So you dropped your Apple iPhone in the bath, the sea or the toilet, and you want to fix it, dry it out, and recover the data inside. Here's how to rescue a waterlogged iPhone. Updated, 17 Feb 2014
It's a sad fact that iPhones and iPads (but particularly iPhones) get damaged all the time. Probably the most common is the smashed screen, which we discuss in our article on getting Apple to replace your broken iPhone. But the second most common is almost certainly water damage.
Cheer up, however, because a quick dunk in the H20 isn't necessarily a death sentence for an iPhone - we can't guarantee anything, but all is not lost quite yet. In this article we explain the best strategies for dealing with a water-damaged iPhone or other iOS device. (Indeed, the same principles will apply to most electronic devices.)
How to fix a water-damaged iPhone: Emergency external drying
First things first. Get the iPhone out of the water (lake/bidet/soup) right away, if you haven't already, and don't even think about plugging it in. If the waterlogged iPhone is plugged in already, unplug it (very carefully), and don't be tempted to turn it on and check for damage, which can cause short circuits.
If the wet iPhone is in a case, remove it; take the SIM card out too. (Removing the battery wouldn't hurt either, but this is obviously only for confident DIY-type users who are willing to void the warranty.) These steps help to reduce the number of nooks and crannies where water can linger, and help to avoid damage to key iPhone components.
Wipe the excess and exterior liquid off everything you can reach. Turn the iPhone upside down and give it a gentle shake to clear the ports and sockets.
How to fix a water-damaged iPhone: Deeper drying
Now we need to draw as much interior liquid out as possible. Resist the temptation to use a hair dryer or other heat treatment, which can damage the iPhone's internal components.
Believe it or not, many people swear by uncooked rice, advising owners to put their damp iPad or iPhone in a big bowl of the stuff (cover it completely) and leave it there for 24 hours or more. The rice will absorb the moisture effectively, but may get dust or even entire grains into the ports. Be warned.
We discuss this method in more detail in our article: iPhone water damage: rescue a soaked device with rice trick
However, a better option than uncooked rice if you've got it is silica gel – those packets that come with some electronic components. If you can muster enough of them to cover the iPad/iPhone (you may be able to buy them en masse from a craft shop), they'll dry it out more efficiently and less messily than the rice. You should still give the iPhone at least a full day to dry out completely, however.
Once you've waited a day or two and think you've successfully dried out your iPhone, you can try switching it on. If it still doesn't work, or if you want to get the internals checked out, you can ask Apple to take a look, but bear in mind that iOS devices have internal liquid detectors, so there's no point pretending the device went wrong of its own accord. They will know.
One final warning: a bad submersion may cause long-term damage, particularly to the battery, that only becomes apparent months later. In one famous case, an iPhone 3GS spontaneously overheated more than a year after being dropped in a pool. The owner had used the rice technique and the iPhone had worked fine afterwards.
How to fix a water-damaged iPhone: Anti-water damage products
Hopefully the steps above helped you revive the drowned iPhone in your life, but are there steps to help us avoid the situation in future? Yes there are.
Apologies if this sounds patronising, but step one is to keep your devices dry. Water's not, you know, good for iPhones and iPads. So those (extremely common) hazards so many iPhone owners risk - taking photos on the beach, browsing the web in the bath, even reading email on the loo - are best avoided. Most of us only cotton on to the dangers after our first soaked iPhone.
We're all human, however, and things get dropped, so it's best to anticipate this. If you really want to use your iPad to read ebooks by the pool or in the bath, consider buying a waterproof case: Lifedge has a £99 iPad case that can handle water and shocks; it also includes an anti-glare screen for sunlight viewing and doesn’t restrict the functionality of the touchscreen or cameras. Also consider the LifeProof Nuud case.
We've got lots more options in our iPhone case reviews and iPad case reviews sections, along with our round articles: Best cases for iPhone 5c, Best cases for iPhone 5s, iPhone 5 and The best cases for iPad Air.
Another option to bear in mind is some kind of handle or wrist strap so that you're less likely to drop the device in the first place.
A handy emergency package to have around - obviously it's best to have it ready in advance, instead of waiting for the crisis to occur and then queueing at the shops - is Kensington's EVAP. It's pretty expensive for what you get, but effectively an improved version of the Silica gel trick above. Well worth consideration, we'd say.
How to fix a water-damaged iPhone: Hoax 'waterproofing' warning
Finally, a warning about a hoax advert that we think was originally intended as a joke, but has taken in a few unfortunate iPhone users around the globe.
Duped iPhonw owners have taken to Facebook and Twitter to vent their fury after being tricked by a fake iOS 7 advert. The mock-up, which was designed to resemble Apple's own ads, says: "Update to iOS 7 and become waterproof." Unfortunately, it appears that some users have ruined their devices by testing out this new 'feature'. One less-than-happy Twitter user wrote: "Whoever said ios7 was waterproof, **** you." It's thought that the hoax started out on 4chan, an online forum infamous for its pranks.
Needless to say, although iOS 7 has some great new features, including a completely redesigned interface, multitasking and the Control Centre, waterproofing is not one of them. If, however, you do accidentally drop your iPhone in some water, the tips above could help save your device.
See also:The Complete Guide to the iPhone 5s & 5c is on-sale now. Click here for buying information.