Water and your Phone don’t like each other.

  1. iphone WDI location

    Uh oh...

    Every iPhone has Water Damage Indicators (WDI’s) located in the dock connector and headphone jacks of the phone (looks like a little white – or red – dot when you look at just the right angle)

  2. If these indicators get exposed to more than a few drops  of water they turn RED?
  3. If you take your phone in for warranty service, and the indicators are red (see picture), then your entire phone warranty is VOIDED?

While for most of us they are a pain in the neck, the WDI’s on your phone exist to help the phone manufacturer diagnose what may be wrong if you need to bring your phone in for service.

From the manufacturer’s perspective, when you bring your phone in and complain that the camera no longer works, a quick check of these indicators will help the technician to say “Well, your camera doesn’t work because you have submerged your phone in water.” Without the indicators, they would have to run a gambit of tests to identify a problem, which cost time and money.

Since not a single phone manufacturer covers accidental damage from dropping, abuse, or submersion, these indicators also help them to avoid substantial warranty costs – instead of having to replace phones that have been dropped into lakes, instead they know that the repair should not be covered. While that is good for them, it doesn’t help the consumer out…especially when the WDI’s are unrelated to the actual problem with the phone.

Here is an example (inspired by actual events):

Right after getting your snazzy new phone, you’re getting out of the car while its raining out. Your phone slips out of your pocket and falls right into a puddle next to your car. Water splashes into the dock connector and headphone jack openings, and turn the Indicators RED.  You dry the phone off as best as you can (see instructions below) and everything seems to work fine.

A few months later, your phone starts dropping calls with an annoying frequency. It finally becomes unbearable so you take it in to the store for service…only to be told that you don’t have a warranty because the Water Damage Indicators have been tripped.

Now, any reasonable person would conclude that the phone did not stop dropping calls because of water damage from 3 months prior (although a certain Genius unsuccessfully tried to convince me of this). However, your ENTIRE phone warranty is voided, and any faulty equipment will be blamed on the water damage.

iPhones are not meant to be rugged

iPhones specifically have a unique situation compared to other cell phones – their WDI’s are actually exposed to the elements, as opposed to being tucked away against a battery inside your phone. When you have a sensor that is on the outside of the phone, you can run into situations where water hit the indicator strip, but didn’t actually penetrate into the phone (see above example).

This inherent design decision is the primary reason why the Phone Poncho exists – to help protect your phone from incidental damage, especially when you’re in a high-risk situation: the beach, the pool, camping, golfing, a picnic…you get the picture.

What do I do if my phone gets wet??

Here’s a summary of the best tips I have come across in my searching:

  • First things first – get it out of the water as quickly as possible! The longer the phone is exposed to water, the greater the risk of damage as it seeps further and further in.
  • Turn off your phone completely, if possible. If it already shut itself off when underwater, leave it off. Do not try to turn the phone on until you are very confident that all water has been dried or evaporated.
  • Dry off the phone with a towel immediately. Pay special attention to the spots where water can penetrate into the phone.
  • Grab a hair dryer and use it on the low setting, taking care to not melt anything (it can happen if you get too close!)
  • Grab a zip-top bag, and fill it with dry rice or those silicon packets that come with new shoes (or both!). Drop the phone in the bag and seal it completely. Leave the phone in there for a day or two, the water will evaporate and the rice/silicon will help to absorb any moisture.
  • If you have a dryer with a shoe-rack, wrap the phone in a hand towel and place it on the rack. Turn your dryer on as low of heat as possible for about 20 minutes. *Make sure your phone doesn’t tumble around the dryer!!
  • When you’re positive that you have absorbed every last drop of water that could possibly be in your phone, turn it on/plug it in, cross your fingers, and hold your breath!
  • Don’t drop your phone in water again.

If you have tried everything, and your phone still won’t work, try doing a search for “hiding” the water damage on your phone. There are some tutorials for how to replace the indicators and whatnot – of course we at the Phone Poncho would never endorse that sort of activity. Truth be told – they are for fairly advanced users only, don’t even bother if you are scared to open up your phone.

Otherwise, you can always pitch your problem to the store employees. There have been rare occasions where people report an exception being made, but don’t get your hopes up. Personally, I tried to convince them that there was no way that the earlier water damage could cause the completely unrelated problem or dropping calls. In fact – right before he checked the water damage indicators the guy said “Alright well it seems like there is a problem, we’ll just go ahead and replace the phone for you under warranty.” Once he saw the red dots, there was no chance.

Next time, Buy a Phone Poncho!!

This is why the Phone Poncho exists – for when you only need a phone (as in just to make phone calls).  99% of the cases that are on the market today do not provide protection from dirt, debris, or water which can easily get in your phone through the microphone, speaker, headphone jack, or dock connector. If you damage your phone, it  could end up costing you if you need to buy a new phone out-of-contract!

  • Going to the beach with the fam? Well you can’t leave your phone in the car in case you need to meet up with other people…
  • Junior has a soccer game and its raining? You’ll need your phone in case your wife needs to get in touch…
  • What about spending a day hiking in the great outdoors, but it might rain? That phone may literally be a lifesaver…

Buy a Phone Poncho

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