How (Not)to Fix a Water Damaged Cell Phone

So I washed my cell phone again. It isn’t as if I don’t have a special place to put it, because I do. I just don’t use it all the time. That being the case, when I wash my clothes, I always check my pockets to make sure I don’t wash my cell phone or my wallet. But this time I missed the cell phone and the wallet too. I washed them both.

I’ve done this twice before, but this time I was prepared. After the last time, i bought a special dehumidifying pouch on the Internet. It took me a while to find where I’d put it, but, when I did, I read the instructions which said to remove the battery and the sim card from the phone before putting it in the pouch.

Needless to say, this was a race against time where every second counts. The longer the innards of the phone stay wet, the more likely they are to corrode. I’d already wasted too much time finding the dehumidifying pouch, but at least I could still see my home page when I powered the cell phone off. I kicked myself about not doing that first thing. Anyway, I found the pouch, read the instructions, and learned that I needed to remove the sim card and battery. The sim card came out pretty easy, but I couldn’t get to the battery because the back of the phone won’t come off.

Being a modern-day guy, I immediately went go to YouTube to see someone demonstrate how to change the battery of a DSL cell phone like mine. I found a guy who seemed to know what he was doing. He didn’t even use any tools, just his fingernails. He showed me a special notch on the side of the phone where I could pry the back of the cell phone off, and it took him only a minute to reach the battery and take that out as well. I didn’t see a special prying notch on my phone, but I was able to get my thumbnail into the crack where the back of the phone was attached until it–my thumbnail that is–started breaking. Then I get a flashlight and looked for the evasive special notch. I still didn’t see it.

I was able to open the crack just enough to slide in a credit card. I’d used this credit card method to take the backs off of electronic devices before, but this time it didn’t work. I went downstairs and find a screwdriver, and, with a little elbow grease, the back of the cell phone popped open. It was only then that I realized that, unlike the cell phone in the YouTube demonstration, the back of my cell phone had been glued down.

Removing the battery from the cell phone wasn’t any easier. The guy on YouTube may have popped his battery out with his fingernail, but I couldn’t even get it mine out with a screwdriver. As I went back downstairs to find a larger screw, I realized my attempt to save my cell phone had turned into an irrational quest to remove a battery that didn’t want to be moved. Still, I had to take it out. I’d gone too far to just quit.

This time I did my prying in the tool room rather than upstairs, and, little by little, I got the battery to budge, not without a little damage, but at least it started moving.

Then all of sudden, and with little warning, the battery started throwing sparks, and I threw it down in a burst of angry flames. The light show lasted about a minute, after which it was limp and reduced to perhaps a quarter of its former size, quite obviously never to be revived. The entire basement smelled like burning rubber, and I hoped my wife wouldn’t notice when she came home from work. After all, I knew it would be embarrassing enough to tell her that, for the third time, I’d put a cell phone through the washing machine, especially since she’d told me, many times over, that I need to take the cell phone out of my pocket every day just as soon as I get home and put it in its special place. And I do have a special place, a special compartment attached to the wall.

I brought the charred phone and battery back upstairs, put them under the kitchen faucet and watched them sizzle. Then I carefully dissected the damage, sort of like the like the fire department does after large disasters to see if they can determine the cause of a fire. I read some information on the phone to the effect that the cell phone battery was not supposed to every be replaced.

I liked that cell phone. I wondered if I could have saved it I’d read that message on the side of the phone and put it in the special dehumidifying pouch without even trying to pop off the back. I guess I’ll never know. Of course, as my wife said when she got home, I need to get in the habit of taking my cell phone out of my pocket just as soon as I get home. Lesson learned. Again.

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