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It’s happened to all of us at one stage or another: you've pulled out your phone to answer a message or check the time and just as it's cleared your pocket, your fingers go haywire and your smartphone leaps out of your hands as if it were a burning coal. Few things in life can be as stressful as those agonising seconds: watching your phone gliding gracefully through the air before landing with a loud splash into a big puddle of water. Whether it's in a pool outside, a side drain on a rainy day, or, worst case scenario, the toilet, a wet phone could result in a dead phone (unless it happens to be water resistant like the new iPhone 8 and X).
So what can you do when you accidentally drop your phone in water, and what should you definitely not do? Let's find out:
What to do
First of all remember that seconds count in this situation, so take it out the water immediately!
Turn off the phone and remove the battery (if it’s removable). The longer the battery stays connected, the higher the chance of it shorting out other components. Then take out the microSD card and SIM card from their side slots as well.
If you managed to open the phone, removed the battery which should give you access to the phone's inside components. Next, clean out the inside of the phone, and the microSD and SIM cards with alcohol. Don't use drinking alcohol like gin or vodka - regular rubbing alcohol will do (you can get it at a pharmacy). The aim is to wash away any dirt or minerals that may have found their way inside the phone. You can safely apply small amounts of alcohol to the phone with a cloth with no risk of damaging it (it should just evaporate).
After cleaning the phone, battery, SIM card, and SD card with alcohol, put them in a sealed bag of uncooked rice to dry. Leave them in the bag for several days. Hopefully, the rice would absorb all the remaining water molecules.
If you’re in luck, the phone will work as if nothing happened. If the phone is still not working, then it's probably best to admit defeat and start looking for a replacement.
What not to do
If the phone happened to switch itself off, then don't try to switch it back on. The electrical components and the water won't mix well. For the same reason, you shouldn't plug the phone in to charge.
If you're using a phone with a keypad instead of a touchscreen, try and refrain from pressing any keys. This can push water further into the phone.
For the same reason, you shouldn't shake or blow into the device, as this could push the water deeper into the phone. Especially try to avoid blow driers – the excess heat from the hot air could cause further damage to your phone.
It's really best to try to fiddle with the phone as little as possible, as you don’t want the water moving around inside the phone. Rather follow the steps above and hope that you've caught it in time.
Understand your phone's water resistance
It's useful to know whether your phone is water or dust resistant to begin with. Many smartphones these days have either a rating of IP67 or IP68. 'IP' stands for Ingress Protection - that just means how resistant the device is to the ingress (entry) of water or dust. The first number refers to solids, such as dust. A rating of 5 means no protection while six means the phone is protected against dust.
The second number is the most crucial, as it refers to water resistance. Anything over five offers some kind of water resistance, but things really get good with a rating of seven or above. A rating of seven means you should be okay to immerse your phone in fresh water up to a metre deep, while eight means you should be able to submerge your phone deeper than one metre.
However, no device is ever completely waterproof, and while a water resistance rating gives you peace of mind when accidentally dropping your phone in the drink, our recommendation is not to deliberately test your phone's capabilities and take it for a swim on purpose!
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