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Basic First Aid For Your Smartphone


“It’s all my fault,” Colin stated sadly as he lowered his head into his hands. “I shouldn’t have been in such a rush.”

“It was a freak accident,” his girlfriend said sympathetically.

As Colin sat there, reliving the nightmare over and over in his head, he saw the door open. He quickly stood up to ask from across the waiting area, “Is everything OK?”

The doctor laid his hand on Colin’s shoulder, saying, “We did all we could… “

“You mean… ?”

“Yep,” said the doctor. “We got all the water out and your phone is good as new!”

Scenes like this play out every day, where hundreds of people imagine the absolute worst when their device has been damaged. I don’t blame them. When you see your phone smashed up, you think the chances of it ever working again are equal to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell winning a popularity contest in Louisiana.

Although pessimism is normal, today’s smart devices can often be repaired, even after suffering severe damage.

While not all devices can be saved (Remember that time your baby niece heated up your phone in the toaster after slathering it with butter?), there are things you can do to increase the odds of your device surviving a traumatic event until you are able to bring it to a professional repair technician.


Problem: Liquid damage

Note: A wet device has high potential for short-circuiting if not quickly addressed.

Common Causes: Toilets, sinks, puddles, pools, soft drinks, alcohol.

First Aid: Surprisingly, about 8 out of 10 of all moisture-damaged phones can be saved if the device is powered down and brought in for immediate repair.

Try removing any liquid as soon as possible. If you have access to a vacuum cleaner, you can use it to help suck the liquid out. Avoid using a blow-dryer, as it can push the liquid farther into the crevices of your device. If possible, immediately remove the battery and do not plug the device in. Put your device in a zip-locked bag filled with dry rice or silica packets; the more, the better. These items draw in and absorb moisture and are a good way to save your device.

Leave the device in the bag for a minimum of 24 hours; however, if the device “sank beneath the waves,” as in it was completely submerged, then keep it in for 48-72 hours. Also, place it in a warm area to increase the evaporation speed. But, remember, do not put the battery back in or hook it up to any power source. Even if the device starts working, it’s best to bring it to a repair tech to have someone look it over. Previously wet devices have a high chance of future failure due to what’s left behind after the liquid has evaporated, which can corrode the device’s interior. Be safe-bring it in.

Problem: Software failure

Note: If the phone’s software isn’t working, all you have is an expensive paperweight.

Common Causes: App glitches/bugs, carrier updates, malware, dropped device

First Aid: If you are certain there is no moisture in the device, simply plug it into a charger and perform a “power on” or “hard reset.” Hard resets vary from phone to phone. For an iPhone, hold both the circular “home” button and power button for a minimum of 15 seconds. Many Samsung devices have differing hard reset key functions, but the primary process is holding the power and volume keys for a period of about 10 seconds. Generally, following these simple steps after a tough drop will bring your phone back online.

Problem: Battery issues

Note: The phone isn’t powering on or it’s losing power at a rapid pace

Common Causes: Extended usage, long time between charges

First Aid: Turn your device off at the end of your day and put it on the charger. You’ll find that your phone will fall into a regular cycle of maintaining power throughout the day without having to be plugged in again as soon as you finish your morning coffee. Another option is to charge your device when its battery is at 40 percent, not 10 percent. Recharging when it’s almost dead too often will make the battery do more work and lower its life expectancy. Finally, you can save battery life by dimming your device’s screen. By keeping the brightness level as low as possible, you will help your battery gain more time between charges. Also, turn off all background data, Wi-Fi, GPS or any other apps running behind the scenes. If the battery is still dropping fast after trying these tips, it’s probably time for a battery replacement.

Problem: Hardware failure

Note: Devices fall on hard times just like the rest of us

Common Causes: Concrete, other items in your pocket and/or purse, et cetera

First Aid: Many hardware failures involve a broken screen, cracked case, non-functioning speakers or busted connection ports. Short of using a protective case, you can’t really correct hardware issues without replacing the broken pieces.

If the touch sensor on your front screen is damaged, you will be unable to use the primary functions on your phone and will need to bring it to a repair tech for a quick screen replacement. Depending on the make and model, most broken devices can be fixed within an hour. Of course, you could always try using tape because, you know, tape fixes everything. Kidding.