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How to Tell if Your iPhone Suffered Water Damage

Are you planning to buy a used iPhone? Great! Did you think of checking whether your iPhone suffered water damage? Once an iPhone makes contact with liquids or steam, Apple (and others) will be able to check. This affects the kind of warranty repairs you can expect and can be quite detrimental to the value of an iPhone. Apart from warranty issues, there is of course the fact that an iPhone with prior water damage probably won’t live as long as an undamaged unit.

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Thus you should take a minute to learn how to spot iPhone water damage by checking the liquid contact indicator (LCI) on the iPhone in question. Every iPhone starting with first generation up to iPhone X has a LCI installed. This is also a great point to check when you want to sell your iPhone.

Where is the LCI located?

Apple provides a handy table that lists and visually illustrates all of the different indicator positions for the different generations of iPhones. The locations are the same for iPhone, iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS as well as iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. Starting with iPhone 5, iPhone 5C and iPhone 5s the LCI changed position and is now located in the SIM-card slot. If you see a red spot, your indicator has made contact with or detected water/steam in its vicinity. Source:


Are the indicators reliable?

The LCI can be triggered by hot steam, or through other situations in which there is no actual iPhone water damage. Apple has had a history of false positives with its’ 3M-manufactured LCI’s and they’ve had to correct its stance in multiple cases. Users were complaining of being denied replacements on the basis of activated LCI’s, while their units had no contact with water whatsoever. Taking a hot bath or a steamy shower with the iPhone in the same room is the most common cause for a false positive. Since the initial problems however, Apple has improved their procedures and indicator strips. Typically those indicator strips are white or silvery in color and change to red when tripped. Unfortunately, they only serve to give a rough idea of whether the iPhone has been exposed to water.

Water Damage = Loss of warranty

Once the indicators strip was activated your iPhone will no longer be covered by warranty to the full extent. Appls Store employees know where to check for water damage. But as established earlier the strip might have been activated without cause. Proving this might be difficult though.

If you did drop your iPhone and it may have gotten wet you do not have to panic right away. There are a few handy tricks to save your iPhone by drying it out in a controlled manner. Hint: using a blowdryer is not on the list. Learn what to do, when your iPhone got wet.

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