My Phone: a Memorial

July 6, 2006

Last winter I dropped my phone. In the toilet. In the ladies room at work. Upon retrieval, the little LG was speaking in tongues and displaying scenes from 2001 Space Odessey. I turned it off, I turned it on, and it had a message: Service Required. So I called my provider (I won’t give away the name, but it sounds a lot like “Verizon Wireless”) and they told me the only thing they could do was sell me a new phone, at full price.

No. I took the phone home, removed the battery and put it in the oven for a good bake on the “warm” setting, followed by a half hour in front of the blow dryer. It sprang back to life. I thought that was pretty cool, although the first friend I called wanted to know if I’d washed the phone before dialing. I guess he was worried about getting toilet germs in his ear.

I had six more months with my phone until May rolled around and it went dead again. I took it to the Verizon Wireless store for repair. The rep took the battery off the back and shot me an accusing stare: “This phone got wet!” It turns out there’s a little white dot on the inside of the phone that turns pink when submerged. The only thing he could do was sell me a new phone, at full price. So I took it home. Oven, blow dryer. Ta-da.

This time the effect didn’t last as long. Two or three weeks would go by and then the phone would need another treatment. My guess is that it collected moisture faster in the summer humidity. But we were making do until this past weekend when I put it in the oven with the battery on, and forgot about it. The phone came out blazing hot and made one final call before it died for good.

But there was some payoff. Apparently, those extra months put me far enough along in my contract to qualify for an early upgrade. Instead of paying the full suckers-only price for my new silver RAZR phone tonight (I know, the RAZR was hot two years ago, before they invented telepathy) I paid the new subscriber price, saving roughly $1 billion. Winnah!

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63 Responses to “My Phone: a Memorial”

  1. Nick Says:

    Just so you know, heating the lithium ion battery, even to around 200 degrees, was really dangerous. It could have exploded and ruined your oven or caused other serious damage.

  2. Little Moo Says:

    That was the kill-joyest comment I ever read.

  3. Per Says:

    Did you throw the old one away? What happens if you microwave it?

  4. range Says:

    Phones always seem to want to drop. It’s like ketchup and suede jackets, they are metaphysically attracted to one another.


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  6. RP Says:

    Moral of the Story: Don’t use the phone while on the toilet.

  7. Justin Says:

    I did this once in the toilet at work too. Mine on the other hand did not want to fix. All I got out of it was a $300 bill for a new phone and a pair of dirty hands.

  8. MattMax Says:

    Role like Zach Morris and rock the Audiovox tri-mode from the 80’z. It’s a solid brick, but the battery life lasts forever. I love it… XCept for 1 thing – I can’t txt people + when ppl txt me I can’t C thier #.

    However, texting is lame so it is no loss.

  9. Laurens Says:

    The thing to do is to ‘wash’ the phone clean with distilled water before you dry it. All the calcium and salts etcetrea then come out.

    The way you did it probably left some dry salts on spaces where one wouldn’t want them. These then attracted the moisture when the air got moistier in summer.

  10. aharon Says:

    You have an INORDINATE volume of comments on yor blog.

  11. aharon Says:

    I spelled “your” incorrectly.

    I regret NOTHING!

  12. NOBODY! :D Says:

    As someone who used to work in cell phone and small electronics repair, I’ll say your methods are at least mostly correct. However, not all cell phones are well protected against corrosion, and some boards are completely coated in adhesive which acts beyond (perhaps not?) its purpost of stabilizing the components, to adding water resistance. However, the phones without any kind of stabilizing agent have exposed leads which may short the phone. Also, it forrosion sets in, it may do unreversible dammage quite rapidly. Expedience in rescuing the phone is mandatory for this purpose! Ah … if minor xidation does occur, a bit of acetone/paint thinner with an electronics cleaning brush (nothing too abbraisive) can work wonders in removing at least most of it.


  13. [...] I Had an Idea This Morning » Blog Archive » My Phone: a Memorial (tags: Funny Mobile Phone) Posted by Diane Filed in Delicious [...]

  14. Jeff Says:

    on a totally irrelevant tangent, this entry got me thinking about a certain ball-busting but very cute PR flack i dated in NYC two years ago, who just HAPPENED to work for the most hated telecom company in the Northeast… ah well.

  15. Rohit Sharma Says:

    I can vouch for this! Dropped my Nokia 6188 in the can three years ago, took out immediately and left it in the sun, and a few hours later… it was dead.

