How can you tell if there is water in your phone?

If your phone has been exposed to water, there are a few signs you can look for to determine if liquid has gotten inside the device. Acting quickly is important to give your phone the best chance of survival.

What are the signs of water damage in a phone?

Here are some of the most common indications that water may have infiltrated your phone:

  • The phone won’t turn on or continuously reboots
  • The screen flickers, displays distorted/discolored images, or part of the touchscreen doesn’t work
  • Buttons or ports don’t respond when pressed
  • You see an error message about liquid or corrosion
  • You hear popping or crackling noises from the speakers
  • The camera has trouble focusing or produces blurry photos
  • The battery charges slowly or drains faster than usual
  • You notice fogging or moisture underneath the screen glass

Basically, any functionality problems, visual irregularities, odd noises or moisture inside the phone could signify water damage. The more issues you notice, the more likely it is that fluid has affected multiple internal components.

How does water get inside a phone in the first place?

There are a few common ways that water can make its way into a smartphone:

  • Getting splashed or briefly submerged – Even a small splash or quick dip can be enough for moisture to get through cracks and openings.
  • Falling into a body of water – Dropping a phone into a sink, toilet, puddle or other water source allows liquid to fully penetrate the device.
  • Getting caught in heavy rain – Phone aren’t necessarily waterproof. Getting soaked in a storm can cause water to seep in.
  • Condensation buildup – Going from cold air to warm humid air and back can cause condensation inside the phone which leads to water damage over time.
  • Liquid spills – Accidentally spilling a drink or other liquid onto a phone is an obvious way water can get inside.
  • Using it in the shower/bath – Despite some phones having water resistant designs, they may not be able to withstand direct exposure to showers or baths.

The point of entry is often through the ports, headphones jack, openings between buttons, speaker grill or gaps in the glass and body. Once inside, that moisture can get trapped and corrode the electronics.

How to check a phone for water damage

If you suspect your phone has water damage but aren’t sure, here are some steps to take to inspect it more closely:

  1. Remove any protective case, which can trap moisture against the phone.
  2. Check for visible moisture or fogging under the screen glass, around the camera lens or in other crevices.
  3. Look for oxidation or corrosion around ports, connectors and SIM card tray.
  4. Shine a flashlight into different openings to check for water deposits or damage.
  5. Examine any water-reactive stickers – usually white or pink circles that turn red when wet.
  6. Backup your data and test the phone’s basic functions like powering on, charging, making calls, using buttons, cameras, WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.
  7. If possible, remove the back cover to inspect the battery and interior components for moisture buildup.

The more evidence of fluid intrusion and functionality issues you discover, the more likely liquid has damaged internal parts. If basic use proves unreliable, it’s safer to assume water has corrupted the system.

Factors that influence water damage

Several variables affect how much harm water can cause inside a smartphone:

  • Amount of liquid – The more water that gets in, the worse the damage. Small splashes may only cause minor issues while full submersion often ruins phones.
  • Water pressure – High pressure streams of water can push through small openings and penetrate further into the phone.
  • Duration of exposure – The longer a phone sits in liquid, the more components get compromised as moisture spreads.
  • Water contaminants – Saltwater, chlorinated water and other liquids often corrode and short circuit electronics worse than plain water.
  • Heat – High temperatures accelerate evaporation which leaves behind mineral deposits that can conduct electricity.
  • Device design – How sealed the phone is and locations of ports/buttons impacts how much water can enter and where it goes.
  • Phone condition – Existing damage like cracked screens or worn seals allows more moisture to penetrate the phone.

Understanding these factors can help you assess how badly your phone may be affected if exposed to liquids. The combination of high volume of water, extended soaking time, added contaminants and a damaged device would result in severe damage, for example.

What to do if your phone gets wet

If your phone has been exposed to moisture, prompt action is key to potentially saving it:

  1. Dry it off – Remove as much external water as possible with a dry soft cloth. Don’t try to shake it dry as that can spread water internally.
  2. Don’t charge it – Don’t plug it in, as this can short circuit the device if water is still present.
  3. Turn it off – Power down the phone to minimize electronic activity and corrosion.
  4. Remove covers/cards – Take off any protective cases, removable batteries and SIM cards.
  5. Use absorbing materials – Bury the phone in dry rice, kitty litter or silica gel to help draw moisture out.
  6. Don’t use heat sources – Avoid hair dryers, stoves, heaters etc. which can melt phone components.
  7. Let it dry 3+ days – Allow plenty of time to air dry before testing if it still works.

The goal is to get as much water out and limit corrosion until you can properly assess the damage. If you act fast, you may be able to revive a waterlogged phone, but if you already notice signs of malfunction it may require professional repair.

