Dropping an advanced piece of technology such as the iPhone in water should be treated as an emergency. There is a set procedure following such an incident which can help you prevent further water damage to the iPhone. Timing is important and if you are lucky, you may even escape unhurt. This guide provides a set of “first-aid” steps which are known to avoid water from crippling the iPhone. Remember: there is no magic solution. Disclaimer: we cannot be held responsible should the below guide fail to help you fix the iPhone after it fell into water.
In case you drop the iPhone in water – turn it off immediately
Get the iPhone out of the water as soon as you can and switch off the iPhone by pressing the top Sleep/Wake button for 5 seconds until you see the following screen, then slide to power off. Of course if the iPhone is already turned off don’t turn it on.
Turning off the iPhone as swiftly as possible is the single most important step to prevent water damage. Keeping it off for good couple of days after the incident is as crucial.
It is not water per se which damages the iPhone but the short-circuits which can be produced by the electricity running in the iPhone’s circuit board.
Dry off the iPhone with a towel or a piece of fabric. Do NOT use a hair-dryer, nor place the iPhone in an oven as the excess heat will damage the iPhone beyond repair
Grab a plastic bag, preferably a common zipper storage bag and fill it up with uncooked rice or alternatively, silica-gel packets. Place the iPhone in the plastic bag and make sure the device is fully immersed in the rice.
If you cannot get hold of rice or silica, you can alternatively place the iPhone in a very dry and well ventilated place (i.e. a room used to dry clothes equipped with a cold-air blow fan)
Take out as much air as possible from the bag and zip it up. If you do not have a zipper bag, use a regular one, or as a last resort, a bowl
Let the iPhone remain in the rice for at least 24 hours (preferably 48 hours) after which the device should have completely dried up
Trying to turn on an iPhone after a water incident always poses a risk of damage. Before you turn on your iPhone, please refer to the section below.
iPhone and water damage
All iPhones feature a Liquid Contact Indicator (LCI) which is activated in case water got in contact with the circuit board and damaged the phone. If the iPhone was damaged by water, the indicator will glow bright red.
Once you take out the iPhone from the rice, be sure to check whether the indicator glows red. If you are lucky and there is no water damage, you should see the indicator’s regular color which is white or silver.
To find where the LCI is located on your iPhone, check out the below table.
Remember: it will always be safer to take your iPhone to the nearest Apple Store before attempting to turn the device.
Restoring iPhone data after a water incident
In some cases, the iPhone can escape water damage and you can continue using the device as normal. If you were quick to bring the iPhone out of the water, switch it off and dry it up using the steps above, you might not have to restore the device.
If the iPhone, on the other hand, returned to factory defaults and lost its data, there are a number of ways to bring content back to the iPhone. To do so, you need to restore the iPhone from a previous backup created via iTunes or via iCloud.
Restore iPhone via iTunes
If you recently synced the iPhone with iTunes before dropping the phone in water, you can restore it via iTunes. The below tutorial shows how to restore contacts from iTunes backup. The same steps will also restore other data on your iPhone such as settings, messages, calendars, and Camera Roll photos: How to restore iPhone from iTunes backup
Note that iTunes will only restore data from the time the backup was made. Any subsequent changes you made to the iPhone will not be restored.
Restore iPhone via iCloud
If the iPhone is running iOS 5 and above and if you had enabled iCloud backup prior to the incident, you can restore from a backup made by iCloud. iCloud will restore much the same data as iTunes – contacts, notes, messages, calendars and Camera Roll photos.
If the iPhone was reset after you dropped it in water, you will be prompted to set up the iPhone as new or to restore from backup, after you power on the device.
Tap “Restore from iCloud Backup” and select the last dated iCloud backup entry.
How to keep iPhone data safe and dry next time?
Water poses a real risk of damaging the iPhone beyond repair leading to loss of iPhone data. Backing up regularly is the solution to keep iPhone content safe.
We recommend using the free CopyTrans Shelbee to back up iPhone. Unlike iTunes, CopyTrans Shelbee is dedicated to the backup of your device and will never ask you whether you wish to “erase and sync”. CopyTrans Shelbee is much easier to use than iTunes and it also backs up apps and app documents including games and game scores! Download CopyTrans Shelbee for free Now
As a rule, using multiple methods to back up iPhone lowers the risk of data loss the next time you drop iPhone in water. To learn more about preventively backing-up iPhone data to PC, have a look at this tutorial: How to backup iPhone data.
Now you know what to do to try and prevent water damage in case you drop the iPhone in water.