Ask LH: Is Water Trapped Inside My Phone?

Hey Lifehacker, Recently the right-hand edge of my Samsung S4 seems to have changed in a way I would describe as "misting up". I suspect a little bit of water somehow entered my phone. Is this possible, and is there a risk my phone will be damaged? Thanks, Mistified

Photo: Samsung

Dear Mistified,

The misting effect could be caused by minor water damage or it could be an electrical fault in the touch screen caused by overheating. The fact your phone still works suggests that the problem is superficial — and therefore fixable. If some fog or water managed to get inside the display, you might be able to resolve the issue by removing the screen and giving the underside a clean.

The site iFixit has detailed instructions on how to tear down the S4's display assembly without breaking the phone in the process. This is a fairly complicated process that involves the removal of myriad screws, clips and peripheral components before carefully prying the display loose. If you don't regularly tinker with electronics, we'd recommend getting a tech-savvy friend to lend a helping hand (along with their tiny screwdriver kit!)

Naturally, if the phone starts playing up in other ways, such as erratic shutdowns and unexplained heat spikes, you should either send it in for professional repairs or cut your losses and buy a new phone. We're sure you'll agree that getting electrocuted isn't worth saving a few bucks. (Incidentally, your phone's successor happens to be waterproof, which could make it a worthwhile option.)

If any readers have experienced similar issues with their phones, let Mistified know how you handled it in the comments section below.

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    Before you jump straight in and start unscrewing everything you could try the same trick recommended for people who accidentally drown their phones.

    Put it in an airtight bag with some rice - or better, those little desiccant satchels you get with new shoes etc. - and leave it for 24-48 hours. In theory, this will absorb any residual moisture without you having to disassemble anything.

    Or, microwave it to turn the moisture into steam which will gently escape from the charging port.

    j/k, do not microwave your phone....

    Or just hook it up to the vacuum cleaner and suck the lights out it.

    My Samsung Galaxy Note 3 will some times randomly reboot but it's a rare event, I also have a problem where it will randomly press buttons after waking from sleep but putting it back to sleep then waking it up fixes that so I don't feel the need to send it in for warranty replacement, I just don't expect to buy a Samsung phone again.

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