How bad is water damage to an iPhone?

Water damage is one of the most common issues that can affect iPhones and other smartphones. If an iPhone is exposed to any amount of water, even a small splash, it can cause serious internal damage. But how bad is that damage really? And what specifically happens when water gets inside an iPhone?

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll look at the effects of water damage on iPhones, how different amounts of water exposure impact the phone, what components are most vulnerable, how to assess the extent of the damage, and whether or not a water-damaged iPhone can be repaired.

What happens when an iPhone gets wet?

When any amount of water comes into contact with an iPhone, it can cause immediate problems. Here’s a quick overview of what happens:

– Water can short circuit electronic components and circuit boards inside the iPhone, preventing them from working properly. This can lead to complete failure of components.

– Water causes corrosion of metal contacts and parts. This corrosion continues deteriorating connections over time.

– Water gets absorbed into components like speakers, microphones, cameras, and Taptic Engine, affecting their performance.

– Liquid residue and deposits are left behind after water dries, which can continue causing issues.

– Important sensors like fingerprint scanners can stop working properly after water exposure.

– Combination of water and electricity is hazardous and can completely fry the phone’s logic board.

How much water exposure damages an iPhone?

The amount of water exposure has a direct impact on the extent of the damage:

– Splashes or small drops of water – This limited exposure can cause intermittent or temporary problems, like speaker popping sounds or malfunctioning buttons. Damage may be reversible if phone is quickly dried.

– Quick dunks or spills – A brief submersion in water can cause more significant but localized damage. For example, it may disable microphone or charging port. Repairs may be required.

– Extended immersion – If an iPhone is immersed in water for a prolonged time, there is a high likelihood of permanent damage. Critical components like logic board, battery, and internal connectors will be affected. Very difficult to repair.

– Complete submersion – When an iPhone is fully submerged and wet inside, the damage is extensive. All electronic components and circuits will sustain heavy water damage. The phone is unlikely to work properly again.

iPhone water resistance ratings

Newer iPhone models have various levels of water resistance, according to their IP rating:

iPhone Model IP Rating Max. Depth Time Submerged
iPhone XR IP67 1 meter 30 mins
iPhone XS IP68 2 meters 30 mins
iPhone 11 IP68 2 meters 30 mins
iPhone 12 IP68 6 meters 30 mins

So newer iPhones can withstand splashes and brief water submersion better than older models. But exceeding the tested limits can still cause liquid damage.

Which iPhone components are most vulnerable to water damage?

While water can damage all electronic components in an iPhone, some parts are especially vulnerable:

Logic Board

The logic board houses the main processors, chips, and circuitry that power the iPhone. It controls all functions. If water reaches the logic board, oxidation and short circuiting can permanently disable it.


Batteries contain many points that are sensitive to liquid. Water can corrode the connections and circuitry inside the battery, causing shorts and electrical failure.

Display & Cameras

Displays and cameras have very delicate electronic elements like LEDs, filters, lenses and image sensors. Moisture buildup can interfere with their operation and distort images.

Speakers & Microphones

Speakers and microphones work by transducing signals. Water exposure reduces their ability to accurately transduce signals, leading to muffled and lower quality sound.

Connectors & Buttons

The various ports, connectors and buttons have exposed contacts that can easily corrode when wet. This interferes with their connectivity and ability to transmit signals.

How to assess water damage on an iPhone

If your iPhone has been exposed to liquid, here are some steps to evaluate the severity of the damage:

Check for external signs of water

Examine the iPhone for any visible moisture, corrosion, water deposits or stains in headphone jack, charging port, SIM tray, speakers, buttons, seams and gaps.

Power on the iPhone

Attempt to power on the iPhone as normal by holding down the side or top button. See if it turns on and works normally, or displays any error messages.

Test functionality

If the phone powers on, thoroughly test its functions. Check display, cameras, microphone, speakers, WiFi, Bluetooth, cellular signal, battery charging, vibration, buttons, fingerprint sensor etc.

Open iPhone (professionally)

If possible, have the iPhone disassembled by a qualified repair technician. They can inspect internal components like logic board, connectors and sensors for any corrosion or water damage.

Diagnostic testing

There are water damage indicator strips inside the iPhone that change color on exposure to moisture. A technician can also do more advanced diagnostics on the phone’s hardware and electrical systems.