Water damage repair options

If your phone won’t power on or is clearly damaged after getting wet, you have a few options to try and salvage it:

  • Take it to a phone repair shop – They have tools to open up devices and dry out and replace damaged parts.
  • Use a moisture absorber kit – Products with hydroscopic beads pull water out of phones.
  • Contact the manufacturer – Some brands have water damage repair programs through mail-in services.
  • Use silica gel packs – Keep the phone and several packs sealed in a bag for a few days.
  • Disassemble and dry it – If you’re technically skilled, take the phone apart and dry components individually.

The more complex the phone (like those with glass backs, flexible displays, etc.), the lower the chance of DIY repairs succeeding. For valuable devices, professional repair services may be worth the cost.

Can you fix a phone after water damage?

Water damage doesn’t necessarily mean a phone is beyond saving. The degree of success depends on:

  • How quickly you take action after exposure to liquid.
  • How much moisture infiltrated the phone.
  • Which components got compromised.
  • The drying method used.
  • Whether corrosion has started dissolving connections.

If caught early, drying out a phone can protect it from permanent harm. Devices that sat in water for hours or days have lower odds of working. Component-level repairs may be needed if moisture reached the logic board or other electronics. In severe cases of corrosion, the damage can be impossible to reverse.

So try to dry your phone ASAP if it gets wet. Just powering it up prematurely can short circuit and ruin it. Patience is required as drying can take 72 hours or longer. There are no guarantees, but quick action gives you the best chance.

Preventing water damage to phones

While drying out a phone is sometimes possible, prevention is always better. Here are smart ways to avoid water damage in the first place:

  • Use a waterproof case when going near water.
  • Avoid using your phone in the rain, shower etc.
  • Keep your phone away from sinks and bathtubs.
  • Take care not to drop it into puddles or toilets.
  • Keep drinks and other liquids away from your phone.
  • Be extra careful around pools, oceans and other bodies of water.
  • Never try to charge a wet phone.

Treating your phone as non-waterproof reduces the chances of fluid ingress. Also inspect the water-reactive stickers regularly – their color indicates if moisture got inside. With some simple precautions, you can avoid the hassle and cost of drying out or replacing a water-damaged phone.


Liquid and electronics don’t mix well, and a phone that gets wet might start exhibiting odd behaviors, damage or complete failure. Telltale signs of water exposure include moisture under the screen, issues like freezing or glitching during use, and corrosion around ports and openings. The sooner you can dry out the device after getting it wet, the better your chances of reviving it. While you can sometimes fix a water damaged phone yourself, prevention is always preferable to a costly mishap or repair. Be mindful of how you use your phone around water and take sensible precautions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the first signs of water damage on a smartphone?

Some early signs of water damage include the phone not turning on, glitchy or distorted visuals, non-responsive buttons, and muffled or popping sounds from the speakers. Moisture buildup inside the phone can quickly lead to full failure.

Can rice actually dry out a wet phone?

Yes, burying a wet phone in uncooked rice can help extract moisture. Rice absorbs ambient humidity, so as it sits sealed with a phone it will gradually pull water from inside the device. Allow at least 24-48 hours for sufficient drying time.

Is it safe to charge a phone that got wet?

Never try to charge a phone that has gotten wet recently. The moisture present can short circuit the phone when power is applied. Only try charging after thorough drying and inspection.

Can I use my phone after it was dropped in water?

You should avoid using a phone that has been submerged or exposed to liquid until it has been powered off, thoroughly dried out, and checked for proper function. Using it prematurely risks short circuiting and permanent damage.

What liquids cause the worst water damage?

Saltwater, chlorinated water from pools, and beverages containing minerals are especially corrosive to electronics. Clean freshwater causes less damage, but still poses a risk if enough gets inside the phone.

Key Takeaways

  • Common signs of water damage include glitching screens, no power, muffled sound, and moisture inside ports or under screens.
  • Phones can get wet from splashes, falls in liquid, rain, spills, condensation, and accidents in the bathroom.
  • Inspect phones closely, especially internally, for visible moisture and corrosion if water exposure is suspected.
  • The amount of water, length of exposure, contaminants, and phone condition all affect severity of damage.
  • Act quickly to dry out a wet phone with absorbing materials like rice and avoid using heat.
  • Professional repairs may be needed for phones that won’t power on or have sat in water too long.
  • Careful handling of phones around water and protective cases can prevent many liquid-related damages.
Water exposure scenario Level of risk What to do
Small splash Low Dry it off and monitor for issues
Quick dip in water Moderate Dry it thoroughly before powering back on
Fell into toilet High Don’t use it. Dry it out for at least 3 days.
Heavy rain Moderate Wipe down exterior moisture. Check for internal moisture.
Spilled drink on it High if liquid entered ports/buttons Dry it off but don’t power on until completely dry
Used in the shower Extremely High Don’t try to power on. Dry it extensively before testing.