease liquid out of the ports
Don’t stick anything in the lightning or headphone ports. Tilt your iPhone so the port faces down and gently tap it to encourage liquid to drip out. Do this for the speakers as well. Your iPhone should feel completely dry on the outside when you’re finished.
4. Remove your SIM card
Your iPhone might appear dry, but there’s probably still liquid inside it. Use a SIM tool, a straightened paperclip, or a pin to eject the SIM tray on the side of your device.
Remove the SIM card and carefully dry it off. Now store it somewhere safe. Leave the SIM tray out of your iPhone to create a vent, which helps the liquid inside to evaporate.
5. Wait for your iPhone to dry
Wait 24–48 hours for your iPhone to dry. And don’t stick it in a bag of rice. Find a flat, open space to leave your iPhone instead.
The space should be well ventilated and dry, like a windowsill or a bookshelf. If you want, you can try to speed up the process by placing silica gel packs around your iPhone or putting it under a cool fan. Don’t use a hairdryer or a radiator.
Wait as long as possible without using your iPhone. Do not turn your iPhone on during this time. If you use your device while the components are still wet, you could cause irreparable damage.
Only when you’re confident your iPhone is dry should you turn it on again.
How do I know when my iPhone is dry?
This is the million-dollar question. Unfortunately, without prying your iPhone open, it’s impossible to know if the liquid inside has evaporated or not. All you can do is wait as long as possible, then take a leap of faith and start using it again.
If it turns on, the first thing you should do is make a backup. You never know if a water damaged iPhone is going to stop working two weeks down the line. For added certainty, you should look into getting a repair or a replacement.
Should I use rice to dry my iPhone?
“If you drop your iPhone in water, stick it in some uncooked rice to dry it out.” We’ve all heard this advice before, but it isn’t true.
It’s not hard to understand the logic: rice absorbs water, so it should draw out and absorb the water from your iPhone. In fact, the advice was around long before iPhones were invented, as rice was suggested to protect film stock from humid environments.
But that doesn’t make it any less of a myth.
Rice is less effective at drying your device than just leaving it in an open, well-ventilated space. Not only that, but you run the risk of getting grains jammed in your iPhone ports. Trust me, it happens, and it can break your iPhone.
Chances are, whenever you hear a successful rice story, that person’s device would have been fine if they left it alone anyway. In fact, it would have dried out faster if they avoided the rice.
Ignore the stories and keep your iPhone in the open.
What happens when an iPhone is dropped in water?
If you’re anything like me, you don’t have an excellent understanding of electricity. But essentially, there are three major things you need to worry about if you drop your iPhone in water.
First, the battery could short circuit. This is potentially quite dangerous as it can cause the battery to heat up, swell, or burst. But even if nothing as dramatic (and unlikely) as that happens, your battery life is probably going to take a hit.
The second thing to worry about with a wet iPhone is corrosion on your internal components. This actually comes from the variety of minerals and chemicals in most water sources reacting to the electrical current. The reactions reduce the conductance of your components until they stop working.
And finally, you should worry about what happens to those minerals when the water evaporates. This is why salt water is so bad your iPhone, because the water leaves salt deposits on your internal components. That salt has extremely high conductance and short circuits the components.
Is my iPhone waterproof?
There are no waterproof iPhones. But there are water resistant ones.
Since the iPhone 7, all new iPhones have had a water resistance rating of at least IP67. That means they should survive at a depth of one meter for up to 30 minutes. The iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max even have a rating of IP68, taking them down to two meters.
However, the water-resistant elements of your iPhone degrade over time. That means a three-year-old iPhone 7 isn’t as water resistant as it used to be.
Not only that, but the chemicals and minerals in water sources can damage or rust the outside of your iPhone.
You should always try to avoid getting liquid on your electronics.
What’s the difference between waterproof and water resistant?
A waterproof device is designed to work underwater. It should be fully sealed to keep water out. A water-resistant device is designed to protect against accidental spills and splashes. You should still avoid liquid whenever possible.
How do I tell if my iPhone is water damaged?
Water damage can be an invisible killer of iPhones. Generally speaking, it can cause any number of erratic or unusual behaviors: poor battery life, unresponsive touchscreen, or blurred photos to name just a few.
What’s more, this strange behavior might take weeks or even months to arise. Corrosion on the internal components of your iPhone continues to develop long after you dropped it in water. You might think your iPhone is fine only for it to die a few months down the line.
How does Apple know if I dropped my iPhone in water?
If you take your iPhone to the Genius Bar for a repair, they can find out if it has been water damaged. They do this by looking for a number of different signs.
A liquid contact indicator (LCI) in the SIM tray or headphone port on your device turns red when it gets wet. You can check this yourself, but there’s another one on the inside of your iPhone that you need to open the device to find.
Upon opening your device, there are usually other signs of liquid damage as well. This could range from mineral deposits, to corrosion, to a puddle of water still present on the inside (I’ve seen this happen more than once).
Rest assured, if your iPhone is water damaged the Apple Geniuses will find out about it.
How do I fix a water damaged iPhone?
Drying your iPhone and hoping for the best isn’t the only course of action you can take after dropping it in water. You could also look into getting a repair or, in Apple’s case, a replacement device.
But first, if you dropped your iPhone in the toilet, please clean it and let someone know before you hand it over to them!
Take it to Apple
Apple doesn’t repair water damaged iPhones. This is because they can’t guarantee they fixed it without replacing every single component. So they offer a replacement device instead.
Apple’s warranty doesn’t cover liquid damage, even for water-resistant iPhones. So, unless you have AppleCare+, you need to pay for an “Out of Warranty” replacement device.
This is usually quite expensive, but it doesn’t cost as much as a new iPhone off the shelf.
Take it to a third-party repair shop
Alternatively, you could look for a third-party iPhone repair shop offering water damage repairs. There is still no guarantee they can fix your device, but many repair shops operate on a “No Fix, No Fee” principle.
Even if the repair shop can’t fix your iPhone, they may have an option to help you recover data.
Attempt a DIY repair
If you’re feeling pretty handy, you might consider a DIY repair on your water damaged iPhone. You should only consider this if you have no other option — since it isn’t easy and can easily do more damage to your device.
Follow the comprehensive guide on iFixit to attempt a DIY repair on your water damaged iPhone. You need to buy several specialist tools, as well as some 90% isopropyl alcohol to soak your damaged components in.
That’s just about all there is to say about the wet iPhones. Now you know what to do if you drop your iPhone in water. Let us know what happened in the comments — it might ease the pain to share your story. And tell us what tips you used on your device.
We’ve crossed our fingers for you!
Dan is a freelance writer based in South West England.
He spent two years supervising repairs as a Genius Admin for Apple Retail and uses that knowledge to keep our troubleshooting guides up to date.
Long before that, Dan turned to Apple products from a musical background. Having owned iPods for years, he bought a MacBook to learn sound recording and production. It was using those skills that he gained a first-class Bachelor of Science in Sound Technology.