I was wondering why does an iPhone that has been dunked in water still work afterwards even though it hasn't fully dried. While some other electronics stop working completely after touching water.

I am curious to understand why and how this works as I was faced with a dilemma of do I turn on my phone even after its been wet or do I NOT turn it on and risk losing everything from corrosion after 24 hours of drying with an inaccessible battery?


closed as off-topic by tcrosley, Leon Heller, Ricardo, nidhin, Daniel Grillo Apr 18 '15 at 13:01

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  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Not all water is the same. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Apr 17 '15 at 23:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ what would you have done in this similar scenario if you couldn't take the battery out? Would you still try to turn it on or wait for it to potentially dry? \$\endgroup\$ – Patoshi パトシ Apr 18 '15 at 0:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'd dunk it in a bucket of IPA and try to shake out anything bad. Not that one should do that, that's just what I would do. \$\endgroup\$ – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Apr 18 '15 at 0:55

First of all, as Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams commented, not all water is the same. At the extreme ends, salt water is 100,000 times more conductive than distilled water (so don't drop your iPhone in the ocean!). Tap water is in-between at 1000 to 10,000 times more conductive than distilled, depending on the amount of total dissolved solids (TDS).

But I assume you are talking about the same or nearly the same water in your question re an iPhone and other electronics.

The biggest factor in determining the potential for water damage is of course the amount of water that can get int the case. iPhones and iPods are nearly hermetically sealed. There are very few places that water can get in. The earphone jack looks like a possibility, but actually it is just a little tunnel into a solid block of plastic (the jack) that will not let any moisture in.

So compare that with other electronics you may have in mind, and I bet they are more susceptible to letting water get inside.

So the two issues are, the conductivity of the water, and the amount of exposure.

If you have a piece of electronics that has been in water, do not turn it on. If it is already on, shut it off. If it has a removable battery, remove it. I know in the case of the iPhone this takes a special tool, which consumers don't have access to (although you can buy them off Amazon, e.g. here). I guess you could try taking it to any Apple Store and have them remove the case if you really want to. There are also blogs on the web that give instructions on removing a iPhone battery.

One often-suggested method way of drying out a piece of electronics is to put it in a bag of uncooked rice and wait 48 hours before turning on the device. Another is to use a BHEESTIE bag, which is like the rice but works seven times faster. But of course you already have to have one.

However this article says using rice is a bad thing to do. Go figure. Seems a lot of people are using the rice trick successfully.

In any case, do not use a hair dryer, as the air will just drive any water further inside the case.

I've also seen people talk about putting a water-damaged device into an oven overnight at 130-160 deg F.

  • \$\begingroup\$ But what if I have valuable data on it? And I really need it. To turn it on or not? I know it can risk corrosion within 24 hours. \$\endgroup\$ – Patoshi パトシ Apr 18 '15 at 1:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ @duckxx I realize it is a gamble either way. If the phone was last working when it was turned on (after being wet), AND you can get your data off quickly, e.g. by opening up the iPhone as a folder on your desktop and copying all the files off in a few minutes, then maybe that is worth it. Do not plug the charger in. I would then use the rice and/or oven method and get as much moisture out before turning it back on again. \$\endgroup\$ – tcrosley Apr 18 '15 at 1:55

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