Row row row your phone gently down the stream
March 30, 2012 7:03 AM   Subscribe

If I take my possibly-water-damaged iPhone to the Apple Store, will they replace it on the spot or will they be able to see if there's life in it yet?

I (or rather, my 1 year old companion) took my iPhone for a swim in a toilet for about 3 seconds. The phone immediately shut off. I threw it in a shallow bag of rice and then ran to the pet store to get those cat litter crystals, which took about 15 minutes. Other than being completely shut off, the LED light was on, dimly, for about two hours before also turning off.

The phone had been sitting in the crystals for 24 hours before I tried turning it on. It gave no sign of life after being plugged in for 2 minutes, so I threw it back in with the crystals. Of course, now I'm worried that I killed the phone by turning it on at all.

If I take it to the Apple store and it's still not turning on, will they replace it on the spot, or can they tell if it's worth waiting another few days?

Is there anything else I should be doing in the meantime to help its recovery?
posted by Viola to Technology (20 answers total)
There's apparently some kind of indicator inside the phone (color-changing bit of paper, if memory serves) that will tell the folks at the Genius Bar whether or not the phone got wet. You could throw yourselves at their mercy, but I think that they're off the hook for a replacement once they see that it was water damage.
posted by jquinby at 7:09 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

If it's water damaged, they will almost definitely tell you they can't replace it.
posted by empath at 7:11 AM on March 30, 2012

Did you get AppleCare+ for your phone? Then they'll replace it for $49.

(Before they added the + to AppleCare, they had more discretion to replace phones for accidental damage like dropping, although they still wouldn't cover water damage.)
posted by smackfu at 7:12 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh I wouldn't expect them to replace it for free - I read somewhere that the replacement fee is $200 for a water damaged phone.

I'm mainly curious if they can tell if it'll ever turn on again, or if they'll just tell me that the phone has water damage, as it certainly does, and that I should pony up for a new one.
posted by Viola at 7:16 AM on March 30, 2012

They take your phone, give you a refurbished one, and then refurbish yours for later doling out
posted by MangyCarface at 7:27 AM on March 30, 2012

I'm pretty sure that the only repairs Genius bar employees will do is replace the back glass or the camera. Other than that, things are too delicate for them to do at the store, and they'll exchange it instead.
posted by deansfurniture5 at 7:27 AM on March 30, 2012

My friend did exactly the same thing. Phone in toilet. She submerged it in rice for several days, and the phone is fine. It took a lot longer than 24 hours. Closer to a week, but it worked.
posted by ljshapiro at 7:35 AM on March 30, 2012 [1 favorite]

Yes, Apple typically won't replace iPhones with water damage. I knew this, and I still went to the Apple Store with my malfunctioning (dead) iPhone. They could tell that it had been exposed to water, but the Genius was feeling charitable because my iPhone wasn't that old, and he presented me with a free refurbished one.

You could press your luck, but be prepared for disappointment.
posted by emelenjr at 7:38 AM on March 30, 2012

My daughter took her non-functioning ipod back to the Apple store, and the nice man said they would give her a new one straight away.

"I might have got it a bit wet." she said. He froze.
"Er, don't tell me that." he said.

So she didn't, and he gave her a new one.
posted by Segundus at 7:38 AM on March 30, 2012 [4 favorites]

I'm worried that since I turned on the phone after 24 hours, it's likely kaput. Should I just let it marinate in the crystals for another few days anyways? I'm more than happy to be phone-less if it spares me the $200 replacement fee.
posted by Viola at 7:40 AM on March 30, 2012

*Phone-less for a couple days. Not forever.
posted by Viola at 7:43 AM on March 30, 2012

Yeah, give it some time.
posted by jgreco at 7:49 AM on March 30, 2012

I dropped my iPhone in the toilet New Years even when I'd just gotten it for Christmas. It wasn't the most fun experience ever, but I quickly fished it out and let it dry. 2 days after that I took it to the apple store and while on the outside indicator there was some water spotting, it wasn't enough for them to consider damaged, particularly as the inside didn't show singns.

So my experience is that you should be fine, just take it in and tell them that its been a little wonky.
posted by Carillon at 8:22 AM on March 30, 2012

Give it a week. If not, when I took my toilet-swam phone back to the store, they charged me $200 for a refurb.
posted by nevercalm at 8:23 AM on March 30, 2012

my friend just got his (already back-side cracked) iphone 4 soaked in the rain two weeks ago...he managed to upgrade to th 4s with a $200 discount (off of full retail so ~$400)
posted by sexyrobot at 8:41 AM on March 30, 2012

*cough* Former fruit salesman. *cough*

The water sensor that's at the bottom of the phone is what tells a technician if your phone has been royally and truly exposed to water. Even still, if your phone is any of the following, the tech has the ability to replace your phone for you: a) under initial 1 year warranty, b) covered under AppleCare, c) going to be your first phone replacement.

The Genius bar is composed of nice people. I swear. Keep leaving the phone in rice for a while, then as soon as it turns on, back up your data IMMEDIATELY, and go to the nearest Apple store for a consult.

The $200 replacement fee is not standard, fwiw.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 8:58 AM on March 30, 2012 [3 favorites]

Correction: The $200 replacement fee is not standard in my region. Things have changed though, so that comment I say with the caveat that standard replacement procedures may vary now.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:00 AM on March 30, 2012

The Out of Warranty repair (replacement in the Apple Store) is $149 for iPhone 4 and older. And $199 for iPhone 4S

I've had to do this twice, most recently in December when there was a hardware problem and it was out of warranty. I paid $149 and got a replacement on the spot. The earlier time it was my 3G with similar water damage to yours. In my case I let it sit in a bed of rice for 3 days. It would start but the home button didn't work and the display would flicker like an old neon sign. At the time iPhone 3G OOW was $199.

If I were you, I'd wait a few more days if you think there's signs of life. If not, make an appointment at the Genius Bar and go get a replacement. I was able to pop out the SIM from my iPhone 4 and use it in my old Sony Ericsson phone by lining up where the contacts were with the old full-size SIM slot. That only works if you have an ATT iPhone and an old GSM phone that works on ATT though).
posted by birdherder at 11:28 AM on March 30, 2012

The water sensor that's at the bottom of the phone is what tells a technician if your phone has been royally and truly exposed to water.

There's also one inside the headphone jack.

I dropped one in the tun once. The screen was totally cool and became nearly transparent. Text just floated on the glass. It booted fine right away, and I never tried drying it (I also figured it was dead because to had been fully submerged, so I didn't expect it to live). A few days later you could't even tell.
posted by cjorgensen at 8:26 PM on March 30, 2012

A can of coke exploded in my backpack and destroyed my iPhone. I tried covering it in rice but coke is obviously a little different from water so that didn't work whatsoever. In any case, I brought my phone to the Apple store, was totally honest about the damage, and since my phone was within a year of purchase they replaced it for free without hesitation. (I think a large part of replacement/warranty issues depends on who you get at the Genius Bar, so YMMV). My point is: you might get it for free, you may have to pay some money, but they'll probably replace it on the spot.
posted by thebots at 11:19 PM on March 30, 2012

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