Help me save my poor little phone
December 2, 2008 2:03 AM   Subscribe

Last night, a friend accidentally spilled a drink over my mobile phone. Now it sort of works. What can I do?

Although it was in my pocket at the time, I'm pretty sure the phone got a good old gulp of the vodka and coke I was enjoying (until it got knocked out of my hands, that is). Now it sort of works, but the backlight is well and truly gone meaning I can barely see the screen. I wouldn't be surprised if there were some software problems too.

Are there any quick-fix solutions to this, and does the fact it was a sugary drink have any bearing?

FYI it's a Nokia 6500 slide. Please help!
posted by jhighmore to Technology (8 answers total)
Best answer: Yeah.. the coke might be a problem.

The only thing you can do is take it apart as much as you can and let it dry out for a few days. I have had several friends resurrect their phone like this after dropping it in water. But with coke turning all sticky and syrupy when it dries.. you might be struggling.

You have nothing to lose by trying though.
posted by TheOtherGuy at 2:12 AM on December 2, 2008

I did not have a good experience with this phone-- I think the sliding mechanism makes it a bit fragile. Still, try sliding it out to dry, while it's turned off. Don't even TRY to turn it on for 48 hours and maybe magically it will come back to life (hey, it worked for my macbook after it consumed a glass of wine).
posted by indienial at 2:49 AM on December 2, 2008

Yep, let it dry out. And make sure the battery & terminals are clean and dry before trying to resurrect it.

Indienal - the sliding mechanisms on some Nokias are fragile, but in my experience, they're the Kalishnikovs of mobile phone tech. I've had a friend's toddler try to feed mine to a very drooly and chewy dog (after dipping it in a bowl of cereal and milk) and it still came out ok. It's my spare phone now, but it works!
posted by Grrlscout at 4:17 AM on December 2, 2008

I'm with TheOtherGuy -- disassemble it and go about your business, giving it a day or two to recover. Live and let dry, in other words..

For what it's worth -- if the thing does not make its resurrection roll and you have to replace it -- I have an Ericsson that is hardy enough that it once got knocked off of the edge of the table into a drink and survived. I don't mean into a puddle of liquid or something; I mean I looked about on the floor for ten seconds before I realized it must be totally immersed in a glass of coke. Sure enough, it survived its baptism fine.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:22 AM on December 2, 2008

Sugary drinks are deadly to electronics.

The following is not for the faint of heart but can successfully resurrect electronic gadgets after liquid submersion (coke, seawater, etc) if no electronic damage (shorting things out, blowing things up) has occurred.

If you're mechanically inclined, your best bet would be to remove the battery, disassemble the phone as completely as possible and wash the parts very carefully in water (seriously!). Submerging the parts completely in warm water for a short time may be required. As the coke has almost certainly dried to a sticky mess by now, you may need the assistance of a soft toothbrush to get the worst of it off. After cleaning, lay out the parts on a cookie sheet (or similar) and place in a slightly warm oven (NOT A MICROWAVE OVEN!!) for a few hours- set oven to lowest temp, 100 degrees or so. Reassemble, install the battery, and see what you have.

Good luck!
posted by taubman at 5:25 AM on December 2, 2008

taubman recommended cleaning it with water where you can - I'd suggest 99% alcohol. Effective solvent and dries quickly, limiting corrosion.

More here on using alcohol for electronics cleaning.

And a discussion on the subject here re: video games

Just think of the alcohol cleaning pads you sometimes see - some idea but without the packaging.

Just be sure to get it all out of there =)

Beyond that, this phone is going for just over $200 on ebay now - should be able to get it below $150 with the discount currently available. Not a solution, but just a heads up.

Good luck!
posted by unclezeb at 6:07 AM on December 2, 2008

Better than the oven is to bury the phone in uncooked rice after washing it. This should completely dry it out in 24 hours.
posted by cosmac at 7:58 AM on December 2, 2008

Best answer: I agree with unclezeb about 99% alcohol- but it can be tough to come by (at least where I live, its not normally available in supermarkets and pharmacies). If all you have is the usual 91% "rubbing alcohol", you might as well use water as the other 9% of liquid in the bottle is water. If you're not planning on repairing lots of electronics, water will be fine for a one-off repair. Just make sure to get the parts dried quickly.
posted by taubman at 9:50 AM on December 2, 2008

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