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This is How Apple Knows You Dropped Your iPhone in Water

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If you have to take your iPhone into the Apple store for service you might be surprised to watch the Apple Genius pull apart your iPhone and take a look at a small dot on the inside.

This small sensor tells the Apple tech if your phone has been in contact with water, and it’s something that might change in the iPhone 5 thanks to a recent patent.

Right now it’s tough for you to check to see if your iPhone has a tripped water sensor because the indicator sits inside the phone near the SIM card slot. It’s the pink dot in the image below.

iPhone water Sensor dot

The pink sensor inside the iPhone indicates water damage and or exposure.

This phone was sent to SquareTrade for warranty service after coming into contact with water.

Apple depends on these sensors to determine if it will replace your broken iPhone under warranty or not. The standard Apple warranty does not cover water damage, but AppleCare+ and SquareTrade warranties do.

We spoke with Ty Shay, Chief Marketing Office at SquareTrade to learn more about water damaged iPhones and why Apple might make the switch to an external indicator.

Shay told GottaBeMobile that about 20% of SquareTrade’s claims are from water damage, but cautions that full water immersion is not the major killer.

Shay points to factors such as,

  • Humidity,
  • Condensation,
  • Spills,
  • Sweat,

and other activities as common reasons for a tripped water sensor. Even with these non immersion triggers he says the sensors are not overly sensitive.

Spilled drinks at restaurants are increasingly landing on iPhones, and Shay warns that a growing number of restaurants are putting warnings up saying they are not responsible.

If Apple includes the new water sensor in the iPhone 5 or a future iPhone the phone could track events where water damage occurred. This would provide Apple Geniuses with more information about damaged iPhones.

For users it might mean an end to free replacements for under warranty iPhones, if an easier and more accurate sensor is used.

An extended warranty that covers accidental damage is quickly becoming a must have phone accessory for many users.

For a detailed comparison of iPhone warranty and insurance options, check out our iPhone 4S Warranty Showdown.

Josh Smith is Editor of GottaBeMobile and Notebooks.com. He's always looking for ways to help you get the most of your gear and loves to talk about tech on radio and TV. Josh uses an iOS and Android devices as well as Mac and Windows Computers. Josh Smith on Google+ Email: [email protected]

45 Comments

  1. Chris

    07/25/2012 at 11:24 am

    Existing water sensors have always been terrible, at least here in New York. A couple weeks in the humidity of our summers and they almost always trip without anything close to actual immersion, and Apple is hardly the only culprit when it comes to this problem.

  2. PEANU7

    07/29/2012 at 2:11 am

    *Puts tape over sensor*

    *Places iPhone in glass of water*

    *Rings Apple Support*

    • nindotaku

      01/10/2013 at 4:40 am

      the iphone4 used to have this water sensor inside the headphone jack

  3. Maik

    10/24/2012 at 9:12 pm

    Or just create waterproof mobiles like the japanese companies do

    • Pete

      06/14/2013 at 12:42 pm

      Nice typeface.

      • Ty Shay

        06/22/2013 at 11:29 am

        Indeed!

    • Mark

      09/07/2013 at 12:58 pm

      Or you could just spend ten bucks on a “NeverWet” kit and waterproof your own phone.

  4. Andy

    10/26/2012 at 7:59 am

    Try the Photon Q

  5. sasas

    11/11/2012 at 11:50 pm

    rweaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

  6. fred dred

    11/12/2012 at 2:37 pm

    Water proof/ resistant mobiles are the future, my wife’s Samsung Focus Windows Mango phone has done 2x underwater trips in the toilet pan and no problems each time after a couple of nights in a at of rice!

  7. Mike

    11/20/2012 at 11:40 am

    Scam to duck out of repairing devices! I’m glad apple don’t make power carpentry tools as they’d probably put a sawdust sensor in them!

  8. Someone

    11/22/2012 at 6:05 am

    Iphone 4s and 5 are waterproof(almost). look at the tests in youtube, it can stay underwater for quite long time.

    • Another one

      06/18/2013 at 3:32 pm

      yeah just 22sec….thats really long…after that its garbage

      • RANDOM PERSON

        11/26/2013 at 10:34 pm

        Galaxy S4 can stay underwater for a little more than 2 minutes and I’m not even talking about the active variant

  9. Simon

    11/27/2012 at 5:24 am

    “Spilled drinks at restaurants are increasingly landing on iPhones, and Shay warns that a growing number of restaurants are putting warnings up saying they are not responsible.”

    those disclaimers are worth nought if you can prove its their neglect

    The waitress is still responsible, the restaurant has to pay up, they have insurance for this kind of thing.

    • Jo

      02/11/2013 at 9:55 pm

      Those “not responsible” disclaimers never stand the test of law. Never. They ARE responsible the moment you step one toe onto their property. For coats, shopping carts, whatever…

  10. crvich

    12/09/2012 at 1:14 pm

    Umm, maybe you shouldn’t have your expensive electronic devices out where people are trying to serve you food and drinks. Stuff gets spilled, not the waitresses fault you had what’s essentially your computer next to your water glass. I learned about computers + water in elementary school computer lab. I even think they had a big poster up on the wall about it.

    I bet you’d get pissed if the waitress tried to move your phone to another spot on the table too because then she’d be touching your stuff. Some people take no personal responsibility for events they are directly involved in. Please.

    • Jo

      02/11/2013 at 9:57 pm

      Hey smartass….. What about when a bus boy dumps 5 glasses of water onto your lap and your phone, in your pocketbook BEHIND THE SEAT gets splashed with water?

      Put your brain in gear before you put your mouth in drive.

