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My old iPhone 3Gs got dropped into water (completely submerged for a second or two). When I took it out, the screen was barely visible. Then it went off completely, but it appears from time to time (barely visible though).

Oddly enough, I can still sync it to iTunes.

Is the phone pretty much done or can it be repaired? Obviously the warranty is long over.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

When this happens don't turn the device on or try to sync it right away. Instead, remove the battery (if possible) and put the device into a sealed bowl that's half full of uncooked rice, crystal cat litter (make sure it's pure crystal) or the desiccant crystals often sold in garden centers. These will all draw the moisture from the device and absorb it.

Leave the device in the sealed bowl for at least 24 hours. 48 is better, but you might want to check/change the rice after 24. No need to bury the device either--just rest it on top or suspend it on a block of wood, a couple of dowels, or whatever else you can one up with. After 48 hours inspect the device. If you think it's dry go ahead and test it.

No guarantees, but with luck you'll be pleasantly surprised.

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My friend used the same methods and it worked. – revolver Feb 2 '12 at 8:15
You don't actually need those three elements. Crackers or most dry, salted snacks will absorb moisture. Water will always regulate itself (osmosis). Just simple science. That's why you can't drink seawater. The overabundance of salt actually leaches the water out of your body, and you die of dehydration. I'm sure kitty litter and dessicants works the best, but if you don't have these on hand, don't fret. Just don't turn it on. Sending an electric current will likely short the device. But it sounds like AngryHacker already did that :( – user10355 Feb 2 '12 at 10:03
Agreed that any desiccant will work, – jaberg Feb 2 '12 at 14:37
@cksum Yes, unfortunately, the device was on when it fell into water. I followed the instructions, so will see what happens in 48 hrs. Thanks. – AngryHacker Feb 2 '12 at 18:05

Actually, water is not the issue; it's the contaminants in the water coupled with long drying times in enclosed spaces with narrow gaps that does the most damage due to corrosion.

To be completely successful against corrosion, you need to CLEAN or flush the contaminants out. Working against this is the competing problem of water damaging some of the elements like the battery or causing an electrical short.

Remove the screen and LCD off your 3GS, and place the rest of the phone (without screen) in 99% isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol will damage the LCD, so that's why the removal is necessary.

Alcohol is NOT conductive (neither is pure water), it will chase the water & debris out (ever had swimmers ear?) and evaporate much faster.

Works every time, as long as you didn't plug in or keep turning in the phone prior.

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If it's still dripping wet and the water it fell in wasn't clean (or worse, was salty), and you have distilled or deionized water handy, don't turn the device on, but promptly redunk it in distilled water to flush out any contaminants before they start drying on the internal circuits.

Then leave in a bag or container of desiccant (uncooked rice is common) in a warm (not hot) place (windowsill, etc.) for a few days. You can wrap it in a handkerchief or paper towel to keep dust out of the ports while in the desiccant container. 48 hours may not be enough, some people have reported their device not coming fully back to life until around a week or more later.

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Longer is definitely better. – jaberg Feb 2 '12 at 23:23

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