One of the most common and frustrating circumstances of owning a phone simply has to relate to exposure to water. Nearly everyone who has even owned a cellular phone has experienced the agony of allowing water to come into contact with their phone, knowing that all of the information that is contained within may be gone forever and that there is likely little that can be done. While everyone has experienced this, the outcomes tend to vary significantly. Some phones will immediately succumb to the presence of water and will never again power on, while others will dry out and function just like the day it was bought. To the owner of the phone, it may seem like these outcomes are random, but there is a good reason why each phone behaves the way it does after water exposure.


Wide Variety of Outcomes Possible

There is a reason that it seems that there are so many possible outcomes that can result from water exposure, and why those outcomes seem to be random to the owner of the phone. There are a number of considerations that must be taken into account, including:

  • Number of entry points into the phone
  • Number of possible angles of entry
  • Force of entry
  • Nature of the exposure (submerged, spray, mist, sweat, etc.)
  • Type of liquid

Once you have determined the nature of the water exposure, it is easiest to think about your phone’s circuitry as a sort of series of roads through which the flow of electrons is controlled.

As common as this problem is, it’s no wonder why companies have come out with water repellant nanocoating technologies, which is soon to take the electronic market by storm.  The nanocoating technology is not only applicable to mobile devices, it can also be used to nanocoat iPads, game consoles, cameras, and even hearing aids.

When water is present inside the phone, the flow of electrons is no longer controlled, and it is like driving without any road whatsoever. This is because water conducts electricity, and the presence of water allows the electrons to flow freely throughout the device without any rhyme or reason. You can see in this YouTube video what happens exactly when your phone gets wet.

Your Phone Works, and Then It Does Not

If you have ever seen a rusty tin roof, you understand that water and metal interact and cause a chemical reaction resulting in the appearance of rust. A phone damaged by water will appear the same way, only the reaction occurs much more rapidly due to the presence of power. The metals in the phone degrade and inhibit them from working properly, causing your phone to slowly lose function. This is why your phone may work immediately following water exposure, only to cease function after a week or so.

Your Phone Immediately “Dies”

This is caused by a corrosive process known as electrochemical migration. If you continue to view the circuit board as a system of roads controlling the flow of electrons, then electrochemical migration is essentially a construction crew that haphazardly creates new roads through the formation of a metal dendrite. The new road disrupts the function of the phone and inhibits the phone from ever functioning properly again.

What Can Be Done to Treat a Wet Phone?

Since the presence of power accelerates the degradation process, do not turn your phone on until it has sufficiently dried out. You should also avoid trying to shake the water from your phone, as this may cause more damage by forcing it farther into the device. Any water that is visible should be dried out, and then patience should be exhibited before powering the phone back on.