The realisation that there is a difference between water-proofing and water-resistance can for many people come far too late. While many modern smartphones are now certified for protection against water ingress, at least for a time, many more are simply splashproof, and a dunk in the bath or a swimming pool can still mean a death sentence for these devices.
Before your phone or other tech gets anywhere near the water, make sure you have checked and you know its water-resistance rating. This will be expressed in the specification as an IPXX number. The first X here is for solid particles such as dust, and goes as high as 6. The second X is for water-resistance, and goes from a scale of 0 to 9, where 0 is zero protection and 9 is the most complete protection available.
The most common is perhaps IP67, with the 7 here meaning a device can be immersed in water of up to 1m depth for up to 30 minutes. IP68 means it can withstand depths of up to 1.5m, again for 30 minutes. The top rating of IP69K means it can also survive high-temperature or powerful jets of water.
In each of these cases, water-resistance is guaranteed only to a certain depth and for a certain period of time. That doesn't mean they will suddenly falter when the clock hits 31 minutes, or you go 2m underwater, just that they could, and they won't be under warranty. It's at this point that you could find yourself in need of our handy tips for drying out a wet phone.
What to do when your phone gets wet
Before you try any of these tips, note that there is one very important thing you should not do: under no circumstances should you try to use your wet phone.
Take it out the water, immediately turn it off, remove any accessible parts such as the SIM, then dry it off as much as you can on a towel or sleeve. Gently shake water from its ports.
How to dry out a wet phone
This isn't an urban myth: rice is amazing at sucking up water. Grab a big bowl, then into the bowl goes your wet phone and enough rice to adequately cover it. Now forget about it for 24 hours.
Only when the time is up should you attempt to switch on the device. If it doesn't work, stick it back in the rice and try again the following day. On the third or fourth unsuccessful attempt you should begin to consider noting the time of death.
You could also substitute rice for silica gel (you'll probably find some packets of this in the box for the last pair of trainers or handbag that you bought).
If you have a nice warm airing cupboard in your house, leaving your device in there for a day or two could help draw out the unwanted moisture. The key word here, though, is 'warm': avoid anything 'hot'.
Tips that will not dry out your wet phone
- Do not put a water-damaged phone in the tumble dryer (even inside a sock or a pillow case)
- Do not leave your wet phone on the radiator
- Do not heat up your wet phone with a hair dryer
- Do not put your wet phone in the freezer
If all else fails and you're now in need of a new phone, check out our round-up of the best waterproof phones.