Will my phone stop working if I dropped it in water?

Dropping your phone in water can be a scary experience. You might immediately worry that your phone is broken or will stop working. The good news is that phones are designed with some water resistance these days. Whether your phone continues working after getting wet depends on a few key factors.

Quick Answer

It’s possible for a phone to keep working after being dropped in water briefly if it’s removed and dried quickly. However, water exposure can damage a phone over time. Immediately power off and dry a wet phone to give it the best chance of working.

Does Water Damage a Phone Instantly?

Water doesn’t necessarily damage a phone instantly. Today’s smartphones have some level of water resistance due to internal coatings and seals designed to keep out moisture. However, no phone is 100% waterproof. Given enough time in water, moisture will get into a phone and cause issues.

When a phone is dropped in water, the real damage happens when electricity mixes with water. If the phone is immediately retrieved and powered off, a phone might escape without any issues. This gives you time to properly dry it out.

Water and Electricity Don’t Mix

Electricity and water are a dangerous combination for smartphones. If a phone is powered on when exposed to water, it could short circuit and fry the phone’s components. That’s why it’s critical to power off the phone right away if it gets wet.

Powering off the phone eliminates the risk of electrical shorts as long as it stays out of the water. This buys you time to dry it thoroughly before testing it again.

Moisture Causes Corrosion Over Time

Even if no shorts occur, the water itself can still damage a phone. Water promotes corrosion of metallic electrical contacts and openings on a printed circuit board.

Corrosion from moisture buildup can cause malfunctions, shorts, and total failure over time. The longer moisture is present inside a phone, the more damage it can cause.

Factors That Affect Water Damage

Several key factors determine the chances of a phone surviving water exposure:

Phone Model and Water Resistance Rating

Newer high-end smartphones often have some level of water resistance indicated by an IP rating. This measures how well sealed the phone is against dust and water intrusion. The higher the number, the better.

For example, IP67 or IP68 ratings allow submersion for 30 minutes in 1-3 meters of water. Other phones with lower or no ratings are much more vulnerable to water damage.

Time Submerged

The less time a phone spends in water, the better. A quick dunk has a higher chance of survival compared to several minutes of submersion which allows more water intrusion.

Depth Underwater

Greater water pressure makes it easier for moisture to penetrate seals and openings. Deeper water increases this pressure, raising water damage risk.

Temperature of Water

Warmer water temperatures tend to reduce viscosity compared to colder water. This allows moisture to seep into tiny crevices easier. Temperature extremes also stress electronic components.

Fresh Water vs Salt Water

Salt water is more conductive than fresh water and can short circuit a phone’s components faster. Any residual salt left behind as water dries also promotes corrosion.

Quick Action to Remove and Dry

As soon as possible after water exposure, you’ll want to power off the phone, remove it from the water, and dry it thoroughly. This helps minimize any immediate and long-term water damage.

Signs Your Phone Suffered Water Damage

How can you tell if water caused damage to your phone? Here are some symptoms:

  • Phone won’t turn on or charge
  • Blurry camera
  • Speakers sound muffled
  • Microphone stops working
  • Headphone jack doesn’t work
  • Buttons and touchscreen become unresponsive
  • Discoloration, moisture, or corrosion around ports and openings
  • Frequent crashes, freezes, or random reboots

The more issues that show up, the more likely moisture got inside and caused damage. If you notice just minor issues at first, they tend to get progressively worse over time.

Drying Out Your Wet Phone

If your phone did take an accidental swim, your goal is to dry it out as quickly and thoroughly as possible. Here are some do’s and don’ts:

DO NOT try to charge it

Never try charging a wet phone! Doing so risks serious electrical shorts and damage.

DO NOT use a hair dryer or other heat source

Exposing your phone to high heat can damage phone components and screens.

DO power down the phone immediately

Powering off the phone eliminates the risk of electrical shorts while wet. Remove the battery if possible.

