Will My Vacation Be Ruined If My iPhone Gets Wet?
Would your vacation be ruined if your iPhone gets wet? Unfortunately, we learned the answer to this on our stay in Grand Cayman.
We have several different cameras. What we travel with depends on where we are doing and what we are doing. But my iPhone is a major source of our photos. And is used for real time social media updates. I certainly went into a bit of withdrawal when my iPhone got wet. We managed to work around it. But it was an expensive lesson.
Cameras We Travel With
People comment regularly on our photos. And we are often asked about the cameras we use. David’s main camera is a Canon D80. This is the current version of a long line of Canon DSLR cameras. Over the years we have added telephoto and wide angle lenses. If we want to capture a full range of photos, we need the Canon with us. I count on David to get that perfect zoomed shot when we can’t get quite close enough.
We added a Nikon A900 camera for those times when we don’t want to haul a full bag of camera gear with us. With a 35 times optical zoom and 20 megapixel resolution, it does a good job and is a much more portable option. That 35 times zoom is good. But it does require a stable shooting platform.
So for every trip, we have an option if my iPhone gets wet.
Cameras We Know Can Get Wet
We love to snorkel and scuba dive. Over the years, we bought and discarded a number of specifically designed underwater cameras.
A few years ago we inherited a Canon G11 camera. We didn’t need it for our main camera, So we went online and bought a used underwater Canon housing designed for this camera. The camera even had a special underwater mode to help improve the colours underwater. When this camera got wet and stopped functioning, we upgraded to a used G12 that fit the same underwater enclosure.
When we go back and look at our older scuba diving pictures, we have seen steady improvement in our underwater photography. We have such great underwater images from scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, snorkelling around the underwater statues in Grenada and exploring the world underwater scenery below the Pitons in St Lucia. There was no real need to replace the G12 as our main underwater camera.
With a good option for underwater photography, why would I take my iPhone scuba diving? Did I think about what it would mean if my iPhone gets wet?
Looking For A Second Underwater Camera
On our last trip to Grand Cayman for scuba diving, we wanted to add a second underwater camera. David gets great shots. But I often have a different view than he does.
We spent some time considering a GoPro. We learned a lot of good things about the camera, such as it has an external mic for your gopro camera. But we really have not got into video yet. So I really wanted the GoPro mostly for still photos underwater. We were not sure if that justified buying a dedicated action camera. So we tested the theory with a ‘cheap’ knockoff GoPro like camera.
As we explored the water sports at the Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, we tested out the knockoff GoPro. And quickly discovered it was crap. The screen was impossible to see. Every couple of pics I had to reset the camera. And the resolution just was not adequate. This was not going to be my new underwater camera.
I was so frustrated with the knockoff, I thought about using my iPhone underwater. But really did not stop to think about what would happen if my iPhone gets wet.
Taking My iPhone Scuba Diving
David bought an underwater enclosure for his older iPhone 6 Plus. It was rated for scuba diving. But we mostly used it for snorkelling. It was hard to see underwater and the buttons never seemed to work easily.
I popped my iPhone 7 Plus into the underwater enclosure. The two phones are a bit different. But the enclosure seemed to close ok. When we put the phone underwater, no air bubbles came out. I thought I was good to go.
We started our scuba diving in Grand Cayman with a shore dive. I passed the phone into the water and got my first picture as we climbed down the ladder. I was looking forward to scuba diving with my iPhone.
My iPhone Got Wet Scuba Diving
I took a few underwater pics as we swam through the shallow waters. Not more than 5 minutes into our scuba dive, I pulled up the phone to take a picture. And immediately saw water in the case. In retrospect, we should have stopped right away. But I put the camera inside my wetsuit and we swam on.
It was a great scuba dive along the coral reef. And down the wall in Grand Cayman. David got some great shots. But I was already worrying about what the process was if your iPhone gets wet.
When we finally surfaced and climbed to shore, I rinsed the iPhone in clean water. And stood it up. Water dripped out from the bottom for over an hour. I left it turned off and prayed. I was about to find out what really happens if my iPhone gets wet scuba diving.
Hope And Then Despair
When we got back to the hotel, i used my iPad to read about what to do if your iPhone gets wet. I stood it up in a dry spot and kept it turned off for over 6 hours. There was lots of battery left, so I did not need to plug it in.
I turned the iPhone on after 6 hours and it powered up. It looked like there may be a bit of damage under the screen. But I was fully able to use the phone. Hope blossomed.
But I was not a full optimist. I immediately plugged the phone in and did a backup. I had a backup from before we left home. But if something happened, I wanted a good recent backup copy of my phone. I made sure all my photos were up in the cloud.