    But by the time I got to the store to buy a new phone the next morning, it was working just fine and has ever since. They don’t make em like they used to ;)

  16. gillian Says:

    We have this blackberry at work that the on-call person has to carry around. It’s been dropped in the toilet at least once. The culprit swears the toilet was still clean. Every time I see that pager, though, I think of how it fell in the toilet.

    It did work after, though. They just let it dry for a bit, no oven necessary.

  17. jchinique Says:

    Somehow my Nokia 3200 (American Idol) phone snuck into the washing machine last year. When I discovered it after the spin cycle, I opened the back, took out the battery and left the whole thing to dry overnight. Zero problems. Still works like a charm. Sadly, I no longer use it (who can resist the charm of a pretty RAZR?)

  18. Mark Sarkisian Says:

    Wow! so strange! I am a phone seller / technician, (I do it myself, I am not affiliated with any company) but I currently only sell verizon phones (new and used). I put an add on my ebay page saying I fix phones, and got so many calls asking about it that I made a website. It took a few hours, and I decided today I would revise it. Spent a few more hours on it, then I was thinking “I should publish this to google”. So I typed in google “cell phone water damage” and found this page. I figured I would post a link to my site, so you know what really went on with ur phone before it passed away. Here is my site, I am not advertising here, but this really explains in detail everything you want to know about water damage. Enjoy! http://www.geocities.com/mds33200/waterdammage.html

  19. Lisa Richter Says:

    The first week of July, my RAZR was quickly submerged into water – fell into the water and was submerged for less than 15 seconds. It has not worked since. I’ve left it in a hot car hanging from a string hanging from the rear view mirror – weather was over 100 degrees. I’ve also stored it in an up-right position and plugged in! Still nothing. Could it be too late? It’s officially dead?

  20. imanidiot Says:

    I was an idiot and decided to take my cell phone with me down the river. I thougt I was being clever by putting it in a ziplock bag. during a calm section the phone rang so I tried to answer it but then we hit some whitewater. in my haste to steer the craft. (I was the only one with a paddle) I mustve forgot to re-seal the bag because by the next calm section the phone bag was competely filled with water. at this point I was disgusted and just left the thing in there. my phone stayed submerged for about 2 hours. When I got back to my truck I tried to turn it on. Nothing! Then I had an Idea and typed ‘wet cell phone’ into google and found out by internet consensus that the best thing to do was to bake it in the oven at 125 degrees (f) for five hours. I did this and my phone works again perfectly. the only thing I noticed is that there is still some water in the display.

  21. KadetskySue Says:

    I can’t bellieve this! The article on the phone got the most comments! What does this say?
    Well, it’s interesting that when the USA tightens the air security, phones are allowed on board the planes, but shampoo, toothpaste and gel handcleaner are not allowed.

  22. Johnny Says:

    Cell Phone Repair aka Universal cellular are CROOKS –
    DON’T SEND YOUR PHONE TO THIS REPAIR SHOP – THEY ARE REFURBISHING USED PHONE AND SELLING THEM TO THE PUBLIC AS NEW. THE BETTER BUSINESS BUREAU IN ORLANDO, FLORIDA HAVE OVER 200 COMPLAINTS ON FILE ON THIS COMPANY. IN ADDITION, THERE ARE OTHER AGENCIES THAT HAVE BEEN RECIEVING NUMEROUS COMPALINT ON THIS FACILITY. THE OWNER IS A SCAM ARTIST. I HAVE SPOKEN TO MANY OF THERE CUSTOMERS AND THEY HAVE ALSO TOLS ME THAT THERE HAVE BEEN WAITING FOR THEIR OWN PHONES FOR OVER A YEAR. THE OWNER MR. KWATERSKI REFUSES TO RETURN E-MAILS INQUIRIES, OR PHONE CALLS. SO BEWARE OF THIS REPAIR PLACE. DON’T BEMISLEAD BY THEIR FALSE ADVERTISEMENTS.

  23. Crystal Says:

    Found this site online. Dropped my phone in a cup of ice water. Powers on but the key pad doesnt work. Ive experienceed water damage before and stopped working before threw it in a drawer tryed to get phone info out and keypad worked again. After reading the site ill trying the oven to dry it out quicker this time. Wish me good luck!!!

  24. Crystal Says:

    Well, its me Im back. After nearly 2hrs, my phone working again. Placed it in the oven (setting warm) without battery or sim card leaving oven door open. I would say every 30 to 40 mins i would place battery and sim card back in it and power it on… Oh by the way i have a oldie but goodie nokia 6820 with the flip out key board. I wouldnt trade this phone for any other. I also worked for AT&T, AT&T Wireless,Cingular now back to AT&T (full cirlce name change) – older nokia’s are by far the toughest cell phone evey made. Few returns and technical issues with the older Nokia’s… Like the old Timex commerical takes a licking and keep on ticking….. Yeaaaaah…..

