Can Water Damaged iPhone be Fixed?

What’s the scoop with putting my water exposed iPhone in uncooked, white rice?  Does it really work?

There’s not many of us who haven’t heard of someone who’s put their iPhone that went for a swim in uncooked, white rice for 48 hours and it miraculously revived. Does this really work?  Can water damaged iPhone be fixed in this manner? The theory is that the rice will absorb the moisture in your iPhone and voila…water is gone. The simple truth is that it doesn’t work.  Before you disagree with me, I can tell you with certainty that if the rice “worked” its because you didn’t have a significant amount of water enter your iPhone in the first place. Can Water Damage iPhone Be Fixed

Most of us know that water happens to be a wonderful conductor of electricity, so when water is introduced to an electrical current a short circuit will take place. You see, electricity likes the path of least resistance.  When water creates that path, it will take it and cause a circuit to “short”.  You might think of it this way.  Electricity follows a designed path, and a water drop creates an unplanned path for that electrical current.

This is a big deal with iPhone logic boards because they are a complex network of thousands of circuits that even the smallest droplet of water can short circuit. Here are THE MOST IMPORTANT things you should do when you take your iPhone for a swim.

  1. Your iPhone will likely shut off.  DO NOT attempt to turn it back on under any circumstance and certainly DO NOT plug it in to your charging cable. You don’t want to re-introduce an electrical current to the water inside your iPhone.
  2. Get your iPhone to the nearest repair center ASAP (like within a couple of hours).  The sooner a water exposed iPhone can get opened to begin drying out with the battery disconnected, the better.

If you have the tools, and you’re a DIYer at heart, then check out my step by step instruction below or visit my video tutorial on how to open your iPhone 6 to get it dried out to have the best chance at survival. Repair videos are coming soon so check back often.  *Please note, if your iPhone is less than one year old, having anyone (even yourself) open your iPhone other than a certified Apple dealer, it will void the one year manufacture warranty.

More likely than not, you’ll need to replace the battery.  This is common practice in the industry as batteries don’t do well after water exposure.

The absolute HIGHEST possible success rate for water damaged iPhones is getting it to a repair shop within a few hours. The water typically doesn’t destroy your phone initially. It’s the rust and corrosion after it sits for a couple days (in rice).

Can Water Damge iPhone Be FixedIt’s money well spent. I had a customer recently who was thrilled to retrieve her 2,200+ Hawaiian vacation pictures after dropping her iPhone in the toilet. She brought me her iPhone within a couple of hours, and it wasn’t working.  Hers was a success story; however, no one can guarantee revival success, but the permanent damage rate exponentially increases the longer you wait. One more tip…sync your iPhone regularly or have some method of storing your irreplaceable videos and pictures.

iPhone 6 Step by Step DIY Guide for drying out your newly submerged iPhone

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  1. Tools you need from left to right.  Suction cup, iSesamo pry tool, #00 phillips screwdriver, pentalobe screwdriver, plastic spudger, tweezers and magnetic mat (not imperative but really helps keeping screws in place).

 

can water damaged iphone be fixed

2. Using the pentalobe screwdriver, remove the two pentalobe screws. From left to right, here on the iPhone 6, you have the headphone jack, lower microphone, dock, speaker holes.

 

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3. Place suction cup on glass just above the home button.  As you apply mild pressure upward, the screen will separate from the frame.  Many DIY videos want you to pull with enough force to completely pop the screen off the frame.  Although this technique works, if too much force is applied, the screen will pop up too far and rip important flex cables attached at the top of the screen.  I recommend lifting just enough to insert a plastic spudger just underneath the separated glass above the headphone jack.

 

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4. Be careful not to insert the spudger too far.  1/8-1/4 inches is plenty.

 

 

 

 

 

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5. Once inserted, pry (leverage) the spudger upwards at an angle using its flat edge.  The motion would be similar to tightening a screwdriver a quarter turn to the right. The screen will pop up on that bottom right side.

 

 

 

can-water-damaged-iphone-be-fixed6. Begin sliding the spudger to the right of the home button and repeat lifting the screen in the same manner as before.  Now repeat this motion sliding down the right side of the screen lifting every inch or so.  You will see and feel the screen lifting out of its frame.

 

 

 

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Optional:  If your iPhone screen is cracked, you may not get a good seal with the suction. Just above and between the headphone jack and lower mic. insert an iSesamo pry tool and gently pry up to release the bottom left of the screen.  Again, be careful not to place the iSesamo more than 1/8-1/4 inch into the phone.