      • Tim

        02/22/2013 at 6:16 am

        crvich makes a valid point about the risks one takes with their electronic gear at a restaurant table.What if you spilled the water? Further, he said “have your expensive electronic devices OUT where people are trying to serve you food and drinks”. Clearly not your situation. I suggest your venom is misdirected and perhaps you should take your own advice.

      • Kelvin Hobbs

        02/24/2013 at 7:44 pm

        He has put his brain into gear; just sounds like you’ve had difficulty understanding his point. Many folks can’t resist flashing their electronic devices about!! And since many waiting staff know that Apple most certainly does not cover liquid splash, spills or immersion of sorts, the smart phone is most certainly a bulls eye for aqueous magnetism–deliberate, accidental, premeditated or other.

        –assertiveness does overshadow stupidity; often.

      • Jim Corbett

        10/27/2013 at 7:19 am

        Or what if you left it at home and the waitress came by and took a leak on it??? Yup, that too would give them some fault too. The other guy was talking about the stupidity of where the phone gets left; not the fact that someone gets it wet. Anyone that would leave their iPhone on a restaurant table should first get a brain to put in gear; if they can figure out how too.

    • John nyerges

      09/29/2013 at 7:46 am

      Well said. People should take some responsibility and use common sense, which seems to be in short supply these days.

  11. Ben

    12/09/2012 at 7:59 pm

    There’s no way applecare covers water damage… not sure why this article says that.

    • Peter

      01/17/2013 at 8:10 am

      AppleCare+ does.

  12. Hec

    12/16/2012 at 11:17 am

    Boobs are better wet

    • Ryan

      06/10/2013 at 3:31 pm

      lol

    • Jon

      09/05/2013 at 10:01 am

      After reading all the other comments I have come to the conclusion that you are the only person who knows what they’re on about

  13. Joe

    12/19/2012 at 4:41 pm

    The reason nobody makes waterproof cellphones is because they are then forced to actually DO the warranty work. They count on that water sensor to be triggered to save them money. Why do you think horribly outdated waterproof phones are almost 700 dollars? They have to make their profit margin, and it’s going to be tight since they’ve got to fix these when they break.

  14. Stanley

    12/26/2012 at 11:21 am

    Get a case that is waterproof even when submerged in water……………

    • Waterproof your ass

      04/08/2013 at 9:18 am

      Yeah that’s it…Lifeproof case for your iphone great investment

  15. Arthur

    12/27/2012 at 4:45 pm

    The motorola defy is completely waterproof ! I filmed fishes during scuba diving with it, you can even listen to music ender water… it would be awesome if they could put much more power in there next release and a bigger screen…

  16. Tim

    02/22/2013 at 11:09 am

    How and why would anyone expect a warranty to cover product misuse and nothing else but manufacturing defects? Especially in this case where the manufacturer does not necessarily tout the product as “waterproof”!!

  17. Pete

    03/16/2013 at 12:17 pm

    Please stop crying over nothing. Just put a drop of Clorox on the red dot and it will turn white again. I am still wondering as to why handset manufacurers bother with moisture indicators.

  18. ShelaghD-B

    05/03/2013 at 1:32 pm

    Interesting for I took my MacBook Pro into Apple last summer for something to be fixed and I was on my last week of Apple Care + as my laptop was a week shy of 3 years.
    They handed it back to me and told me it was a bio hazard because they could smell cigarette smoke. Yes, I am a smoker and I know non smokers will rant and rave that Apple did the right thing but as this was my first laptop It was news to me. No one ever refused working on my desktops because I was a smoker. They actually had the nerve to hand it back to me with medical gloves on as if touching it alone would have them dropping dead of lung cancer.

    Now, before the non smokers pipe in I phoned Apple, complained and they offered me my money back from Apple Cares which I thought was fine or they would extend the warranty period, a week and wanted me to go pay about $100 to a recognized store that would clean it out and then they would fix w hat was necessary. Before people assume I had a dirty computer, I have since found out that most smokers know to open up their laptop themselves and give it a good clean themselves before taking it in, therefore it not being a problem for other smokers, but because i did not know this, I was punished and t old I had to pay $100 or so to have it done professionally.

    Any smokers, be forewarned.
    Secondly, make sure to complain directly to Apple in Head Office otherwise I would never have anyone step out and offer to refund me the Apple Care amount. ;-)

  19. stevelibrandi

    05/16/2013 at 5:06 pm

    you CAN have the sensor replaced before taking it to Apple:)

  20. remidemiMairn

    06/08/2013 at 9:04 am

    I’d encourage hardware manufacturers to build devices that can go whereever their users can go. That means simply watertight and dustproof phones, cameras and such. Happy to see more companies discover this huge “niche”

  21. B.T.S

    06/13/2013 at 6:06 pm

    Or, just disassemble your water damaged phone, use a q-tip and bleach, bleach all the pink stickers back to white, take back to the apple store, get your replacement. #winning

  22. hi damd

    06/14/2013 at 4:14 am

    *Oh no! The waitress just spilled water on my phone! Now I have to tweet it!!*

  23. Merci

    06/26/2013 at 11:12 am

    Lol first world problems.

  24. RJ

    09/09/2013 at 6:04 pm

    Why would anyone want to put their phone next to their plate and utensils? They’re usually crawling in germs and bacteria. Besides, unless your eating alone, it looks like your expecting a call or text…no wonder you’re eating alone.

    • Jhon

      12/11/2013 at 6:37 am

      I place my phone on top of a napkin when dining out

  25. Jennifer

    09/24/2013 at 8:49 pm

    why dont they just make it waterproof? duh!

    • wolflead6

      10/27/2013 at 8:51 am

      Cost? Wonder how much more it cost to do that. I have no idea.

      • Jeff reames

        11/08/2013 at 9:08 pm

        Is this forum for tech talk or just a bunch of pusses that can’t vent anywhere else. Most of u sound like a bunch of hens yacking. !!!

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