Why is my iPhone 12 not turning on after water?

Finding your shiny new iPhone 12 suddenly dead after coming into contact with water can be an incredibly stressful and frustrating situation. Water exposure is one of the most common ways that iPhones get damaged, even though modern iPhones like the iPhone 12 have some degree of water resistance. When an iPhone 12 won’t turn on after getting wet, it immediately raises worries of potential water damage, costly repairs, and lost data. This guide covers the possible causes of an unresponsive iPhone 12 after water exposure and steps you can take to diagnose the issue, attempt fixes, and seek professional repair if needed. With some luck and the right approach, you may be able to revive your iPhone and avoid permanent damage.

Possible Water Damage

Water can cause significant damage to the sensitive electronic components inside an iPhone. The main ways water exposure can prevent an iPhone from turning on include:

  • Corrosion – When water gets inside the iPhone, it can cause corrosion of the circuitry and metal contacts. As corrosion builds up, it can prevent electrical connections from working properly, disrupting power and signal flows.

  • Short Circuits – Water can cause short circuits between components that are not meant to connect. This can completely disrupt the phone’s logic board and processor. Short circuits often lead to permanent damage.

  • Interference – Water can interfere with the touch screen functionality, buttons, speakers and other components. This disruption prevents the proper electrical signals from registering.

  • Oxidation – Exposure to water leads to oxidation on many iPhone components, which can coat and degrade connectors and disrupt power delivery. Oxidation gradually causes permanent damage over time.

In most cases of water exposure, the sensitive electronics suffer damage affecting multiple systems simultaneously. Even a small amount of water can eventually lead to complete failure of an iPhone.

Check for Physical Damage

If your iPhone 12 has been exposed to water, one of the first steps is to thoroughly inspect it for any signs of physical damage. Look closely around ports, buttons, speakers and other openings for any fogging, condensation, corrosion, or staining from liquid exposure.

Examine the Lightning port at the bottom and headphone jack (if applicable) for any rust coloring or noticeable water residue. Also check the speakers on the bottom edge and earpiece/front camera on the top front face for similar damage.

Water exposure can cause corrosion over time which may not be immediately visible. But any noticeable discoloration, fogging, or condensation inside the phone can be a sign of water damage. Be sure to also check any included accessories like headphones in case liquid managed to enter those openings.

Attempt Drying Methods

If your iPhone 12 will not turn on after getting wet, one of the first things to try is drying it thoroughly before attempting to power it on again. There are a few different methods you can attempt to dry out your iPhone:

One of the most popular methods is to submerge the iPhone in a bowl or bag of uncooked rice. Rice is hygroscopic, meaning it absorbs moisture. Burying the iPhone in rice for 24-48 hours may allow enough time for the rice to absorb any moisture inside the phone. Be sure to remove any case from the iPhone before placing in rice so the rice can access all areas.[1]

Similarly, you can use silica gel packs instead of rice. Silica gel is designed to absorb moisture, so it may work better than rice. Place the phone and several silica gel packs in a sealable plastic bag for 1-2 days.

You may also try leaving the iPhone in direct sunlight or blowing air over it with a fan. The sunlight and airflow will help evaporate any water still inside the phone. Let it air dry for at least 24 hours before attempting to power on.

The key is allowing enough time to thoroughly dry out the iPhone before taking any other steps. If possible, wait 48-72 hours before attempting to turn on your iPhone after getting it wet.

Verifying Condition

After attempting to dry out the iPhone, it’s important to thoroughly verify its condition before taking further steps. There are a few key things to check:

Try plugging the iPhone into a charger and see if it will power on while connected. If it only powers on while charging, that’s a sign there may be lingering damage.

Also check if the iPhone feels abnormally warm or hot when charging or powered on. Excessive heat can indicate short circuiting or other hardware issues due to water exposure.

Use the iPhone for a period of time and take note if it randomly powers off or reboots on its own. Frequent sudden powering off can signal potential water damage.

Visually inspect the iPhone’s ports and speakers for any corrosion or residue left behind after water exposure. Damage in these areas can cause power issues.

Lastly, backup your data if possible before the phone loses power. Water damage may make data recovery difficult if the phone stops working entirely.

Thoroughly checking the phone’s charging ability, temperature, stability, hardware and data integrity can help verify the extent of any lingering water damage.

