What are the liquid indicators on my iPhone?

iPhones contain small liquid contact indicators that are designed to detect the presence of liquid inside the device. These indicators are very important for determining potential water damage, which can impact the functionality and warranty status of an iPhone.

What do the liquid indicators look like?

The liquid contact indicators on an iPhone are very small and can be difficult to see. They are located in the sim card slot, headphone jack (on older models), and other internal components. The indicators appear as small white or pink stickers or tabs. When dry, they will remain white/pink. When exposed to liquid, they turn red or pink.

Where are the liquid indicators located?

Here are the most common locations for the liquid contact indicators in different iPhone models:

  • iPhone X, XS, 11 – SIM card tray, logic board
  • iPhone XR, SE (2nd gen) – SIM card tray
  • iPhone 8, 7 – SIM card tray, logic board, headphone jack
  • iPhone 6S, 6S Plus – SIM card tray, logic board, headphone jack
  • iPhone 6, 6 Plus – SIM card tray, logic board, headphone jack

What happens when liquid is detected?

When the liquid contact indicators detect the presence of liquid, they will turn from white/pink to red or pink. This color change is irreversible. It alerts Apple technicians that liquid has gotten inside your iPhone at some point.

Exposure to liquid can cause corrosion and damage to internal components. Even after drying out, residual deposits can impact the logic board and electrical connections. Liquid damage is not covered by Apple’s warranty, so a red/pink indicator will void your warranty status.

What types of liquids can activate the indicators?

The liquid contact indicators are very sensitive by design. They are calibrated to detect very small amounts of liquid. The following types of liquids can cause the indicators to be triggered:

  • Water
  • Sweat
  • Rain
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Soda
  • Alcohol
  • Shampoo
  • Soap
  • Humidity/condensation

It does not take much liquid at all for the indicators to be activated. Just a small amount of moisture or humidity over time can cause the color to change. The indicators are so sensitive that even high humidity can trigger them in some cases.

Can you reset or dry out a liquid indicator?

Unfortunately, once a liquid indicator has turned pink/red it cannot be reversed. The color change is permanent. There is no way to “reset” or “dry out” the indicators.

Some people try methods like using a hairdryer to dry the indicator, but this will not change it back to the original color. The only option is to replace any triggered liquid contact indicators.

Should you replace a triggered liquid indicator?

If the indicator has been triggered on your iPhone, it is probably best to have it replaced. Here are some benefits of replacing liquid indicators:

  • Returns indicator to original white/pink color
  • Can help avoid warranty issues if iPhone needs future repair
  • Makes it easier to detect any new exposure to liquid
  • Gives you peace of mind knowing your iPhone is dry internally

The biggest reason to replace a triggered indicator is to reset the warranty status. If Apple opens up your iPhone for repair later on, the warranty will be voided if liquid damage is apparent.

How to replace a liquid contact indicator

Replacing liquid indicators requires opening up the iPhone to access the internal components. It should only be done by an experienced repair technician.

Here is an overview of the process:

  1. Open iPhone and disassemble components to access logic board
  2. Locate all liquid contact indicator tabs that have turned pink/red
  3. Carefully peel back each triggered indicator tab
  4. Clean and dry the component surface underneath
  5. Apply new replacement liquid contact indicator tabs
  6. Reassemble iPhone

Each indicator is just a small adhesive tab or sticker. The new replacements can be purchased cheaply in bulk. Proper tools, training, and experience are needed to disassemble the iPhone and replace them without any damage.

Cost to replace liquid contact indicators

The cost to replace liquid contact indicators varies depending on how many need to be switched out. In general, you can expect to pay:

  • $30 – $70 to replace one or two indicators
  • $70 – $120 to replace three to five indicators
  • $120+ to replace six or more indicators

Some repair shops charge per indicator, such as $15 – $20 per tab replaced. The total cost scales up quickly if multiple indicators were triggered.

Alternatives to replacing liquid indicators

If you do not want to pay to have the liquid contact indicators replaced, here are a couple alternative options:

  • Do nothing – You can leave the triggered indicators as-is. Just be aware it may void warranty or impact future service.
  • Hide indicators – Some shops can hide the indicators behind a waterproof sealant so they cannot be seen if the iPhone is opened later.

However, keep in mind that these do not actually reset the indicators or address any potential liquid damage. Replacing the indicators is the only way to properly restore them.

Preventing liquid contact indicators from triggering

Here are some tips to help prevent triggering the liquid contact indicators in your iPhone:

  • Use a waterproof case for wet environments like the pool or beach.
  • Keep iPhone away from excess moisture and humidity.
  • Never submerge or expose iPhone to pressurized water flow.
  • Avoid large spills – quickly dry any small liquid splashes.
  • Don’t use iPhone in the bathroom while showering.
  • Turn on airplane mode before workouts to prevent sweat damage.

A bit of care and precaution goes a long way in avoiding liquid damage. But accidents can happen, so be prepared for the cost of replacement if an indicator does get triggered.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I trigger the indicators without getting the phone wet?

It’s very difficult to trigger the indicators without actual liquid contact. High humidity alone does not normally trigger them. Something wet would need to directly touch the tab to turn it pink/red.

Do liquid indicators expire over time?

The liquid contact indicators are designed to not degrade or expire over time. As long as they stay dry, they should maintain the original white/pink color for the lifespan of the iPhone.

Can Apple deny service for a triggered indicator?

Yes, Apple considers liquid contact a form of accidental damage not covered under warranty. If any indicators are triggered, they can legally deny service or charge out of warranty fees.

Do all iPhones have the same indicator placements?

The locations vary slightly between models, but are generally near points of potential liquid ingress like the SIM tray, charging port, headphone jack, etc. Technicians are trained on the exact placements for each model.

Can liquid indicators be replaced by third parties?

Yes, many reputable third party repair shops offer liquid indicator replacement services. The only requirement is having trained technicians able to properly disassemble the iPhone without causing damage.


The liquid contact indicators in iPhones serve an important role in detecting water damage issues. If you see red/pink indicators instead of white/pink, it means liquid was able to ingress and impact internal components at some point. Replacing the indicators can reset the water damage status and warranty eligibility if desired. With proper precautions, you can avoid triggering the indicators through liquid exposure. But accidents happen, so be prepared for potential indicator replacement costs down the road.