How do I possibly restore a water damaged iPhone stuck in "I need a SIM card" hell?
August 9, 2010 11:09 AM   Subscribe

How can I defeat the evil "There is no Sim card installed in the iPhone you are attempting to activate" message after water damage" message?

Quickly, and to the point:

1. I went swimming with my iPhone 3GS for about 12 seconds.
2. I immediately got as much water out as possible and put in a bag of rice for three days.
3. Today, I was able to "restore" the iPhone (i.e, wiping out all data). I can turn it on, charge the battery, etcetera.
4. The machine is stuck on the "please put me in iTunes and make me happy" graphic.
5. Problem: My MacBook Pro recognizes the iPhone, but gives me the "There is no Sim card installed" message. I am able to type on the screen, here typical noises when pressing the numeric keypad, etcetera. I went to AT&T and got a new SIM card. Unfortunately, still the same message.

Given that the hardware is probably damaged, are there any other things I can try to resurrect the phone?

If not, what alternatives do I have? (I cannot get an upgrade until May 2011).

Thanks for all of you help.

Sad iPhone Water Damaged Man
posted by bengalsfan1 to Computers & Internet (4 answers total)
I just killed my iphone with water damage and had it repaired.

First, I know you think it's dry, but turn it off. Next, take it to a repair place and get it repaired. Mine also just wanted itunes (though in my case I got no reaction in attempting to plug it in).

This is the place I took mine and their page on liquid damage: Note the cascading failure thing.

Find someplace near you to repair it. My repair cost $109, which was a lot cheaper than replacing or upgrading.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:15 AM on August 9, 2010

You can go to an Apple store, hand them $200, and they will give you a refurbished iPhone (same model and capacity): Apple Out of Warranty Service. I did this with a 3GS that had been used scuba diving and didn't even turn on.

I would suggest some lower-cost options first, and use Apple as a last resort. They will accept any phone as long as it's not in several different pieces.
posted by meowzilla at 12:01 PM on August 9, 2010

Well, if it is not fried you could try to open it, put it into distilled water for a while, then into isopropanol and then dry it. I once rescued my laptop with this which does not like beer to much (I did not submerge the screen).

posted by yoyo_nyc at 12:10 PM on August 9, 2010

When you let it dry out, did you remove the SIM? It or the contacts inside the phone might still be wet and once dry the phone will see the SIM.

If it still doesn't work, If I only had a penguin's advice about seeking a low cost repair place might be the next step. But if you want something today, you can spend $200 and go to your nearest Apple Store and they'll replace it with a refurb (the warranty exchange units all have new glass and back plastic as well as battery so it is sort of is like getting a new phone). This doesn't extend your contract with ATT.
posted by birdherder at 12:29 PM on August 9, 2010

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