 

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7. This is important!  Open the iPhone screen by lifting from the bottom.  (like a clam opening) The screen cannot be removed.  It is attached by four flex cables under a protective shield at the top of the iPhone. Notice the water inside still pooled on the battery and logic board.  With one hand hold the screen upwards and do not exceed a 90 degree angle.

 

 

can-water-damaged-iphone-be-fixed8. It’s time to disconnect the battery.  The battery connects below a shield that has two phillips head screws securing it in place.  Remove the two screws and place on magnetic mat.

 

can-water-damaged-iphone-be-fixed9. Once the screws are out, remove the shield.  The foam adhered to the tops of the battery flex and dock connector flex under this shield can create a mild sticky feel.  In other words, the shield may need a bit of motivation to lightly pry it up.

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10. There are two flex cables connected to the logic board.  The one shown here is where the battery connects.

 

 

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11.  Take the flat end of the spudger, place it under the battery flex and lightly pry using an upward motion like turning a screwdriver a quarter turn to the left this time.

 

can-water-damaged-iphone-be-fixed12. Lift the battery connector so it’s completely separated from the logic board.  It’s ok to bend the flex cable so it stays upright.

 

 

can-water-damaged-iphone-be-fixed13. Set your iPhone on end like shown. Allow it to air dry for at least 24 hours.

If you followed these steps within a couple of hours of water exposure and haven’t tried to turn your iPhone back on or plugged it in, your survival rate is much higher than placing the phone in rice (which doesn’t work) or hoping it didn’t do anything major.

 

can-water-damaged-iphone-be-fixedThere are a couple of water damage indicators in the iPhone 6. One is at the top of the iPhone just to the left of the EMI shield as shown.  It it’s white, water hasn’t penetrated into this part of the phone.  If red, like here, water.

Once again, there is no sure fire way to guarantee an iPhone’s survival when exposed to water; however, your chances exponentially increase if you follow the above steps or get it to a local technician.

Once you’ve waited 24 or more hours, you don’t need to put the iPhone back together to test if it works.  Simply reconnect the battery, lower the screen so it’s just resting on the frame, and Power it up.  If your lucky, you’ll see the Apple Logo staring back at you.

If it fires up test all the functions of the iPhone. Cameras, buttons, touch ID, touch screen, vibrate motor, headphone jack, microphones and speakers, etc.

If it all checks out, my suggestion is to REPLACE THE BATTERY. I will soon have a battery replacement video produced to DIY and recommend where to buy a new battery.

But I have a different iPhone model.

The above steps can be followed for the iPhone 5 and 5c with the only difference being the configuration of the brackets holding down the battery flex.

The iPhone 5S is a completely different animal in that the home button is attached by a flex cable just above the dock connector.  If you pull up on the screen, you will tear the home button flex.  Although this can be replaced, your touch ID will never work again because that home button is paired to your iPhone. Comment on this page, and I can help you through that tricky little connection.

The iPhone 6S is different only in that Apple added a relatively strong adhesive around the glass adhering it to the frame.  You can use the same technique above, but the adhesive makes it a bit more of a “sticky” situation.

If your iPhone 7 goes for a swim…well, I hope you have insurance at this point.  I would not recommend opening your 7.

I hope this helped you out.

If you have any thoughts or questions please comment, and I’d be happy to help answer any questions you may have about your water damaged iPhone.

4 thoughts on “Can Water Damaged iPhone be Fixed?”

  1. This is really weird, because I came to work today and my co worker was saying how she got her phone wet. Perfect timing. She said she put it in rice. I sent her your link. I have never owned an I-Phone myself, so no worries for me. lol Great job on your website. You have very good information here.

    1. That’s great, MarieAnne. I get great joy out of knowing I can pass on valuable information to help iPhone users with their water damaged devices. Hopefully it’s not too late to save her iPhone. Please feel free to pass this on or paste to your own Facebook or Instagram pages.

  2. Hi Patric,
    Great information easy to follow on water !damage!. I’m a do it your self person. Doesn’t matter what kind of electrical appliances I have to work with. I am fascinate with electricity, most people will take it to a dealer. But with a lot of experience in taking things apart and putting them back together again the mechanics of an electrical item are some what the same.
    My grandson not long-ago had his iphone fall into the toilet. It wasn’t in there but a second he was so upset. We placed the phone on a counter top flat screen facing up and placed my hair dryer to the input on a very low heat and left it running for a couple hours. I think he was very lucky. I will put this page on book mark great info to have Linda a@ alwaysabetterways.com

    1. Hi Linda. Yes, I think he likely didn’t get water too far into the device to cause a short circuit to occur. I love a fellow DIYer. There’s something so gratifying about repairing “stuff”, especially those things that are so important and necessary in our lives today, like our iPhones. I appreciate your story.

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