Everything You Need to Know About the iPhone Water Damage Indicator

If you own an iPhone, then probably one of the things that you’ve enjoyed about it is learning all of its many features. There are some aspects of the iPhone that don’t change with each version that comes out, but there are also new apps, shortcuts, and tools that are unique to each generation. What many people don’t know, though, is that modern iPhones come with a water damage indicator. It’s a useful tool, but one that flies under the radar, since it is not spoken of as prominently as something like Apple Pay or Hey Siri. In this article, we’ll talk about the water damage indicator and how and when it can be useful to you.

Why Do You Need a Water Damage Indicator on an iPhone?

iPhone Water Damage Indicator

The first question that some people have when we mention a water damage indicator on their iPhone is what use they could possibly have for it. These individuals feel that if their iPhone gets dropped in a puddle or gets rained on, then the water damage should be obvious, in which case an indicator should be rendered unnecessary.

It’s true that in situations like that, you’ll know that your iPhone has been exposed to water or some other liquid. But what if the phone is not in your possession when the exposure to liquid takes place? Maybe you lose track of your phone at a party. Something gets spilled on it, seeping into the internal components. Then the phone dries out before you find it again.

Now, you have a situation where the phone could have water damage, but you’d never know it until the device starts acting strangely. It is for circumstances like this that the water damage indicator was installed.

How Does an iPhone Water Damage Indicator Work?

Water Vapor in the Air

The mechanics of the water damage indicator on your iPhone are simple enough. If the phone is submerged in water or another liquid, that will trigger it. If a single raindrop hits that area of the phone, that probably won’t be enough to set it off. The device has been tested to the point that it is relatively intuitive.

However, a false positive indication of water damage is not impossible. The most likely cause is if there is too much water vapor in the air. This phenomenon could happen naturally, like if you’re out on a hike in a moist climate, for instance. 

Shower Trips an iPhone Water Damage Indicator

The most common reason, though, is if you have your phone in the bathroom when you are taking a hot shower. That amount of steam in the air could easily trigger the water damage indicator, though the steam itself is not likely to damage any of the components. Still, it’s best to leave your phone out of the bathroom when you shower to avoid these situations.

Where is the Water Damage Indicator Located?

The iPhone SIM Card Tray

Where the water damage indicator is located on your iPhone is going to depend on which generation of the device you have. If you have an early model of the iPhone, then there are actually two indicators. One is inside the headphone jack, while the other is near your phone’s SIM card slot.

In more recent versions, the indicator can be found near your SIM card slot or inside of it. You will find the SIM card slot on the lower right-hand side of the phone. The indicator itself looks like a little patch. If that patch is white, or white with a pattern, with some iPhone models, then the device has detected no water damage. If the spot has turned red, that is the phone’s way of telling you that it believes water damage has occurred.

It should be noted, however, that you’ll need to look for the water damage indicator before you can tell whether you’ve gotten a positive indication. In other words, there’s no message saying “water damage” or something to that effect that comes up on your screen. A more obvious warning of that nature would come in handy, so maybe at some point, Apple will incorporate it.

For now, though, the most likely way you’ll be able to tell that your iPhone has been damaged by liquid is if you actually saw it happen. The other way will be if the device starts malfunctioning. In that case, you can check the indicator to see if that’s what is wrong with it.

What if Your iPhone Has Sustained Water Damage?

If the iPhone has been damaged by water or another liquid, then you’re not going to be happy about it. However, it’s not the worst thing in the world. You should just follow these steps in this order.

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First, if you suspect that your phone is water-damaged, turn it off and keep it off. Turning the phone on could damage it further if water has indeed penetrated to the internal components. Don’t connect it to a computer or try to charge it, either. That could be dangerous.

Start drying the phone off by hand. Use a soft towel. Remove the SIM card from the slot using a SIM card removal tool or a straightened paperclip. Dry it with the towel, and let it sit for a few minutes before reinserting it in the slot and putting it back in the phone. You should also use the cloth and dry off the SIM card tray and slot, the headphone jack, and anywhere else you can reach.

A Soft Cloth to Dry Your iPhone

You can then try “the rice trick.” You may have seen some variations of this online, such as YouTube videos or elsewhere. Fill a plastic bag with uncooked rice, and put your iPhone in there as well. Let it sit for 24-48 hours. The idea is to allow the rice to draw the moisture out of the phone, as uncooked rice is a natural conduit for water. It might be able to get any moisture out of the device that you couldn’t reach with your cloth.

Rice for iPhone Water Damage

Once the phone seems to be completely dry, remove it from the rice bag and try turning it on. iPhones are water-resistant, even if they are not waterproof. The odds are fair that this process will have worked.

What if Your Efforts Have Failed?

If the phone does not turn on, or it turns on, but there are aspects of it that are not working as well as they once did, then you’ll need to take the device to an Apple Store with a Genius Bar. The employees there can look it over and figure out what to do next. It might be that some components have to be replaced, or maybe you’ll need to get an entirely new phone.

How much the repairs or the new phone will cost is going to depend on whether the device was still under warranty, and also whether you have insurance for it. The warranty on your device is not likely to cover something like water damage. Warranties typically are in place for things like manufacturer defects. It’s phone insurance that covers misadventure, and that is what water damage to your iPhone is likely to be considered.

As for the water damage indicator, it’s a nice feature of the device. It can give you a warning as to what is happening with your phone if you didn’t see the water damage take place. It would be excellent if there were a more prominent warning system from Apple, but the indicator is better than nothing. Maybe in the future, they will come up with a more obvious way of letting you know that your device has been exposed to moisture.

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