  25. Rickster Says:

    I once read somewhere that in a five-year period 8 million cell phones fell into toilets in England. That seems a little high. I was researching that factoid when I found your blog. Now I think maybe the number is not so high, given the amount of traffic here!

  26. Chelsea Says:

    I had my razr v3 in my sweatshirt pocket and my brother PUT MY SWEATSHIRT IN THE LAUNDRY. it took me about, 2 minutes to realize that and i got my phone out of the washer.. it turns on but the keypad and screen are still damamged. i replaced the little white dots and everythihng, lets hope verizon takes it back!


  27. [...] My Phone: a Memorial [I Had an Idea This Morning via Lifehack.org] [...]

  28. MurderfaceXcore Says:

    After only haveing my new razr for two days it falls into the toliet I quickly got it out and tried turning it on and then turning it off and takeing the batterie out. it didnt begin working until around 3 hurs later its been 5 hours now and the store Verizon wouldnt take it back but would only sell me a new one for full price. So i came home and began blowdrying it and now its sitting in my oven (with the batterie out) for then next 30 minutes. It seems to work but it wants to keep going into camera mode.

  29. didiann Says:

    Same thing happened, phone got wet. Take a hole punch, punch out a self adhesive dot (used a blank space on a white address label, like the ones you get in the mail for donations to charities) and stick it directely over the pink dot on your cell phone. Work for me, my phone was still under warrenty, and I now have a new phone. TaaDaaa

  30. mjh80401 Says:

    My razr v3 also went in the toilet. Technician took it appart and the dots inside had turned red, but the dot behind the battery was not red. Technician said 50/50 with razr water damage; usually something ends up not working. Phone came back on and works fine, except now it wont charge the battery when plugged in. Luckily we have 2 razr v3s (got ‘em both free when signing up for family plan) and so I charge the battery in the other working phone. I found used cell phones advertised all over the net – just check em out first.

  31. Dan B. Says:

    Guy painting our house just dropped his cell phone in his paint bucket…oil-based paint. He had it in his shirt pocket and he was leaning over, and in it went. I found this site looking for something to help him out. He really needs the phone, too, because all his business calls come to that number during the day when he’s working. He fished it out and spent about 5 minutes wiping it off, used a little paint thinner and some Q-tips on the nooks and crannies, and it seems to be good as new, except a bit of a patina that’s not at all inappropriate for a painter. Guess maybe the relative thickness of the paint compared to water saved him.

  32. Jen Says:

    Where is the sim card on a RAZR?

  33. bob Says:

    its in the battery


  34. the simcard is not in the battery, its under the battery door. if you remove it ull see a little card that says “cingular” or “t mobile”. Keep in mind that only GSM phones have simcards (gsm- cingular, t mobile, nextel I believe, ect). CDMA providers like Verizon, US Cellular, alltel, telus, cricket do NOT have simcards because they use different technology.

    ps. I originally posted a few months back (see previous post by me) and I updated my water damage repair page. This page explains what occurs when you power up a water damaged phone, even after it is dry. http://www.drcelly.com

    I do agree with the above post saying beware of who you send your phone to, if anyone would like to take advantage of my repair services but is sceptical, I can always list the repair service on ebay, so there is doccumented proof that you are sending it in. My ebay score is over 1,700 so that should say something in itself. ps my ebay user name is mds33200

    contact info:
    Mark Sarkisian
    mds33200@yahoo.com
    Water / Liquid damage technician

    http://www.drcelly.com
    http://www.geocities.com/mds33200/waterdammage.html

  35. hey Says:

    i think the best method is just leave it dry for a month. i though mine was dead until i turned it on a month later and realized it’s good as new. but i was phoneless for a month.

  36. val Says:

    my sister dropped her sony ericsson in the bath. phone wouldn’t work so she put it on the rediator for absolute ages including the battery. now the phone’s been working for about a couple of month and it suddenly stopped after my 2year old niece played with it(without her being aware lol). now she blames her for ruinning the phone(she’s not mad at her though). she thinks my niece must have pressed a button to make th ephone not to work and wouldn’t listen to any other theories.

    this morning my brother also dropped his motorola razor(spanking new phone in water0. i’ve had to give him my spare phone to use now and his comes up but he can’t enter his pin number as buttons won’t work. the white dot on the back of the phone is still pure white( how long does it take for it to turn red or pick?) does this mean the phone will work when its dry? i’m not too sure whether to advise him to stick it in the oven.