DO rinse fresh water if soaked

Rinsing under a sink faucet removes any minerals and contaminants from fresh water.

DO NOT rinse with salty ocean water

Rinsing in ocean water leaves behind salts and minerals, which make corrosion worse.

DO pat dry with microfiber cloth

Gently pat dry the phone with a clean, soft lint-free cloth to soak up excess moisture.

DO leave in dry rice overnight

Burying the phone in a bowl of dry uncooked rice will help absorb residual moisture.

DO NOT use rice for more than 24 hours

Leaving a phone in rice too long allows corrosion to form. Retrieve it after one day max.

DO suck out moisture with desiccant

Silica gel packs or other desiccants pull water vapor out of tight spaces rice can’t reach.

DIY Phone Drying Techniques

Here are some recommended methods to dry out a wet phone at home:

Dry Rice

Burying the phone overnight in a bowl of dry rice is a classic DIY solution. Rice is very absorbent and pulls moisture away from the phone via diffusion. Just be sure to use dry rice – moist or cooked rice won’t work as well. The rice should fully submerge the phone.

Desiccant Packets

Small desiccant packets contain moisture-absorbing silica gel or calcium chloride. Tuck these packets around the phone in an airtight container or plastic bag. The desiccants extract humidity through moisture absorption.

Vacuum Suction

You can suction water out from ports by placing a vacuum nozzle over them, using lowest power setting. This is safe for external holes but don’t vacuum inside open SIM card slots.


Leaving a phone to dry out on an outdoor sunny window ledge helps moisture evaporate. Just don’t leave it long enough to overheat the battery.

Avoid Heat Sources

Never dry with a hair dryer, toaster oven or other heat source. High heat can damage phone components, screens and batteries.

Water Evaporation vs Water Extraction

There are two main approaches to drying a wet phone:

Water Evaporation

Evaporation relies on ways to passively allow moisture to evaporate into the air:

  • Leaving phone powered off overnight or longer
  • Dry rice
  • Silica gel packs
  • Sunlight/dry indoor air

Evaporation is slower but safer for delicate electronics. Time allows moisture to escape from inside without force.

Water Extraction

Extraction uses physical force to pull water out:

  • Vacuum suction on ports
  • Very absorbent paper towels
  • High powered drying machines

Extraction is faster but risks physical damage if too much force is applied. Only use gentle suction on external holes.

Professional Water Extraction Services

For very wet phones, or devices exposed to water for a long time, professional extraction services may be needed. These companies use specialized drying machines to thoroughly dry out phones and remove traces of moisture from interior components and connectors.

Ultrasonic Cleaning

Ultrasonic cleaners use high frequency vibrations to create microcavities in water. This liquid vibrations help dislodge trapped water deep inside the phone.

Vacuum Drying

Powerful vacuum chambers extract absorbed moisture out of all crevices and interior spaces of a phone.

Isopropyl Alcohol

High purity isopropyl alcohol displaces trapped water molecules underneath chips and connectors. It evaporates residue-free.

Professional phone recovery services also disassemble phones to dry components and inspect for corrosion damage. This gives the best chance of restoring phones to working order after significant water exposure.

Key Takeaways

  • A water damaged phone may keep working if dried quickly. Power it off immediately.
  • Moisture causes corrosion over time inside the phone.
  • Higher water resistance ratings help protect newer phones.
  • Use rice, desiccants or air drying to remove moisture at home.
  • Avoid heat sources that could further damage the phone.
  • Professional phone drying services use specialized equipment to thoroughly dry and restore wet phones.


Getting a phone wet can definitely cause serious damage, but doesn’t have to be a death sentence for your device. With quick action to power off and dry out the phone, there’s a good chance it may continue working, especially if it has some water resistance. Take steps right away to remove any moisture, and avoid charging it until completely dry. For heavy water exposure, professional phone recovery services have the best chance of reviving a waterlogged phone.