With water damage, you have to decontaminate the logic board before doing anything else, otherwise there will be latent issues down the road. Sometimes water damaged phones will work for a short time before failing completely. That is actually the worst possible scenario because a proper decontamination would have probably saved the phone. Keeping it plugged in just amplifies the corrosion and can kill critical subsystems, leading to a dead phone and possibly lost data.
Not every water-damaged phone is recoverable and depending on the kind of liquid (salty, dirty, filthy), sometimes the success rate is quite low. That said, IMHO, it's always worth a try otherwise we are just piling up the e-waste.
Whatever you do, avoid putting a phone in rice or leaving it sit, drying”, for days on end. The water is inside the phone, on the logic board and under the shields, even under the IC's. The real problem is the mineral deposits that can cause short circuits or the corrosion that is taking place as the water evaporates. Leaving the power on the device accelerates the process. The longer you let a phone sit, the more time you are giving corrosion to damage your logic board. The saltier or harder the water is, the more damage will occur. The water needs to be displaced, not evaporated. Here’s a great video that summarizes these issues.
The proper way to treat a wet phone is to do the following:
- Open your phone and remove the logic board (follow this guide)
- Inspect the logic board, especially around the connectors and look for corrosion.
- Inspect both sides of the board. Unfortunately, most of the board is covered in shields. That's usually where the damage is occurring.
- Put your board in a container with >90% isopropyl alcohol and let it sit for a while.
- Use a soft brush, like a toothbrush and lightly brush away any corrosion you see.
- Rinse in alcohol and repeat.
- Let it air dry for a day.
- Re-assemble and hope for the best.
You should also replace the battery if it has swollen. Resist the temptation to pop it to let the gas out. A compromised Li-ion battery is a fire hazard.
A professional repair shop that does water damage repair may be able to recover your data because they have access to pro-level ultrasonic baths and specialized cleaners as well as the skills to troubleshoot your board. Many shops have a no data/no fee policy so you don't have to spend money to find out if the data is recoverable or not.
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