Water and technology are not usually happy bedfellows, so suddenly seeing your precious iPhone plummet into the sink, bath, toilet, or any other body of water can be a heart-stopping moment. But, don’t panic, all may not be lost as modern phones are far more robust than those of yesteryear. In this article, we explain the best strategies for dealing with a wet or water-damaged iPhone.
You can jump straight to our advice for how to dry your iPhone, but before we do that we offer some reassurance that things might not be as bad as you imagine.
Is my iPhone waterproof?
If you purchased your iPhone at any time since late 2016, then there’s a very good chance that it will have some level of water resistance. Just how waterproof your iPhone is will be indicated by its IP Rating. This rating lets you know how water-resistant the product is. There are multiple types of IP ratings, but the two main ones that apply to iPhones are IP67 and IP68.
Here’s what they mean:
IP67 – Can survive submersion in up to 1 meter of water for a maximum of 30 minutes
IP68 – Can survive submersion in up to 2 meters of water for a maximum of 30 minutes
The iPhone 7/7Plus offered IP67 at launch in September 2016, and then in September 2018 Apple upped this rating to IP68 with the arrival of the iPhone XS and XS Max.
Therefore, if you have an iPhone 7 or newer it should happily survive short dips and the odd spilled beverage or two. This doesn’t mean you can take your iPhone swimming, jet skiing, or use it in a steam room. It just means that if your iPhone slips out of your back pocket and drops into the toilet (it happens!) and you quickly fish it out it should be ok. Although you may want to read about how to safely clean your iPhone after an incident like that.
Wondering how waterproof your iPhone is? Here’s the last few generations have lined up, so you can gage how worried you should be!
iPhone 6s and earlier: not rated
iPhone 7/7Plus: IP67
iPhone 8/8 Plus: IP67
iPhone X: IP67
iPhone XR: IP67
iPhone XS/XS Max: IP68
iPhone 11 range: IP68
iPhone 12 range: IP68
iPhone 13 range: IP68
iPhone SE 2020: IP67
iPhone SE 2022: IP67
iPhone 14 range: IP68
Of course, things can still go wrong even with an apparently waterproof iPhone. If there is any residual water on or in your device after the incident it may cause problems. Follow the advice below and learn how to dry out your iPhone.
Does Apple’s warranty cover water damage?
Thanks to the waterproofing your iPhone will hopefully work well after its submersion, but should you have a problem with your iPhone in the future the incident may come back to haunt you.
Neither Apple’s one-year warranty nor its AppleCare Protection Plan covers liquid damage.
Apple will be able to tell if your iPhone got wet in the past and that will void your warranty (U.S. details) / U.K. details) should anything go wrong later on. Since 2006 Apple has included Liquid Contact Indicators inside iPhones that activate when they come into contact with water. You can actually view the LCI via the SIM card slot and it will show red if it’s been activated – you’ll probably need a light and a magnifying glass to see. (In the U.S. the iPhone 14 series don’t have this Liquid Contact Indicator hidden in the SIM tray, instead, it’s inside the iPhone).
Don’t open your SIM tray to see if the LCI has been activated. You must dry your iPhone first.
If the wet iPhone is in a case, take it out. Water can linger in nooks and crannies.
With a soft towel or cloth, wipe the liquid off everything you can reach.
Give the iPhone a gentle shake and, with the lightning port directed downwards, tap to clear any water from the lightning port and speakers.
What NOT to do if an iPhone gets wet
Do not plug in the iPhone. If it’s plugged in already, unplug it (very carefully).
If the iPhone is switched off do not turn it on. This can cause short circuits.
Do not open the SIM tray until the iPhone is dry.
Do not try to dry the iPhone using a hair dryer.
Do not insert anything into the ports.
How to dry an iPhone
While Apple advises that you can simply wipe the iPhone dry and tap any excess water out of the ports, we recommend you go a little further than that to ensure your iPhone is as dry as possible.
So in addition to taking the iPhone out of any cases, wiping it with a cloth, and tapping it to help any water out of the ports, as above, we recommend the following:
Fan: Place the iPhone in front of a fan with the Lightning connector facing the fan. This is one of Apple’s suggestions. It should be a fan blowing cool air (not an electric heater).
