Can a phone screen not work because of water damage?

What Causes Water Damage in Phones

The most common cause of water damage in phones is exposing the device to water or moisture. This can happen through various ways such as:

  • Dropping the phone in water – Whether it’s a pool, toilet, sink, or other body of water, dropping a phone can lead to water seeping into the device and damaging internal components.
  • Using the phone in the rain – Getting rained on while using your phone out in the open can allow moisture to enter through ports or seams.
  • Spills – Accidentally spilling water or another liquid on your phone can quickly lead to water damage.
  • Condensation – When a cold phone is brought into a warm, humid area, condensation can form which allows moisture to get inside the device.
  • Defects – Manufacturing defects or cracks/damage to the exterior can provide a way for moisture to get inside the phone.

Exposing a phone to water or moisture creates a high risk for both immediate and long-term water damage. Phone components like the logic board, connectors, and screen can easily be impacted by water exposure leading to anything from glitchy performance to complete failure.

How Water Damages Phone Screens

Water can damage phone screens in several ways:

First, water can cause short circuits and corrode connections inside the phone. When water gets inside the phone, it can bridge connections between components that are not meant to touch, creating shorts. This disrupts the flow of electricity and can lead to malfunctions. Additionally, the minerals in water can start corroding the metal connectors and printed circuit boards inside the phone over time (Source).

Second, moisture can become trapped under the screen. If water seeps under the screen, it has no where to evaporate. This moisture gets stuck and can interfere with the screen’s touch sensitivity and display (Source). It can also promote corrosion of the display components over time.

Finally, water damage can cause corrosion of delicate display components like the display driver. These components are not designed to withstand moisture. Corrosion degrades their ability to function properly and can lead to issues like screen flickering or no image displaying at all.

Signs of Water Damaged Screen

There are several telltale signs that may indicate water damage on a phone’s screen.

One of the most obvious signs is the display not turning on at all when you press the power button. This could mean water has reached the internal components and caused a short circuit or corrosion.

Discoloration or dark spots on the screen are also common with water damage. These are usually caused by moisture getting trapped underneath the glass display and LCD layers of the screen.

Flickering, distorted, or scrambled images on the screen can occur when water seeps into the display connectors. This disruption in the connection between display components results in the digital corruption and artifacts.

Lack of response from the touchscreen, including taps, swipes and presses not registering correctly is another sign of water infiltration. When water reaches the touchscreen circuitry, it can interfere with the phone’s ability to detect finger input.

In essence, any visual artifacts, distortion or unresponsiveness, especially if it occurs suddenly after water exposure, are strong indications of water damage to the phone’s screen.

How to Check for Water Damage

There are a few methods to check if a phone has water damage.

Physically inspect the phone for signs of water intrusion. Look closely at ports, buttons, and seams for trapped water or moisture. Water damage indicators in iPhones are tiny paper strips that turn red when wet, located inside the SIM card slot. On Samsung and Android phones, these indicators are often near charging ports. Check for fogging or condensation under the screen as this indicates water has entered the phone.

Run diagnostic tests built into the phone’s operating system. On iPhones, use the “iOS moisture detection” tool under Settings to check for liquid contact. Android devices have apps like “phone health” to monitor sensors related to water exposure.

Examine the logic board inside the phone for corrosion, which appears as green or whitish buildup around components. This requires opening up the device. Severe corrosion can prevent the logic board from functioning properly after water damage.

According to Asurion, checking phone ports, moisture strips, and behind the screen are some of the best ways to detect water damage.

Fixing Water Damaged Screens

If your phone screen is still not working after drying out the phone, you may need to open it up and replace any water damaged components. The first step is to open up the phone casing to access the internal components. Be very careful when opening your phone and follow a teardown guide specific to your phone model. Wear an anti-static wrist strap to avoid damaging any electronics.

Once inside, use a hair dryer on low heat or canned air to thoroughly dry out all components, looking for any corrosion or residue from water exposure. Check connectors for corrosion and clean them with isopropyl alcohol. If the screen still doesn’t work, you’ll likely need to replace it. Follow a guide to properly remove and replace the screen assembly. Only use authentic OEM replacement screens to ensure full compatibility and functionality.

For more significant water damage like a corroded motherboard, you may need to replace multiple internal components. At this point, it’s best to take your phone to a professional repair shop. Phone repair technicians have the tools, parts, and expertise to properly diagnose issues and perform the necessary repairs after water damage. They can disassemble the phone, clean or replace any damaged parts, and reassemble the phone so it works like new again. This is recommended over attempting complex component-level repairs yourself.