  37. val Says:

    all phones should made water resistant

  38. lauren Says:

    So pretty much if I have a RAZR and I dropped it in water, I’m out of luck?
    Wonderful.
    It’s like my life line.
    :(:(:(

  39. Dan Says:

    I just purchased the Casio G’zOne phone that is designed to get wet and still work. I ran it under some water and it did not affect the phone. Check out the phone at casio.com web site.

  40. AV Says:

    My friend was drunk and dropped hers in a very used johnny on the spot. She didnt even care if it worked or not. With poo basically all over it she just got a new one. It did actually work though after she rinsed it but she used gloves but just got a new one since it had been covered in poo. This is totally true. Top that story.

  41. gina Says:

    A month ago I spilled a drink on my razor. It just started working yesterday. Who knows for how long, but it’s very exciting.

  42. I'm a Unicorn! Says:

    I dropped my phone in the toilet a few days ago. The toilet was clean and I grabbed the phone out. I took the battery out about 20 minutes later when I got home and I tried to let it dry. I put the battery in and sometimes a bright light comes on at the flash area. I’m still trying to let it dry out but I might just have to buy a new phone for 79 dollars.

  43. Andy Says:

    My wife accidentally got her phone wet. I managed to repair it and so I put together this step-by-step guide:

    http://www.thepriors.idps.co.uk/repair_wet_phone/repair_wet_phone.html

    It might work for you!

  44. wwarren92 Says:

    well, I just (5 min ago) dropped my v3c (Alltel) into the toilet (many explitives said). And like aforely mentioned, the dots were red, and so im letting it dry as I speak…

    maybe now I can get a Q…

  45. kywoman Says:

    Today I was travelling and discovered my EnV phone was missing. Turned around and went back to the fast food restaurant I had just left and sure enough, it had been turned in – after being fished out of the toilet. :-( I didn’t know I should’ve taken the battery out, but left it on the dashboard the next 3 hours. Called Verizon and was told it’s probably dead, but to take battery off and dunk it in denatured alcohol and let it sit a couple of days. Couldn’t find denatured alcohol at the drugstore, only rubbing, so I’ve got it out on the front porch in 90 degree heat. Should I try the oven or just let it sit? Anybody else heard of the denatured alcohol? The agent said it’ll help things dry out quicker. If so, where can you buy it?

  46. Anonymous Says:

    Holy horsecrap, DO NOT PUT ANY BATTERY IN YOUR OVEN, unless of course you want a new house and have good insurance.

    kyman

  47. kywoman Says:

    Oops – my wording was wrong. I was to take the battery off the phone and then dunk the phone in the alcohol – not the battery. That first message was Friday and I didn’t do anything but let the phone sit and dry. Yesterday I tried it but it didn’t come on. I plugged it in and the phone works as long as it’s plugged in. Went to Verizon and they said not to bother paying $40 for a new battery because the phone will eventually die. Could be a week, could be a month, but it will. Anybody had experience with the EnV phone to know if this is true or should I get the new battery?


  48. I accidentally went swimming with a cell in my pocket — whoops!

  49. pris Says:

    i dropped my phone in orange juice and then dropped it in water to rinse off, put in ove and it does work. except the screen is still messed up on my razor. but hey oh well at least i don’t have to cancel service yet and pay those a- holes any more money than i need to. ps f**k ATT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  50. steph Says:

    My 3 year old flushed my lg phone down the toilet today. We took the toilet off the floor but couldn’t find it. Finally found it still inside the toilet. I guess it had been submerged for at least 4 hours before realizing it was missing. We did the blowdryer it worked for maybe a half hour and then stopped. It will not charge. I am trying the oven method now. Wish me luck only had the phone for 6 months.

  51. calej Says:

    Splash!!!

    I can’t believe how many people did the exact same super silly thing I just did. The problem with me is that I hesitated but i guess it was in the toilet bowl for just 5 seconds. I am waiting it out before I try the oven thing. Hope hope hope :)

  52. Tracy Prater Says:

    Thank U sooooo Much! For helpin me with My Brand New Razor! I literally had it for like 5 hrs and My Husband Dropped it in the Toliet it was only in there for a matter of a Second and I went to ASK.COM and urs question and Answer was the First one I read and I did It and it works Perfect thank u SO much!! God Bless U and Have a Wonderful Year!

    Your Truly Tracy and Leeson Prater! If u Ever need any advice Please don’t hesitate Email me and I will help U! I am A good Listener and A Good Advice Giver!!!! Please Let me help u any time Chic!!! thanks again! I really Couldn’t thank u enough!


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  55. Rahul Says:

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