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iPhone Water Damage Settlement Leads to Cash for iPhone Owners



iPhone users refused an in warranty repair due to faulty water sensors on the iPhone and iPod touch may see a payment of around $200 as part of a class action settlement. Apple and others should file this in the coming weeks.

The iPhone’s water sensor is still Apple’s first step in checking if an iPhone is eligible for a warranty, and the sensor in the first three iPhone models sold would turn pink and indicate water contact from humidity, rather than actual exposure to water.

Apple placed this sensor tape in the headphone and charging jacks on the iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS as well as the first three generations of the iPod Touch. This sensor is made by 3M, which reportedly admitted that humidity would turn the sensor from white to pink.

Read: This is How Apple Knows You Dropped Your iPhone in Water

If this sensor was pink when an Apple employee examined the iPhone or iPod touch, the user would need to pay for a repair rather than getting the iPhone fixed under warranty. This issue applied to the standard 12 month warranty and the Apple Care warranty which did not cover water damage until the release of the iPhone 4S in 2011.

According to Wired, the settlement could mean cash payouts to iPhone owners to the tune of around $200 if eligible to join the class action lawsuit. The settlement reportedly includes a $53 million payout from Apple, though the company admits no wrong doing. The actual payout to iPhone owners could be lower or as high as double, depending on how many join the settlement.

The image below shows one of the sensors in an iPhone 4S, which is how Apple knows the iPhone was in water. The new iPhone models also include indicators in the headphone jack and charging ports.

iPhone water Sensor dot

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

While the lawsuit doesn’t cover new phones, the iPhone 4, iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 still use similar sensors. When Gotta Be Mobile spoke to SquareTrade, a third-party iPhone warranty service, the company reported that about 20% of claims are for water damage.

Ty Shay, Chief Marketing Office at SquareTrade told Gotta Be Mobile that much of the damage is not from a full immersion in water, but from;

  • Humidity,
  • Condensation,
  • Spills,
  • Sweat,
  • and other factors.

Shay told Gotta Be Mobile that the sensors are not over sensitive, and given the eligibility list for settlement claims, it appears that Apple is able to use better sensors in the newer iPhone models. Apple recently patented a better sensor which could track events where water damage occurred, but it is not in the iPhone 5.

Until the lawsuit settlement is filed there are no details on how to file a claim for payout. When we know more about how to join the class action lawsuit for iPhone water damage sensors we will share the details.



  1. David

    09/25/2013 at 2:44 pm

    I have a similar situation with my 4s. I went to my local Apple Store to trade my phone in on a 5s and the manager told me I couldn’t trade because my phone had water damage. It’s never been dunked in water. I got the song and dance about moisture from various sources, etc. Bottom line – no value; no trade. This seems to be very similar to the 3s class action lawsuit. Anybody else have this same issue?

  2. chuckles

    11/15/2013 at 2:37 pm

    I got the same spiel from my local dealer, that my phone had water damage when it has never been dropped in water.

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