Dip dip dip…

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February 21st, 2009 Priyanka Joshi


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We cannot imagine a day without our phones, right? We have observed that there is whole lot of mayhem when you drop your mobile (or better termed as your life line) into water. (Guess, it’s no big secret that we all take our phones to wash rooms, during work hours at least).  So, here are some useful tricks to help you bring back a ‘wet’ mobile phone to normalcy.

It works…I dropped a Nokia N81 in a water tub to prove my point (I know I’m mad). And it is in working condition as I write this post.

Disclaimer: Please don’t perform these stunts by your own unless you have a spare phone or a genuine wet phone.

Trick 1: Get it out of the water as soon as possible. The plastic/metal covers on phones are tight, but not tight enough to prevent water from entering the phone. It takes less than 15-20 seconds for water to start wetting the battery hence grab your phone out quickly. Water helps dissipate heat from shorts that can damage the phone, so most damage occurs when the inside of the phone is merely wet and there is a power source. Try switching off the phone immediately to avoid further damage.

Reason being, once water gets on to the phone’s circuit board, it starts to corrode the circuit. Even if you dry it out, you can get minor conductivity between circuit tracks that are not supposed to conduct. The overall effect is that it changes voltage and current levels in the board. The phone may work initially, but over time it causes stress to other components, as mobile phones are high precision devices, worked out with thousands of micro components, they will eventually be affected.

Trick 2: Use a vacuum cleaner if possible. Please don’t use a hair dryer to dry out the phone, as this may force moisture further into the smaller components (and there are many in your mobile phone, after you have removed all covers & battery). If moisture is driven deeper inside, corrosion and oxidation may result when minerals from liquids are deposited on the circuitry. Sometimes, using a hairdryer might seem like a good fix, but eventually it can lead to cause component failure (say like dimming LCD screen, buttons not working or sound problems) inside the phone.

Just remove all residual moisture by drawing it away with a vacuum cleaner holding over the wet areas for up to 20 minutes but remember not to hold the vacuum too close to the phone, as a vacuum can create static electricity, which is even worse.

Trick 3: To find out if the phone is truly water damaged, remove the phone battery. In the corner near where the battery is, there should be a white square or circle, with or without red lines. If this is pink or red, your phone does in fact have water damage.

Trick 4: Get a desiccant to help draw out moisture or try leaving the phone in a bowl or bag of uncooked rice overnight (I have heard about this one, not tried. But desiccant works). Desiccant, I can say with confidence, will absorb moisture better than rice. It may be found under a brand name such as Damp Rid or Dry All or just ask the neighbourhood hardware store for one.

Trick 5: Test your phone. After you have waited a day or so and have made sure that everything is clean and dry looking, then re-attach the battery to the phone and see if it works. If your phone does not work, try plugging it into its charger without the battery, if this works, you need a new battery. Lithium-ion batteries are sensitive and hence be careful while blow-drying it.

Or just take the phone to an authorised dealer and hope that he can do some magic!

WARNING:

  • Most manufacturers place a liquid damage indicator sticker that changes colours when they come in contact with liquids. This is how technicians know that you have dropped your phone in water. So, don’t try and argue with your dealer for a phone replacement.
  • Sometimes minerals dissolved in the water (if it is hard water) can precipitate on component pins, causing corrosion or shorting. Component pins are packed so tight in mobile phones that even a small encrustation can create a short, rendering the phone inoperable.
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8 Responses to “Dip dip dip…”

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  3. Priyanka Joshi Says:

    Biju: You were, I guess lucky, that the screen did not go kaput as in most cases. It’s a good idea to use the laptop fan (or even CPU’s fan) to dry off the wet phone as it indeed gives a degree of hot-cold air. Good tip.

  4. Biju Says:

    only yesterday i dropped my phone, again, into wash basin! i lifted it quickly and pulled out my hanky and wiped out all the water. then i removed the cover, disconnected the battery and wiped out all the water inside using a tissue paper (neither a hair-dryer nor a vacuum cleaner was readily available to me at the point of time). but i realised that the water had swept deep into the phone, inside its lcd display and speaker. after wiping out as much water as i could, and also also trying to remove the water swept inside by shaking the phone repeatedly, i replaced the battery and checked if it was working. to my surprise, there was absolutely no problem at first. but later on it started giving troubles. at first, the keys became non-responsive, then there was a blank display screen etc. then i tried calling my mobile from my office landline, and it was receiving the call! and also started functioning properly eventhough it was for a few minutes. then i kept my phone just infront of the exhaust fan of my laptop as i noticed that it emits just as much heat and air to dry up my phone. i kept it there for almost half hour and later discovered that my phone was slowly becoming more responsive and functional.

  5. Priyanka Joshi Says:

    Sanjay: The above written are not a trick. They are pretty logical steps of helping users who might have incidentally dropped their mobile in water, at some point. I never said, that it’s foolproof but even if you take it to the mobile technicians, they would first try the same steps. It’s like what first-aid is.

    Arun: Well, whether it is a bucket-full of water or a tub-full, if your water enters and erodes the circuitry, then there is little that anyone could do. Kids are more prone to such accidents but I have myself incidentally dropped my mobile in wash basin full of water and another time I almost flushed it. While the second time around, i could not revive the phone as the circuitry gave away but the first phone (Nokia N81) is pretty much still working.

  6. arun Says:

    Only recently, my toddler son took my phone playingly and slipped into the kitchen. Out came her mother the very next moment showing my phone dripping water. My son had put the phone in a bucket full of water. As I tried to call someone in my attempt to check if everything is fine about my phone, it gave a blank screen with some strange sound. I had lost hope of getting it alright.
    I tried whatever came to my mind but the phone would not work. I then took out the battery and left it dry. After a day or so, it began working.
    My immediate and long-term feeling about the incident is that I liked it being put into the water by my son even though it made me change the sim into another handset and so on.
    Now, I wonder how far you have gone into understanding the problem and trying to solve it. What’s your take if your phone is put into the water by someone as loved as a son?

  7. Sanjay Sharma Says:

    I lost my favourte phone by using this trik. I am so sorry ms. Joshi

  8. Challenged Says:

    Blug…blug…blug… whadds da sound ya blug blug blug hearing? Aqua sound?

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