According to Panda Security, extensive water damage repairs at a phone repair shop typically cost $60-$200 depending on the phone model and parts needing replacement. The repair cost is worthwhile compared to buying a brand new phone.

Preventing Water Damage

There are several steps you can take to help prevent water damage to your phone:

Use a waterproof case – Putting your phone in a waterproof case is one of the best ways to prevent water damage. Waterproof cases create a protective barrier that keeps water out of your phone. Look for IP68 rated waterproof cases for maximum water protection.

Avoid exposing your phone to water – Be very careful when having your phone around water. Don’t use your phone when washing your hands, taking a bath or shower, swimming, or doing other activities with water present. Even a small splash can damage your phone.

Dry your phone immediately if it gets wet – If your phone happens to get wet, dry it off right away with a clean, soft cloth. Gently dab the ports and buttons to soak up any moisture. Avoid rubbing the screen.

Don’t charge a wet phone – Never try to charge your phone if it got wet. Charging a wet phone can cause electric damage in addition to water damage. Let your phone dry out completely before attempting to charge it.


Drying a Wet Phone

If your phone gets exposed to moisture, it’s important to dry it out as quickly as possible to prevent permanent water damage. Here are some recommended steps for drying a wet phone:

First, remove the battery and SIM card to prevent electrical shorts. Carefully wipe down all surfaces with an absorbent microfiber cloth to soak up excess moisture.

Next, place the phone in a bowl or bag of dry, uncooked rice. Rice absorbs moisture well and will help draw water out of your phone’s interior ports and crevices. Let it sit in the rice for at least 24 hours.

You can also point a fan towards your phone to help accelerate the drying process. Just make sure not to blow air directly into the ports, which could push moisture deeper inside.

Be patient during the drying process and resist the urge to turn on your phone before it’s fully dry, as this could short circuit the device. With proper drying, you may be able to revive a water-damaged phone.

Water Damage Repair Costs

The cost to repair a water damaged phone can vary significantly depending on the extent of the damage. Here are some typical repair costs:

Screen replacement: $100-$250 – If the screen is damaged but the rest of the phone is functional, a screen replacement may be all that’s needed. Replacing an iPhone screen averages around $150-250, while Android screens cost $100-200 on average.

Motherboard replacement: $150-$300 – If water got inside the phone and damaged internal components like the motherboard, this part may need replacing. Motherboard replacements typically range from $150 for basic phones to over $300 for newer iPhones.

Full device replacement: $300-$700 – For phones with extensive water damage affecting multiple components, it may be more cost effective to replace the entire device rather than repairing individual parts. The cost for a replacement phone ranges from $300 for older/basic models to over $700 for newer iPhones.

Keep in mind, costs can also vary depending on factors like phone model, repair shop, and your location. Getting an accurate estimate requires having the phone inspected by a repair professional.

Data Recovery from Water Damaged Phone

If your phone screen stops working due to water damage, recovering the data from the device may still be possible through a few methods:

Recovery software like Coolmuster Android Data Recovery can extract data directly from the phone’s storage, even if the screen is not functional. These programs connect to the phone via USB and scan the storage to recover contacts, messages, photos, videos, and other content.

For more serious water damage, professional data recovery services may be able to repair the phone enough to retrieve data. They use advanced techniques to dry out circuitry and repair components. This is an expensive option, but may be worthwhile for irreplaceable data.

If the phone cannot be recovered, but the data was previously backed up to iCloud or iTunes, it may be possible to restore a recent backup to a replacement phone. This depends on having an intact backup from before the water damage occurred.


Water can damage a phone screen in a number of ways. Direct water exposure from submersion, splashes, or moisture buildup can cause the screen to glitch, freeze, or stop responding entirely. Water intrusion into the phone can short circuit components and corrode connections. Phone screens rely on capacitive touch sensors which are highly sensitive to water.

Preventing water damage by keeping phones away from water is critical. But if an accident happens, immediately drying the phone is important to prevent permanent damage. Don’t try charging or turning on a wet phone. Use absorbent towels to wipe away excess moisture and place the phone in dry rice or a desiccant bag to draw out remaining water.

For water damaged screens that stop working, repair options include replacing just the screen or the entire phone. Professional repair services can recover data if the phone won’t power on. Water damage repairs typically range from $50 for DIY screen replacements to over $500 for professional data recovery and out-of-warranty phone replacement. With proper care and precaution, water damage can often be avoided to maintain a fully functioning phone.