How to prevent water damaging your smartphone

How to prevent water damaging your smartphone. Forget about the bag of rice myth!

Prevent and fix your phone from water damage

As a former electronics repair technician in the UK I’ve encountered hundreds of smartphones, iPods and Play Stations that were either dropped in water or any other liquid that can cause corrosion. Despite the fact that some devices may still function even after it has been been dropped in water, over time it will show signs of overheating. Overheating is one of the first symptoms that should tell you that the device is not functioning properly. Dropping your smartphone in a pool, toilet or a sink full of water is not the only way your smartphone can get water damaged.

4 things you can do to to prevent water damaging your smartphone

1. Talking on the phone on a rainy day

UK is famous for it’s autumn like weather. Talking on the phone in the rain will allow water to easily infiltrate in your device through the charger port (if it is not covered) or the headphone jack. I know what you think, a little rain won’t hurt and you are correct, but if you expose your smartphone in the rain on a daily basis, be sure that after a while, water will corrode the internal parts of your device.

2. Answering a call with wet hands

Did it ever happened to you while washing dishes to hear the phone ringing? Sometimes you don’t dry your hands completely before answering the phone, especially if it’s and important call. This can easily lead to water damage your smartphone.

3. Having your phone in the bathroom while taking a shower or a bath

You like playing music in the shower? If you take the phone in the bathroom with you when showering or bathing then expect to wipe the water of the screen just like you wipe it of the mirror. Steam is water in vapour form. Your phone will absorb water from the air and eventually show signs of malfunction.

4. Sweating

Although not very common but it is possible. Imagine it’s 40° Celsius outside, phone in your pocket, slim fit jeans … you get my point.

How to fix your smartphone from water damage

iPhone in rice

There are many videos and articles on the internet saying that “If you put your phone inside a bag of rice, it will absorb the moisture“. Does rice fix your smartphone from water damage? The answer is NO. Erase this idea and lets get serious. Placing your phone in a bag of rice and waiting for it to fix your phone is like putting a bandage on a broken screen and hoping it will heal itself like your body does with a wound. Not only it wont fix your phone but rice can easily slip in the headphone jack port and you might not be able to get it out.

Here is a real solution for fixing water damaged phones


First of all, if you have no experience with disassembling phones or do not have the required tools, then I suggest taking your device to a local repair shop and see if they can help you. However there are tons of videos on YouTube that can guide you on how to disassemble your phone and since your phone is already dead you can give it a try. I am not responsible for anyone’s actions or further damages of their device. This is just an informational article in which I share my personal experience.

You will need:

  • Philip screwdriver (depends on the type of screws your phone has);
  • Flat screwdriver;
  • A pair of tweezers;
  • Pry opener tool;
  • Isopropyl alcohol;
  • Soft toothbrush;

As I said earlier, first you need to open the device in order to expose the mother board (logic board). Disconnect all cables, cameras, speakers and remove the mother board from the frame of the phone. Inspect and see if you can spot corrosion near connectors, transistors or any part of the phone.

Some phones may have some metal covers which can be removed with a flat screwdriver. Remove them if you can.

This is a picture of a an iPhone 4 mother board. The white stuff is corrosion.
iPhone 3G mother board with the top metal plate removed.

How to clean a water damaged smartphone

Before starting the cleaning process make sure that you cover the microphones using hot glue or something that can protect against the alcohol you will use to clean the board. Some phones have their microphone soldered to the mother board (Blackberry). Other phones have the microphone on a flex cable (iPhone 4 & 4S has one microphone on the charger port flex cable also known as – dock connector).

Once you finished covering the microphones you are now ready to clean the mother board by gently brushing it with the soft toothbrush damped in isopropyl alcohol. You can also use a spraying bottle in which you put the isopropyl. Spray the logic board and then brush it gently. You can use some gloves while doing this task because the alcohol will dry your hands. I am used to it so I don’t feel like wearing gloves. But be very careful because isopropyl alcohol is highly inflammable and can lead to severe burns if used around fire.  Dry the motherboard using a hot air gun and reassemble the phone together and give it a test. You may need to replace the battery and test to see if the device switches on now.

Note: I do not guarantee 100% that this procedure will fix your phone even if you do things properly, however it is by far more effective than the rice method. Also depending on how severe the water has damaged your phone some extra parts may need to be replace. The sooner you take action after the phone suffered water damage the more chances it has of being fixed.

George Cristea-Matei

Following different paths towards the road to self-discovery. Always hungry for knowledge and horizon expansion. Tech enthusiast & part-time trader on @eToro .

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