As if we didn't put our mobile phones through enough. They've fallen on the sidewalk and off of tables, and they've jumped out of our oddly shaped pockets when we step off the bus.
Most mobiles are built to weather these day-to-day beatings, but the vast majority remain decidedly inept at weathering weather; not to mention a rinse cycle or — heaven forbid — the toilet. Even if things don't look so promising after your phone goes skinny dipping, you might as well try your damndest to save it while you can.
Color Me Bummed
Some cellphones, including the Motorola Razr, actually have an indicator telling you how wet your phone really is. There's a little open hole near your battery that's supposed to be as white as snow. If that fella is red (and it will be if your phone is beyond repair or near death), it might be time to move quickly to the emergency room or start dipping into your rainy-day fund.
Manufacturers put these moisture indicators in phones so that they may deny your warranty claim in the event the device was damaged by water.
First Things First
Electronic devices, being the pesky little beasts they are, seem to hate water. Therefore, cut the power to your waterlogged device immediately by removing the battery. Don't even think about trying to turn it on to see if it works, because this will probably end up shorting any circuits that were still up and running. Remove the SIM card as well. Even if your phone is toast, all your contacts might still be retrievable.
Now that you’ve got your battery trapdoor open, and the battery and SIM card (most SIM cards are actually made of paper or plastic) are drying out on their own, it's time to focus on your prime directive: Dry this thing now. If you just let it sit out, your phone might just corrode itself to death. So you have to move quickly to make sure all the water that found its way into your phone is coaxed out through roughly the same channels. This will minimize the damage.
Don't Eat 'Em, But…
So, you know those annoying little silica packets that kind of (we said kind of!) look like salt and pepper? The ones you find in your shoeboxes, purses, and jacket pockets? The ones you’re so not even supposed to think about eating?
They might be your least invasive, most reliable bet in the realm of cellphone panic, as their purpose in life is to sop up moisture where it shouldn’t be. Throw a few of these with your phone in a sealed sandwich bag, and let it sit in a warm, dry place for a few days. No silica packets? A bunch of uncooked rice will do the same thing.
Ah, the eternal question. The answer is that effectiveness varies. Most say no to the hair-dryer option, as its hair-frying heat might kill the delicate parts in your device. There are mixed reviews on low-pressure cans of compressed air, mostly because many swear that pushing water in (instead of sucking it out) will do even more damage. A handheld vacuum cleaner might do the trick as well. If you’re in a warm, dry place already, even better: Keep your phone away from direct light and it’s sure to dry efficiently.
In the Future
The crystal ball says more-water-resistant phones are likely to crop up in the near future. Meanwhile, some good news: there are actually a handful of decent ones on the market already, including the Motorola Adventure and the Casio G'zOne, with more cropping up (and being reviewed) every day.
The bad news, however, is that few of these water-resistant phones are the sexy ones anyone actually wants to have. So keep those Droids and iPhones under the umbrella and away from the pool for now.