Can a water damaged iPhone be repaired?

Whether or not an iPhone with water damage can be repaired depends on the extent of the damage:

Mild water damage

If caught quickly, mild water exposure like splashes or brief contact with moisture can often be repaired. Opening up the phone and cleaning corrosion or residues on internal components can restore normal function.

Moderate water damage

Moderate damage with some malfunctioning components may be repairable by replacing those specific parts like the battery, charging port, speakers, or buttons. This requires soldering and rework of internal parts.

Severe water damage

With major damage to critical components like the logic board, the cost and effort for repairs may exceed the value of the iPhone. It is often unfeasible to repair phones with severe liquid damage.

Liquid submersion

A fully submerged iPhone is unlikely to be economically repairable. The pervasive damage usually requires replacing most electronics, at which point it’s better to replace the entire phone.

Best practices to dry a wet iPhone

If your iPhone has sustained minor water exposure, prompt action can mitigate damage and increase chances of repair:

– Immediately power off the iPhone and avoid charging it. This prevents short circuiting.

– Remove SIM card tray and any protective case to expose all openings.

– Do not try to power on or plug in the iPhone until it is fully dry.

– Use a microfiber cloth to gently blot up excess moisture from the iPhone’s exterior, openings and ports.

– Let the iPhone dry out completely for at least 24-48 hours. Place it in front of a fan blowing room-temperature air.

– After drying, inspect for any remaining moisture before attempting to power on.

– Once fully dried out, the iPhone may be functional again. But it’s best to get it professionally assessed in case latent damage is present.

Professional water damage repair options

For moderate to severe cases of iPhone water damage, professional assistance can be required:

Local repair shops

Many independent and third-party electronics repair stores offer iPhone water damage repair services. They have the skills and tools to disassemble, clean, and replace damaged parts.

Mail-in services

Repair services like iCracked and uBreakiFix accept mailed-in devices for water damage repair. They provide free estimates, repairs, warranties, and return shipping.


Apple Stores and Authorized Service Providers can assess an iPhone’s water damage and attempt repairs if feasible. Out-of-warranty fees apply. Apple may replace very damaged iPhones.

Insurance claims

Some insurance plans like AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss cover accidental damage from liquid. You can file a claim and receive replacement or reimbursement for damaged devices.

Cost of repairing a water damaged iPhone

The cost to repair an iPhone with liquid damage varies widely based on the parts needing replacement:

Repair type Average cost
Logic board replacement $150 – $350
Battery replacement $49 – $99
Charging port replacement $25 – $50
Display replacement $129 – $279
Speaker or camera replacement $25 – $75
Full device replacement $299 – $999

Labor, diagnostic fees, and taxes can add to these costs. With severe liquid damage, the total bill may exceed the value of the iPhone.

How to prevent water damage to iPhones

While accidental spills or exposure can always occur, you can take precautions to keep iPhones away from moisture:

– Use a waterproof case or pouch when taking your iPhone near water.

– Never use an iPhone in the bathroom or near sinks and bathtubs.

– Keep drinks and other liquids away from iPhone. Use waterproof tablemats.

– In rainy weather, keep the iPhone covered in water-resistant bags or pockets.

– Never take an iPhone into pools, lakes, oceans or other bodies of water.

– Dry hands before handling iPhone, especially after washing hands or applying lotions.

– Use phone cases with port plugs that keep moisture out of charging ports.

– Avoid placing iPhone in areas that can accumulate moisture like basements.

– Set phones on absorbent, water-resistant surfaces rather than hard surfaces.


Water damage can have serious consequences for the sensitive electronics inside iPhones and other smartphones. Even a small amount of moisture can cause circuit shortages, corrosion, and component malfunctions. While newer iPhone models have improved water resistance, they are still not waterproof. Extensive exposure to liquid will necessitate expensive repairs, if the phone can be salvaged at all.

To limit damage, it’s important to dry out a wet iPhone as quickly as possible and have it assessed by a qualified technician. With mild exposure, prompt action can restore functionality in many cases. But severe water damage often requires replacement of major components or the entire device. Following prudent practices to keep iPhones away from moisture sources can prevent these costly liquid-induced damages in the first place.