We've come to rely on our smartphones to deliver a constant stream of information to us throughout the day, every day of our lives. It can be a tragic and expensive thing to lose one or have one abruptly meed the sidewalk and shatter, so it's generally a good idea to have your phone protected by a shock-absorbing case or, if nothing else, an insurance plan.
Sometimes, however, neither a protective case or equipment protection plan will prevent damage from being done to the device. For instance, if you decide to take a swim with your device, the chances of it coming out of the water in working condition are slim. You might also lose your grip and just so happen to drop your phone in the most inconvenient place, like my mother, who somehow managed to drop her smartphone in a full cup of sweet tea one day.
The point is, liquid damage is one of the worst things that can happen to your phone. Unlike a cracked screen or busted-up housing, you can't simply take a torx screwdriver to a water damaged phone and expect to fix it with new parts. If something on the inside has shorted out, you have a nice, expensive paperweight.
There are a few last ditch efforts you can use to try and save a waterlogged phone, like pulling the battery and burying it in a Ziploc bag, hoping it will absorb any remaining moisture in the device before it does too much damage. I have also heard – but will not endorse or recommend – that giving your phone an additional bath in isopropyl alcohol will help remove water without causing further damage to the device. Like most cases where you damage an expensive item, there are a million different theories on the best way to fix it. In truth, though, water will cause oxidation when it comes in contact with the metallic components on the bowels of your device. Even if you remove all moisture within a few minutes of soaking the phone, you might face rust and other corrosion that will make the device malfunction over time.
The best way to avoid this is, obviously, to avoid getting your phone wet or leaving it in overly humid or steamy areas. You can also purchase a case like the OtterBox Defender, which resists water (but does not make the device waterproof). Or you could just buy a phone like the Motorola Defy, pictured above sitting quaintly in a glass of water, which does a pretty decent job at keeping moisture out.
Thanks to a new technology that was featured at CES in Las Vegas last week, called WaterBlock, water damage to virtually any electronic could become nothing but a faint memory. HzO, creators of WaterBlock, claim that the technology protects a device's innards on a molecular level by enveloping the internals with a thin, see-through, water-repellent coating. At their booth on the trade show floor, HzO and WaterBlock were met with immense excitement as they dunked several electronic devices, including a Samsung Galaxy S II, in a bowl of water without rendering them useless.
To date, I've only dropped my phone in liquid once. (Knock on wood.) I immediately pulled the battery and dropped it in a bag of rice. It wouldn't turn on for three days. After that, it worked without a hitch for months on end. Other friends of mine weren't so lucky. One of my ex-girlfriends, for instance, dropped her phone in the toilet on more than one occasion, only to completely kill it. My mom lost one of hers to a glass of sweet tea, and so on and so forth.
I was lucky and I don't really have a history of dropping devices in water, but that doesn't mean I don't have the fear of it. We all have that fear. WaterBlock is that peace of mind we've been looking for. The best part of all is that HzO has plans to make WaterBlock a standard feature in run-of-the-mill phones. I think that's deserving of a good ol' golf clap, lads.
Tell me, readers. Have you ever lost your phone to an untimely pool of water? A cup of tea? Were you able to recover it? Or was the water damage too extensive to repair?