I seem to have dodged a bullet.

Last weekend my iPhone 5s managed to make it into the washing machine. I think realized my mistake about 10 minutes into the wash and dug out a thoroughly waterlogged device. It was powered on when it was submerged, but powered off when I pulled it out.

I took the internet's advice and left it sealed in a plastic bag of uncooked rice. I powered it on today and all is apparently well apart from some interesting display artifacts (those are not reflections - this is how the display looks from just about any angle):

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Fingers crossed it hold up till the end of the contract.

Given the thoroughness of this submerging, I'm actually quite surprised at how well this device has faired. Not only was it in for 10 minutes or more (dripping when it came out), but the water was far from pure - laundry soap + whatever dirt was coming out of the laundry load. I assume such grey water has a much lower electrical resistance than pure water, and would therefore be much more damaging to electrical circuitry.

So, does this iPhone have any built-in water protection mechanisms? It did power itself off, but perhaps this was just undefined behaviour. Or did I just get very lucky?

Side question - I'm about 6 months into my present 2 year contract. Whats the likelihood this phone will make it to the next upgrade cycle?

  • Two comments: have you tested audio? The speakers and microphones seem to get damaged by water. Second, factually pure water is non-conductive, impurities in water are what make it conductive, but given that water has to enter the case through just a few small holes and the air inside has to come out (displacement) for water to go in it possible only a small amount got in, the fact that you can power on so quickly after just a day of rice seems to support this. – Tyson Sep 13 '15 at 13:41
  • @tyson audio is bidirectionally good during phone calls. The device was definitely waterlogged- after drying the exterior with paper towels, a significant amount of water continued to drip out. The artifacts inside the display seem to confirm that. "Last weekend" was a week ago - it was on rice for nearly a week. – Digital Trauma Sep 13 '15 at 16:22
  • External audio - ringing and music playing - are good. The vibration device is a bit weak but seems to be improving - presumably as it dries out more. – Digital Trauma Sep 13 '15 at 16:27

To specifically answer your question, the iPhone (6 and lower)* does not have any specific water protection built in. In fact, there are "sensors" that will turn red (from white) if the phone has been exposed to water. One of them is inside the headphone port and I believe there is another one but don't remember where.

Some generations of iPhone survive better than other by more or less accident and some of it has to do with your exact situation. It sounds like you were fortunate.

Due to the severity of the incident, I wouldn't be surprised if the phone does die at some time within the next 1.5 years. However, considering it appears to work almost like-new (aside from the screen), your chances of making the contract are still decent.

* the iPhone 6S is actually somewhat water resistant even though Apple didn't advertise it as such.

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  • Looks like you called it. The phone was fine until a couple of days ago when it started discharging within a few hours instead of lasting at least a day. Then it got to the point where it didn't seem to charge at all, even though the battery lightning bolt was displayed. Soon it died completely. I've tried hard resets, different chargers (good on other devices), cleaning lint out of the lightning charger socket on the phone (there was a fair bit), but no luck. – Digital Trauma Jun 21 '16 at 18:43
  • Another update, if you're interested. When the phone died in June it didn't happen immediately - instead it seemed effectively like the battery was no longer taking a charge and eventually ran down to zero. There were some videos on that phone that I didn't have any backups of, so I really wanted to try to access them if at all possible. Because of the battery rundown, I did some more research and found the iFixit battery replacement kit which I installed today, and the phone now powers up! I have now got the copies of ... – Digital Trauma Oct 16 '16 at 22:18
  • ... all the videos I had thought I had lost (my kids dance performances, etc), so now I'm happy again :) – Digital Trauma Oct 16 '16 at 22:19

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