Why is my iPhone screen black but still on after water damage?

It can be worrying when your iPhone screen suddenly goes black and unresponsive after getting wet, but the device might not be completely broken. There are a few reasons why your iPhone may display a black screen after water exposure, even though it is still powered on.

Liquid Damage Triggers Automatic Shutoff

Recent iPhone models feature water damage sensors inside the housing. These sensors are tiny strips that detect moisture. When the strips get wet, they change color and trigger an automatic shutoff of the iPhone’s screen and touch functionality. This safety measure helps prevent short circuits and fires when liquids enter the phone’s interior.

So if your iPhone’s screen goes black shortly after getting splashed or submerged in water, it’s likely due to the water damage sensors triggering the automatic shutdown. The phone itself is still receiving power and functioning normally otherwise.

Water in Proximity/Ambient Light Sensor

Another possibility is that a bit of water made its way under the screen and reached the proximity or ambient light sensor. These tiny sensors are located in the thin bezel above the screen. They detect when your face is close to the iPhone during calls, and adjust the screen brightness based on ambient lighting conditions.

If water infiltrates these light sensors, it can interfere with their readings and cause the iPhone to shut off the display as a precaution. The screen goes black, but the phone is still getting power. Once the water evaporates, the sensors should start working normally again.

Short Circuit Shutoff

It’s also possible that a short circuit caused by water triggers an emergency shutoff of the iPhone display. If liquid gets on the internal logic board or reaches other electronics under the screen, it can create a temporary short circuit between components. Your iPhone will instantly cut power to the display to prevent damage to the system.

In this scenario, your iPhone screen will go black but the phone will remain on. This is a built-in safe mode to protect the internal hardware from shorts. Once the water dries out, the short circuit is removed and the screen can turn back on.

Ways to Fix Black Screen After Water Damage

If your iPhone is still on but displaying a black screen due to water exposure, don’t panic yet. Here are some steps to take which may resolve the issue:

Dry it Thoroughly

If your phone got splashed or lightly wet, thoroughly drying it can allow normal function to return. Make sure to pat dry any excess moisture with a soft cloth. Then let the phone sit for at least 24 hours to allow any lingering moisture underneath or behind the screen to evaporate.

Use Rice to Absorb Moisture

Submerging the iPhone in uncooked rice can help extract water from the device. Rice acts as a desiccant – it naturally absorbs ambient moisture. Bury the wet iPhone in a bowl of rice for at least 48 hours. The rice will slowly pull out water from the phone’s interior and ports.

Try Forced Restart

Press and hold the Power and Volume Down buttons simultaneously for at least 10 seconds to force restart your iPhone. This may clear any glitches or resets caused by water exposure. If the black screen was due to sensors or a temporary short, a forced reboot should resolve it.

Connect to Power

Make sure to connect your water damaged iPhone to power. Being plugged into power may activate emergency recovery modes that could turn the screen back on after a blackout. Let the phone charge for a few hours while drying out.

Let it Dry Longer

It can sometimes take 72 hours or longer for moisture inside an iPhone to evaporate completely. Be patient and allow your iPhone to dry out for several days before attempting to use it again. Extended drying time will ensure any internal moisture has dissipated.

Check for Signs of Life

If the black screen persists, check if your iPhone still shows other signs of functionality. Things like sound notifications, vibration alerts, or feeling it get warm while charging indicate it’s still working despite the black display.

When to Get Professional Repair

While many water-related black screen issues can be fixed with drying and resets, liquid damage may require professional repair in some instances, such as:

  • Phone was submerged or soaked (not just splashed)
  • Water got inside the housing or components
  • Screen stays black even after thorough drying
  • Visible corrosion or damage on logic board
  • Phone won’t power on at all

Severe water exposure can short circuit electronic components and damage internal parts. Taking the phone to a repair shop allows a technician to open it up, clean any corrosion, replace damaged parts, and properly ensure everything is dry.

Steps a Repair Shop Takes

An iPhone repair technician has specialized tools and methods for addressing water damage issues. Here are some of the steps they can take:

Repair Step Details
Opening the phone Taking apart the iPhone to access inner components and dry out the interior
Cleaning corrosion Using isopropyl alcohol to gently clean away corrosion buildup from logic board
Assessing damage Checking for shorted out or malfunctioning internal parts that need replacement
Letting dry Giving phone 24-48 hours minimum to fully dry before reassembly
Replacing parts Installing new Lightning port, SIM card slot, volume control, or other damaged components
Recalibrating sensors Resetting and recalibrating the ambient light and proximity sensors
Testing phone Making sure phone functions properly before returning to owner

A reputable repair shop with microsoldering equipment can properly diagnose and fix various issues caused by liquid damage. This gives you the best chance for restoring full functionality after a wet incident.

When to Replace the iPhone

Unfortunately, some very old iPhones may not be worth repairing after water damage, especially if other issues were already present. Replacement is recommended if:

  • Phone is over 5 years old
  • Prior damage like cracked screens exists
  • Cost of comprehensive repair exceeds replacement cost
  • Internal components are too corroded to save

Given the low cost of obtaining a used or refurbished iPhone 8 or newer models, replacement becomes the better option if your current phone is very old and already had problems before water damage occurred.

Preventing Water Damage to iPhones

While accidental spills or drops in water can always happen unexpectedly, there are ways to minimize exposure and reduce the chance of water damage to your iPhone:

  • Use a protective case for added impact and splash resistance
  • Avoid exposing iPhone to rain, sprinklers, etc.
  • Keep away from sinks, tubs, pools, puddles, and other wet areas
  • Never shower or bathe with your phone
  • Turn off and store the phone in a dry place when doing water activities
  • Place phone in a zip-lock bag when taking photos near water
  • Always completely dry hands before handling iPhone

Making smart use choices and limiting direct water contact whenever possible reduces the chance your iPhone’s screen will turn black after getting wet.


An iPhone with a black display after water damage does not necessarily mean the phone is broken beyond repair. In many cases, drying out the phone fully and/or professional cleaning of any corrosion is enough to restore normal operation. The key is act quickly after an incident to maximize the chances of reviving your water-damaged iPhone.