How waterproof is your smartphone?

How waterproof is your smartphone ? – And what to do when it gets wet

It happens to everyone, whether at the pool, on the beach, or even over the toilet – smartphones are always at risk of suffering water damage. However, thanks to technological advances over the last few years, many smartphone manufacturers now design their devices to be water resistant.

The Samsung Galaxy S21, S22, and Note 20, are advertised as water-resistant and have an IP68 rating. This means it can withstand dust, dirt, and sand, and are resistant to submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5m underwater for up to 30 minutes. The iPhone 8 and iPhone X have an IP67 and are resistant to submersion up to a maximum depth of 1.5m underwater for up to 30 minutes while the iPhone 12, iPhone 13, iPhone 13 Pro and iPhone 13 Pro Max are certified as IP68 (under IEC standard 60529), so in this case, it can only be submerged at a maximum depth of up to 6m and for 30 minutes.

As for water pressure, both IP67 and IP68 rated phones can only really handle low water pressure, like rain and water splashing over the phone, but swimming, getting thrown into a pool, or having a wave crash over you with your phone in your pocket could cause enough water pressure to break the seals and leave you with a phone that is severely damaged.

You can easily check it by removing the SIM tray on your phone to look at the liquid damage indicator. Red means it is liquid damaged, while white means it isn’t.

So, what can you do when you find yourself with a water-damaged phone? Cell Clinic has a few tips that could help smartphone users save their devices from irreparable damage.

If your phone is water resistant (IP8 or IP7 rated), we recommend you just check the liquid damage indicator first, and if its still white then you should be okay to just dry the phone with a soft cloth and pay attention to dry the phone around the speaker and mic and charge port openings thoroughly.

If the sticker has turned red, or you have a phone that is not water-resistant, read on.

Switch it off and remove the battery

The first thing you need to do in case of water damage is to switch the device off immediately and remove the battery. If you can’t remove the battery, just leave the phone powered off.

Most users want to test if the smartphone will switch on again – however, trying to switch your phone back on will only increase the chance of it short circuiting.

Rinse it

Now, depending on how wet your phone got, you might not have to rinse it that much.

Only you will know how much liquid it was exposed to, so the rule of thumb is to clean it with an equal amount as to what it was exposed to.

So, a phone that was fully submerged will require a fully submerged rinse. If just the bottom connector was exposed to water then just clean that area using a bit of isopropyl alcohol and a clean, cheap toothbrush. If the device has been submerged in salt water or in any other form of liquid, it should be rinsed with isopropyl alcohol (90% and above is generally available at any pharmacy). If it’s not available, you can use distilled water.

The reason for this is that the salts cause oxidation, which will quickly lead to corrosion (rust) on the motherboard, screen connectors, and other components. Corrosion can start to form within about 30 minutes.

There is a high change that your screen will have permanent blotch marks on the inside if liquid got inside the screen, so the screen might end up working but will not look pretty.

To dry it

Shake out all the excessive liquid after having rinsed it. Then use a vacuum, if you have one, to lightly suck some of the excess water out, but be careful not to get too close to the phone’s speaker or loudspeaker ports as it can damage the membrane.

Using a hairdryer

Firstly, you want to get as much liquid out. Using a hairdryer, you can start by blow-drying your cell phone for about 15 minutes at a distance far enough to not force liquid back into all the small holes, like the charging port or speaker and mic openings, as this will just force liquid deeper into the phone. You want to create enough heat to where it would be just hot enough, so it will help evaporate the alcohol.

Use the oven

Don’t have a hair dryer? You can use your home oven, but of course be careful and use at your own risk.

Set the temperature between 60-75 degrees Celsius and place the phone in the centre of the oven. Leave the door halfway open, while leaving it on for about 15 minutes. Then, switch the oven off and leave the phone to cool down for about 15 minutes. If you don’t have success, you can repeat this process again.

The reason we would recommend an oven is that we already use a specialised oven when we repair a phone’s cracked screen. Smartphones are placed in the oven at 80 degrees for 15 minutes. This loosens the glue to help remove a cracked screen from the frame, so using it to try to dry your phone is an option, but again just be careful.

A typical oven used when repairing your phone

Before you plug a charger in, try to switch it on and if nothing happens, try to charge it and then try to switch it on again.

These tips are not guaranteed, of course, and are only a recommendation for emergencies. “Our advice is to always take it to a reputable repair centre who have the correct tools and consumables and are trained to do proper repair work on devices,” said Cell Clinic.

Repair your device at Cell Clinic

Cell Clinic offers affordable and convenient online repair services for Samsung and Apple smartphones, across South Africa – repairs come with a 12-month warranty and free insured door-to-door collection and delivery.


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