Dragos Dragusin
Posted by Dragos Dragusin,

Is there life after "death by water damage"? Although iPhone 7 and presumably iPhone 8 should be water and dust resistant, some Apple users still report dead home button, data loss, and camera damage when their brand new devices are in contact with liquids.

Older iPhone generations are not protected against water damage. If you're still using iPhone 5, 6, 6s or older, you could lose years of photos, files, contacts and chats if your iPhone comes in contact with any liquid.

Here’s your ultimate guide to iPhone data recovery for water damaged devices. It covers the following:

  1. First steps to salvage the phone
  2. How to check if iPhone is damaged by water or not
  3. What to avoid doing
  4. How to recover data from a water damaged iPhone

1. First steps to salvage a wet iPhone

  • Remove the iOS device from water as soon as possible
  • Power down by pressing and holding the Power button.
  • (The recovery chances can increase if you turn it off in a short time.)
  • Remove any case that is on the phone.
  • Remove the SIM card and tray from iPhone.
  • Use a dry, absorbent cloth to get the moisture out of the phone.

2. Sure signs of water damage if you drop your iPhone in water

2.1 Un-official indicators

  • Power and start-up problems: failure to turn on device, restarts immediately after turning on, or you see the iphone stuck with a white screen of death;Hardware failure: the speaker or microphone is not working, or your iOS device is overheating;
  • Warning messages: when using your iOS device you may get one or more error messages like "This accessory is not made to work with iPhone" or "Charging is not supported with this accessory.";Application problems: Safari browser, email or other apps opening and closing without reason.
  • water damaged iPhone


    2.2 Official water damage indicators from Apple

    Apple has a series of official diagrams showing the liquid contact indicators location to check if your iOS data is in danger. When you see a red dot than it means that your device has been exposed to water. If the red dot doesn’t appear, then the device is ok. Luckily, any iPhone model built after 2006 have built-in Liquid Contact Indicators.

    Liquid contact indicator iPhone 7, iPhone 7 Plus location

    iphone 7 liquid contact indicator

    Liquid contact indicator iPhone 6, 6 Plus ,6S, 6S Plus location

    iphone 6 liquid contact indicator

    Liquid contact indicator iPhone 5S , iPhone 5C, iPhone 5, iPhone SE location

    iphone 5 liquid contact indicator

    Liquid contact indicator iPhone 4, 4s location

    iphone 4 liquid contact indicator

    3. What to avoid doing when your iPhone is damaged by water

    If you think liquid contact is the worst thing that can happen to your device, think again.

    Things can get even worse if you try to save it using unconventional methods circulated on the Internet. When panic takes over, most people would do anything without thinking twice about long-term effects of trying to fix a water damaged iPhone themselves.

    Don’t cause even more damage, and refrain from doing the following:

  • Don’t press any buttons
    By pressing any button, you push the water inside even more. If the Phone is still on, you could short circuit button contacts.
  • Don’t try to switch your phone on
    If water gets in contact with the electrical connections you could short circuit electrical components inside.
  • Don’t shake your phone
    Shaking could also force water inside the device and close to the circuits, so it’s best to avoid this.
  • Don’t use a hairdryer to dry your phone
    The heat from the dryer could cause additional damage. Drying tools, electric ovens or hot air guns are also a no-no!
  • Don’t put your iPhone in uncooked rice or cat litter.
    By using these methods, foreign small particles could enter into the iPhone body and increase the level of damage. The rice could then soak up the water and expand to almost 4 times the size. By increasing in size, the rice could potentially cause more damage.
  • avoid rice on water damaged iPhone
  • Don’t try to perform any surgery on the device
    Jessica Smith wrote a great article on why most improvised methods to save water damaged iPhone actually do not work. Simply admitting defeat and focus on recovering your data is a much better use of your time and energy. If you try to replace the battery and the tactics rendered the phone warranty invalid. So it’s best to avoid performing any “surgery” on your device.
  • Be careful when you read the recovery tutorials for water damaged iPhones or other mobile phones. Not everything that’s written online is safe, useful or good for you.

    You could try... drying out your iPhone with silica gel sachets

    Silica gel packets that come when buying electrical components should dry out a wet iPhone more efficiently compared to rice.

    Your device will need at least 48 hours using this method to dry out.

    4. How to recover data from a water damaged iPhone

    Even if the device is dead there is still hope. If you tried everything and you think that your iPhone is beyond repair, it’s not too late to recover iPhone data. You can still try to recover your data from existing iTunes or iCloud backups. This is possible even if the iPhone is in the deathbed by using a reliable iPhone data recovery software.

    Using a free recovery tool like iTunes is limited because you could risk overwriting all your data in the iPhone. Also, you can’t selectively recover the desired data.

    Water damaged iPhone data recovery process

    To recover water damaged iPhone data you can simply follow the steps below. You can follow the same steps if you want to recover deleted data, even if you lost your iPhone. This applies also if you want to recover data from broken iPhones.

    • Step 1. Download for Windows (or get the Mac version) and install the software
    • Step 2. Select the iTunes backup folder

    • Step 3. Preview and recover lost data

    • You can preview files like messages and photos and restore data to your PC or Mac.

    Recover data from iCloud backups

    • Step 1. Select the iCloud backup

    • Step 2. Download the iCloud backup

    • Choose a device, then a backup, and download it locally to start the iOS data recovery process.

    • Step 3. Preview and retrieve data



    Protect your iOS device with a waterproof case

    If you want to make sure your device is protected from any water damage in the future, get a waterproof case.

    You can buy it online or from a retail store. See here some of the best waterproof cases . There are even cases for great underwater photographs with your iPhone.

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