Rice: The rice trick used to be the go-to method back when submerging an iPhone in water was likely to damage it considerably. The popularity of this method is likely down to the fact that rice is something most of us will have at home. We explain what to do below.
Silica gel: Silica gel sachets will dry a wet iPhone out more efficiently and less messily than rice. While we are less likely to have silica gel packets around the home these days, back at the height of the COVID pandemic we probably had lots thanks to their inclusion inside text kits. You can also find these inedible packets inside new handbags or packed with some electronic components. You may be able to buy silica gel from a craft shop, or you can get them on Amazon US or Amazon UK.
How to dry out an iPhone with uncooked rice
Now we need to draw as much interior liquid out as possible. Resist the temptation to use a hair dryer or other heat treatment, as this can damage the iPhone’s internal components.
To get moisture out of the iPhone’s interior, you need a desiccant. Many people swear by uncooked rice, advising owners to put their damp iPad or iPhone in a big bowl of the stuff (cover it completely) and leave it there for 24 hours or so.
The rice will absorb the moisture effectively, and most of us have some uncooked rice in our homes (or can get hold of some fairly easily). But it may get dust or even entire grains into the ports. Be warned.
Get some dry rice (not cooked) and a plastic food box. If no plastic box is available get a bowl.
Fill the plastic box with dry rice and submerge the iPhone inside the rice (the rice needs to completely surround the device, covering the screen).
Put the lid on the plastic container.
With older iPhones we recommend leaving the iPhone in the rice for about 72 hours, but with more recent iPhones 24 hours should be sufficient.
After you’ve left the iPhone for a day or so, plug it iPhone in and switch it on. See if it works properly.
If it doesn’t. Switch the iPhone off, put it back in the rice and wait another 24 hours.
Keep trying it every day for a few more days.
Should you dismantle an iPhone to dry it out?
If you’re really worried that there’s liquid inside your iPhone, and confident about doing DIY repairs, then there is always the option of opening up the device and drying it out. iFixit is a great site that takes you step-by-step through repairs and lets you know how tricky they may be before you begin.
Just bear in mind that, if the water damage hasn’t already been detected by the Liquid Contact Indicators inside the iPhone, opening the iPhone up is likely to invalidate any warranty coverage you’ve got, and there’s a risk that your DIY work will cause damage rather than repair it.
Still: the most effective way to get water from the inside of an iPhone is to get right in there and dry it out from within.
If you can, apply a soft dry cloth to all accessible surfaces while endeavoring to be as gentle as possible.
To be honest, we wouldn’t recommend this approach, primarily because of its potential to exacerbate the problem, but in some situations, it may be the only way to save the day and at least recover some of your data. If nothing else works and you’re out of warranty, you may find yourself with nothing to lose.
How to eject water from an iPhone speaker
There is one last thing you can try if you find that water may be in your device. While most iPhones are water-resistant, it doesn’t stop water from getting into the speaker grilles. Apple Watches comes with a built-in feature that can be toggled to ‘eject’ the water by playing a specific frequency, clearing out its speaker grilles in the process. Why iPhones don’t feature a similar option is something of a mystery, but there is a relatively easy way to get the same results via a free app called Sonic (the Tone Generator, not the hedgehog).
Simply download the app and tap the water droplet icon in the middle of the screen. This should cause the water to ‘jump’ from the speaker so you can absorb it with a tissue. A paid version also offers other frequency ranges, so if your music or podcasts sound a bit garbled after the iPhone takes a dip, this is well worth a go.
What to do next
Ok, so you’ve had your iPhone buried in rice or Silica gel sachets for a day or so. What next? If you think the device has successfully dried out, you can try switching it on. Should this not work, you can try returning it to the rice or Silica and give it more time. If that doesn’t do the job, then you’ll want to get the internals checked out. Book an appointment with an Apple Genius to see if they can help rescue the device.
One final warning: iPhones can be resurrected temporarily, but then succumb to liquid damage at a later date, so we would advise that you back up all important files on the device in case it packs up again in the future. As we said, its recovery may only be temporary – although we hope not. If it turns out to be a terminal case though, you can always browse our roundup of the best iPhone deals to see if you can find a bargain for its replacement.