What does it look like when water is in your phone?

Water and electronics don’t mix well, as anyone who has ever dropped their phone in the toilet can attest. When water gets inside your phone, it can cause all sorts of problems, from glitchy screens to complete device failure. But what exactly happens when H2O meets circuitry? Let’s take a look inside a water-damaged phone to find out.

How Does Water Get Inside Your Phone in the First Place?

There are a few common ways that water can sneak into your phone:

  • Dropping it in liquid – Toilets, sinks, baths, puddles, pools, etc.
  • Getting caught in the rain – Water can seep in through ports and gaps.
  • Spills – Knocking over a glass of water onto your phone.
  • Condensation – If you move from a cold environment to a warm, humid one, condensation can build up inside the phone.

Unless you have a water-resistant phone rated for submersion, just a small amount of water is enough to cause issues.

Where Does the Water Go Inside the Phone?

When water gets inside your phone, it has a tendency to spread out and get everywhere! The inner workings provide plenty of nooks and crannies for moisture to seep into. Some of the most vulnerable components include:

  • Screen – Water can get under the screen and interfere with the touch recognition capabilities.
  • Speakers and Microphones – These small openings allow water direct access to the inner chamber.
  • Buttons – Any physical buttons can let water through.
  • SIM Card Tray – If this isn’t properly sealed, water can sneak in.
  • Charging Port – The charging port is a major weak spot, allowing water into the inner system.
  • Headphone Jack – Similarly, the headphone jack gives water a way in.
  • Gaps and Cracks – Any small gaps in the phone’s casing can provide access points for moisture.

Even tiny amounts of water in the wrong places can lead to big problems.

How Does Water Damage a Phone?

Water can damage your phone in a few key ways:

Short Circuits

One of the biggest risks is short circuits. Water can cause electrical current to flow in unintended ways, which can permanently damage phone components like the logic board or microprocessors. Even small amounts of water can bridge connections and create shorts.


Many phone components, like the electrical contacts, are made from metals that can corrode when they come into contact with moisture. Corrosion can disrupt electrical signals and connections.

Mineral Deposits

As water evaporates, it can leave behind mineral deposits from substances like calcium and limestone. These deposits can interfere with electrical connections, signals and sensitivity.

Component Degradation

Direct water exposure can degrade many phone components, like the battery, microphones, speakers and cameras. Components that rely on carefully calibrated electrical signals tend to be most affected. Degradation can be rapid.

Growth of Mold or Bacteria

If moisture gets trapped inside your phone, it can allow mold, mildew or bacteria to grow. These substances can permanently stain or damage phone components.

Signs of Water Damage

How do you know if water sneaked into your phone? Here are some telltale signs of water damage:

  • Glitchy, flickering or unresponsive screen
  • Distorted speakers and microphones
  • Buttons or ports that stop working
  • Muffled or echoey voice audio
  • Camera becoming scratched or cloudy
  • Presence of moisture or condensation under screen
  • Visible corrosion around ports, buttons or SIM tray

The phone may work okay at first. But as corrosion advances, you’ll start experiencing more serious malfunctions, crashes and errors.

What Does the Inside of a Water Damaged Phone Look Like?

When a phone is opened up, the extent of the water damage becomes clear. Here are some sights you might see:

Visible Water Stains

You may see water stains around the components, connectors and logic board. This indicates water got inside and left behind traces as it dried.

Water Stain Rating Severity
Light Stains Low-moderate damage
Dark Stains Moderate-high damage
Thick Mineral Deposits Severe damage

Corrosion Buildup

You might see light or severe corrosion around port connectors, audio components or the SIM tray. This can range from greenish oxidation to thick mineral deposits.

Degraded Components

Some components may appear visibly damaged, melted or degraded from water exposure. For example, the battery may be swollen or leaking.

Mold Growth

In severe cases with prolonged trapped moisture, black or white mold growth may be visible on internal components. This causes irreparable damage.

Erosion of Adhesives

The adhesives holding components in place may appear eroded or loose if soaked by water. This can cause detached connectors and loose parts.

Internal Damage by Phone Part

Let’s take a closer look at how different phone parts can appear when water damaged:

Logic Board

The logic board may show corrosion, mineral buildup and erosion of protective coatings. Water can short circuit the data paths. This is often catastrophic damage.

SIM Card Tray

The SIM card and surrounding tray often have corrosion or mineral deposit accumulations if exposed to moisture. The contacts may appear discolored or coated.


Batteries may appear swollen, leaky or have visible corrosion. The fragile battery chemistry is disrupted by water, which can cause shorts. Water exposure needs immediate battery replacement.

Screen and Digitizer

Screens can appear hazy, scratched or bubbled when moisture gets trapped beneath and interacts with the screen coatings. This causes visual artifacts.


Cameras are delicate and water can permanently fog or scratch the lens and damage the image sensor, ruining photo/video quality. The camera module often needs replacement.

Speakers and Mics

These audio components often show corrosion on the electrical contacts. Mineral buildup interferes with the sound transmission, causing muffling and distortion.

Can a Water-Damaged Phone Be Saved?

For light exposure with minimal corrosion, thoroughly drying out the phone can eliminate the water damage, if done quickly. However, moderate-to-severe water damage often requires:

  • Disassembly and cleaning of components
  • Replacement of degraded parts like the battery
  • Logic board repair
  • Full component replacements

With severe damage, the cost of repairs may exceed the value of the phone. Water damage is very challenging to properly fix. For extensive moisture exposure, it’s often better to replace the phone entirely if possible.

Some tips to give your phone the best chance of survival:

  • Dry it out immediately by blotting and placing in rice
  • Don’t try charging it until fully dry, this can cause short circuits
  • Have repairs done quickly by professional technicians to prevent further corrosion
  • Be prepared to replace components like the battery

With prompt attention, there’s a chance of saving phones from light or moderate water damage. But severe exposure often spells the end for a phone’s functionality. Opening up water damaged phones reveals extensive internal corrosion, mineralization, erosion, mold growth and permanent component damage.

Preventing Water Damage

To avoid water damage in the first place:

  • Use a waterproof case for trips to the pool, beach or lake
  • Never charge your phone near a sink or bath
  • Avoid placing phones near drinks
  • Only use your phone when hands are dry
  • Keep phones away from lawns when wet from rain or irrigation
  • Get a phone with IP67 or higher water resistance rating

Water is often a phone’s worst enemy! With vigilance, you can try to keep this deadly liquid far away from your phone’s delicate inner workings.


Getting drenched by water can quickly lead to devastating damage inside your phone. Corrosion, mineral deposits, mold growth, component degradation and short circuits are seen when opening up a water-exposed phone. While light damage is sometimes reversible with immediate care, heavy exposure usually requires extensive repair or replacement of the phone. Keep your phone safe from moisture to avoid this costly damage scenario! We also recommend that you backup your phone regularly to avoid permanent data loss if your phone does suffer water damage.

Follow the tips we’ve presented here to help protect your phone from hazardous water, and know the signs of water damage when they arise. With proper precautions, you can maximize the lifespan of your trusty mobile device and avoid untimely water damage related breakdowns. Protect your investment by safeguarding it from contact with this destructive liquid!

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