Over the next two days, my iPhone deteriorated. The screen damage got worse. And then touch started to go. I changed the accessibility options so that the phone would work without the Home button. Each time I used it, less and less worked. Until I could not find a touch spot on the screen that worked. I learned what it means when my iPhone gets wet scuba diving.
Getting Along Without My iPhone
I did not realize how connected I was to my iPhone until it was dead. When I wanted to check a fact, I continually looked for my phone. If saw a picture I had to get David take it. While I carried my iPad at times, it was not that portable. I looked like all those people taking iPad pictures that I always shook my head at.
After a few days in Grand Cayman, I just let go. I was not disconnected from the internet since I had both my iPad and computer with me. But I was online only for dedicated periods when we were back at the resort. It was a refreshing change. And David certainly loved having more of my attention. If your iPhone gets wet, be prepared for some downtime.
I contacted the Apple distributor in Grand Cayman about repairs. But the timeline was not enough for me to address the situation before I reached home. An online chat with Apple got me an appointment at the Apple Store as soon as I reached home. If we’d been in the area, i’d have gone for a San Diego Macbook Repair shop a friend of ours took their phone to when the screen cracked, but alas, we’re not down that way.
I was not sure that to expect when I reached the Apple Store. My iPhone had Apple Care coverage. But the two years of coverage had elapsed with no claims. I learned that there was really no repair option if your iPhone gets wet. Especially if it is totally submersed. And salt water was a killer.
Since I was not yet ready to upgrade my phone, I paid for a replacement iPhone 7 Plus. Getting my iPhone wet provide me with an expensive lesson.
Lessons Learned – If Your iPhone Gets Wet
1) Pick Your Underwater Enclosure Carefully
An underwater case for an iPhone is version specific. Don’t assume that the minor differences in smart phone will allow for a solid seal.
2) Make Sure The Underwater Rating Meets Your Needs
If you buy an underwater enclosure, make sure it really is water rated. And know what the water rating lets you do. A water rating uses an IP (Ingress Protection Marking) number. IP7 supports immersion up to 1 m depth for 30 minutes. But this does not cover snorkelling or shallow scuba diving. You will need IP8 to scuba dive at deeper depths. This underwater rating is critical for underwater camera enclosures too.
3) Always Have A Current Backup
If you take your phone everywhere you go, you should be backing it up regularly. Your phone may be in danger. Not just if your iPhone gets wet.
Setting the phone up for regular cloud backups may help. But since we often travel with bad wifi connectivity, I chose to do manual backups to my computer. It was a good thing that I am pretty careful about doing regular backups before we travel. And this time, as soon as my iPhone got wet.
4) Warranty Coverage May Help
Most standard warranties will not cover accidental damage. I added Apple Care which gave me two years of coverage. And there was a nominal charge for accidental damage. Unfortunately, my Apple Care had already expired when I learned what happens when my iPhone gets wet.
We even checked to see if our credit card would cover the damage. We found out that our credit card added one year to the manufacturer’s warranty only. So it did give me one year past the expiration of my Apple Care.
Since we buy our phones outright and not through a cell phone plan, we also did not have an option to go to our cell phone provider. Check to see if your cell plan covers accidental damage. Or if it is time for a phone upgrade. Neither of these options were open to me.
5) Know What To Do If Your iPhone Gets Wet
I immediately checked the internet for what to do if my iPhone gets wet. I followed all the steps. But I was probably doomed by the salt water. There were lots of stories online about success. But none if your iPhone gets wet when scuba diving with a leaky underwater enclosure.
6) Don’t Put Your Phone At Risk If You Can’t Afford To Lose It
If you really need your phone, don’t put it at risk. Maybe leave your phone behind if it can get damaged or wet. If the information on your smart phone is critical, make sure the only copy is not on your phone. The cost to replace your phone if you don’t have warranty coverage is not trivial. If you can’t afford to replace the phone, keep it in a safe place.
I Wish I Didn’t Have To Learn What Happens If My iPhone Gets Wet
I sure wish I had not taken my iPhone scuba diving in Grand Cayman I did not really want to learn what happens if my iPhone gets wet. In my case, it may have been the worst case scenario from a cost perspective. But I did have a good backup of the information on my phone. In a few hours after my phone was replaced, I was back in action.
I managed just fine for most of our 16 days in Grand Cayman without my iPhone. I had options for taking photos and keeping up with social media. And we got a bit of a break from being constantly online.
But in the future, I am not risking my iPhone by taking it in the water. We are already researching options for a second underwater camera.
Do you put your cell phone at risk when you travel? Do you really want to experience what it feels like when your iPhone gets wet?
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