Smarter Ways to Save a Waterlogged Phone

In general, phones and water don't mix. Sure, some recent models are water resistant, but odds are that your phone isn't. Which is too bad, becuase almost everyone has heard--or experienced--a story in which a smartphone falls into the sink, toilet, swimming pool, or ocean. And then there's this.

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Honestly, we have no idea what's going on in this video, but we wish the phone well.

No matter how your phone meets water, know this: The traditional "fix"--in which you pack a waterlogged phone in rice--has been effectively debunked. It really doesn't work, and if it happens to have worked for your Uncle Fred that one time, odds are that the phone hadn't gotten a lethal dose of water to begin with. It would have been fine with or without wasting a bag of rice.

Consequently, a bunch of enterprising companies have created alternative resuscitation methods which basically fall into two camps: Pouch products containing dessicants (drying agents designed to pull humidity out of the air) such as silica, and quick-dry services that attempt to "boil" the water out of the device.

The traditional advice

Of course, a few of the latest high-end phones offer built-in water resistance. Apple's iPhone 7, for example, provides water resistance at the IP67 level, meaning it can withstand submersion for 30 minutes in up to 3 meters of liquid. The Samsung Galaxy S7 line and Sony's Xperia XZ are claimed to be somewhat more resistant, each carrying ratings of IP68. You can also add water resistance to an older phones with "nanostatic sprays" from companies like Nanostate and Impervious.

If a phone is indeed water resistant, it'll probably be fine if you quickly yank it out of the water after a slip into a sink or bathtub. But even if a phone has a rating of
IP68, what happens if it plunges five feet under water after sliding off of a dock or sailboat, or to the bottom of your neighbor's swimming pool?

When a phone takes a dunk, experts routinely advise that you turn it off and then remove the battery (if it's removable), along with any headphones and SIM or memory cards. Then you should rinse it off, if it's fallen into dirty or salt water. Squeeze out any water you can, open the phone, and place it in a sealed container for a couple of days with some sort of drying agent

All too often, the time-honored method of using regular rice as the drying agent simply doesn't d much. Instead, some suggest using silica. You can find silica in the pet food aisles as crystal-style cat litter. But some companies think they have better ideas about how to bring your phone back to life.

Pouches with Dessicants Inside

Essentially, these products provide you with both a sealable pouch and silica or some similar chemical-based dessicant.

Kensington, for example, claims that its EVAP Rescue Pouch is "700 percent more effective at removing moisture than rice." Other products in the pouch category include the BHEESTIE Bag and the Mach Speed Yikes! Phone and Tablet Rescue.

Judging from user reviews and ratings on Amazon, none of these products work in every situation, but all of them work much of the time. Pricing is low--as little as $7 to $20 per pouch, so it could be worth your while to keep one or two on hand in case of a smartphone emergency. What's more, these pouches are also capable of reviving soggy smartwatches, cameras, tablets, and other electronics.

The concept behind most of these products is similar, but they vary in pouch sizes and recommended drying times. As its name tends to imply, the Yikes! Phone and Tablet Rescue comes with two pouches. One is sized for phones, and the other for tablets. BHEESTIE, in contrast, offers a separate product, the Revive 56g, specifically for tablet- and laptop-sized devices

Kensington suggests allowing six to 24 hours for drying, until a built-in humidity indicator LED lights up to tell you that your phone is ready to get tried again.

BHEESTIE's packets of "molecular sieve dessicant" each contain a few blue beads which turn grey when the product is no longer able to accept more moisture. In addition, BHEESTIE's silver mylar bag offers a gusseted bottom for holding your device upright while it dries.

Quick Rescue Services

If dissicants don't work forn your particular disaster, or if you don't want to spend time giving them a whirl, you might want to take the waterlogged device to a quick rescue service like DryBox or TekDry.

Both services use special equipment that essentially boils the excess liquid out of a phone in around 30 minutes, in a way designed not to damage the phone's components. DryBox has asserted a 70 percent success rate when the phone is serviced within 24 hours of making a plunge.

Unfortunately, San Antonio-based DryBox currently runs only a couple of handfuls of service center kiosks, all located in either Texas or Oklahoma.

TekDry, on the other hand, has a presence at more than 600 Staples stores throughout the nation, and there's a handy web page you can use to search for the one nearest to you. Staples claims a 75 percent success rate for TekDry, and it's low risk, since if your phone doesn't get fixed, you pay nothing. If the service works, however, it costs $70.

Main image: Theodysseyonline