Reset the iPhone

Before attempting any repairs, you’ll want to reset your iPhone to see if that resolves the issue. Here’s how to reset your iPhone 12:

  1. Connect your iPhone to a computer using the provided USB cable. Open iTunes or Finder if prompted.
  2. While connected, force restart your iPhone by quickly pressing and releasing the volume up button, quickly pressing and releasing the volume down button, then press and hold the side button until you see the Apple logo. This will hard reset your device.
  3. When your iPhone restarts, it will show a Connect to iTunes screen. Select Restore and choose Restore iPhone. This will erase your iPhone and reinstall the latest iOS software.

Resetting your iPhone will wipe all data and restore it to factory default settings. Before resetting, make sure you have backups of any data you want to keep. If your iPhone is still having issues after resetting, it likely has hardware damage and will need repairs.

Apple Support Options

If your iPhone is still under Apple’s 1 year limited warranty or you have AppleCare+ coverage, you may be able to get your iPhone repaired or replaced through Apple Support. However, Apple’s warranty does not cover liquid damage. Out of warranty replacement fees for an iPhone 12 through Apple due to liquid damage start at $549 for a new device. Repair fees start at $449 (Apple Support, 2022).

To start the replacement or repair process for liquid damage, you’ll need to contact Apple Support online or by phone. They will walk through troubleshooting steps, and then likely advise you to take your iPhone to an Apple Store or Apple Authorized Service Provider for evaluation. If water damage is confirmed, you’ll be presented with the out of warranty repair or replacement fees. Apple also offers AppleCare+ plans that provide additional accidental damage coverage for an additional monthly fee (Apple Support, 2022).

If the water indicators in your iPhone are triggered, Apple will not cover any repairs under warranty and will charge out of warranty fees. You can attempt to dispute liquid damage if you believe it was incorrectly diagnosed. But Apple Support will not override a positive liquid contact indicator (Apple Support, 2022).

Third Party Repair

If the water damage to your iPhone 12 is severe, you may need to take it to an independent repair shop that specializes in water damage repair. There are many reputable third party shops that have expertise working on water damaged iPhones.

According to Cell Phone Repair, their technicians can often revive water damaged iPhones, rescue data, and replace any parts that are damaged. They offer affordable repair costs compared to Apple.

Other well reviewed independent iPhone repair shops like iFixios and uBreakiFix also provide quality water damage repair services for iPhones. They have techs experienced in disassembling iPhones and cleaning or replacing any parts corroded by liquid. This can often successfully repair an iPhone with water damage and bring it back to functioning normally.

The key when choosing an independent repair shop is to read reviews and make sure they have expertise specifically with water damage. A qualified technician should be able to diagnose the extent of the damage, thoroughly dry out and clean the device, and replace any damaged parts.

Data Recovery

If the iPhone suffers permanent water damage and does not power back on, you may need to utilize professional data recovery services to retrieve your data. This is especially important if you did not have a recent backup of your iPhone and the data is not stored elsewhere.

Data recovery services work by physically opening the iPhone and removing the internal storage chip, then extracting the data using specialized equipment and software. This bypasses any software issues caused by water damage and allows access to your photos, messages, contacts and other data directly from the hardware.

Reputable companies like Rossmann Repair Group and SalvageData offer professional iPhone data recovery with high success rates. The process can be expensive, often $500-1000+, but may be the only option for recovering irreplaceable data from a dead iPhone.

When sending your iPhone for data recovery, be sure to research companies thoroughly and read reviews. Only use a specialized service with experience successfully recovering data from iOS devices. Handle and ship the phone carefully to avoid any further damage. Back up any recovered data immediately, and consider investing in a waterproof case for the future.

Waterproof Cases

One of the best ways to prevent water damage to your iPhone in the future is to use a waterproof case or bag. There are many good options available that allow full use of the iPhone’s touchscreen and features while protecting it from water.

Some top waterproof cases to consider include the Lanhiem iPhone 12 Case, SPIDERCASE Waterproof Case, and LifeProof FRE. These cases allow the iPhone to be submerged in water up to 6 meters deep for 30-60 minutes.

There are also waterproof pouches and bags like JOTO Universal Waterproof Phone Pouch that keep the iPhone dry during activities near water. Just make sure to get a case or pouch specifically designed for your iPhone 12 model so it fits properly.

Investing in a waterproof case or pouch provides great peace of mind and can prevent the need for expensive repairs if your iPhone gets wet. They allow you to use your phone worry-free while swimming, boating, at the beach and more. Just make sure to test it out first before full submersion.