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How have you killed your smartphone?

Sonja Thompson's mother killed her smartphone by accidentally dropping it in the toilet. Do you have a story that can beat that?

Yesterday, I received a phone call from my mother. I heard a little bit of static, and after a few seconds of saying, "Hello? Hello??" the line went dead. Now, this didn't surprise me, because she had called earlier in the week with phone problems -- maybe it was the network or a phone glitch. Even with Verizon's great coverage and smartphones' capabilities, It happens.

Well, accidents also happen, and unfortunately, that was the case. She called me from her home phone (yes, she is part of the decreasing population that still own a landline) and explained that she dropped her smartphone in the toilet. Of course, I laughed, because I've also had my fair share of smartphone mishaps. Heck, just the other day, my smartphone fell into the sink while I was washing my hands. I was quick to grab it and wipe it off, so there was no apparent damage -- plus I have a really nice OtterBox case that I think provided some extra protection.

So, what do you do when you drop your phone in the toilet, sink, or even a bowl of cheese dip? My mother said that she took the battery out, dried it off as best she could, and then put it in a container of uncooked rice. I did a quick Google search on this topic, and it's interesting how much contradictory information is out there: vacuum it, DON'T vacuum it; blow dry it, DON'T blow dry it; let it dry in a sunny window, but DON'T put it near a heat source like a radiator or oven.

Quite a few sources I found recommended leaving the phone off -- with the battery out to dry -- for at least 24 hours, but my mom decided to give it a go. Curiously, the Internet worked (she could get on Facebook) and she could send text messages. She was also able to make phone calls, like the one she made to me, but her voice didn't come through and my words (that she heard on her end) were garbled.

After an hour or so of letting her battery sit in uncooked rice, she headed to the Verizon store to see if they could help. She called me on her drive, using the in-car Bluetooth system, and amazingly, the phone seemed like it was working fine. However, she said that it powered on in Safe mode. By the time she arrived at Verizon, the phone was completely dead, and they weren't able to retrieve any of its information or data. Even the Backup Assistant was unsuccessful. Looking on the bright side, she moved from an Android device to the iPhone 4S, so hopefully Siri will be able to help her enter all of her contacts, phone numbers, and birthday reminders (which is what I did for her on her old phone).

Like I said, accidents happen -- and smartphones are rather fragile devices, with screens that crack and circuits that fry. How have you killed your smartphone(s)? Sharing potentially embarrassing stories makes us feel not so alone in our clumsiness. As my mother loves to say, "It's no laughing matter... but it's no matter if you laugh!"

About

Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.

27 comments
thehooligan
thehooligan

U-haul 1 BB Storm 0 BB fell out of my jacket pocket while helping a friend move some furniture. It fell right next to the left front tire of the truck. As I jockeyed the truck around to unload I unknowingly ground my Storm into the gravel driveway. Did I mention I am not a believer in insurance?

garret.hoffman
garret.hoffman

I just bought myself a brand new Droid 4, which has nothing to do with this, I love it so far its a great phone. My wife on the other hand has a Casio G'zOne Commando -- and she loves it. Its not the most performance heavy phone on the market, but its absolutely indestructible. She had already toasted two phones (lucky they were cheap throw away phones) that year because at that point in time my son had the habit of dunking phones in glasses of water/fishbowls etc... Since then, she has dropped it on hard surfaces, covered it in egg, dropped it in the sink, -- it still works fine. The sales guy at Verizon sold it to us saying that he gets quite a few contractors coming in for the phone. By his account, you could drop this phone off a 3 story building into a bucket of paint and it would still work. If you are prone to phone accidents at all, this is the phone to get! =D

TheWombat
TheWombat

My phone was glitching so as it was still under warrenty I took it back to Vodafone for repair. After 5 days they said it'd been exposed to liquid which voided the warrenty (even though I'd never actually dropped it into water, don't get me started on that one). When I took it home and then tried to turn it on, the screen didn't work (it had worked fine before) and the phone was unusable. So, I killed my smartphone by sending it for repair!

junk
junk

Mine went through the laundry. Simple and efficient, it would try to boot after that, but never quite made it to actually operating.

sm
sm

I'm not proud of it but last April when I was super-eager to get out into my new fishing kayak and try it on for size I totally kept my phone in my pocket - I didn't even think to put it in the waterproof compartment built right into the kayak which is for just this kind of thing, the one I was showing off to my friends 5 minutes before launching into the cold spring water. In my defense, I had a lot going on with an unexpected server migration and was keeping a close eye on my email and messages. Also, this kayak is apparently built not to tip - it takes a pretty extreme situation for the operator to end up in the drink. I have been called lots of things but until that moment it had never really been 'extreme'. Still getting used to all the gadgets, I managed to miss the rod holder while I was juggling my paddle, my tackle and my ego. In went the rod - what do you do when your fishing rod falls into the water and its not wearing a life jacket? You reach for it of course! As far as you can because heaven knows, the poor thing may suffer an untimely death. Apparently you can only reach so far out of a tipless kayak before it can take no more. In I went with an emphatic, shrill girly scream - man that was cold. I was out of the water as fast as I went in, into the cabin, changed my clothes - turned the phone on about a million times to see if it would work (look, my brain was frozen all right?). I stuck it in uncooked rice and went home and googled the crap out of how to fix it. I took it apart, dried it out and actually got it working again but the back light just never resumed so, while it could do everything post swimming that it could before, I was never really able to read the screen again. Thank goodness for Apple's water replacement plan - no matter what model of iphone you have they will replace it with a refurb of the exact specs for about $200. Mine is a 32G so that was a saving grace. Of course, I was hoping to use that money to buy a new, floating, fishing rod but that will have to wait until later. Next time I will buy my phone on my credit card and use the card insurance to cover my stupid loss - that's another thing I didn't know existed until now. Who knew that paying cash was actually a bad thing?

VytautasB
VytautasB

My wife dropped her phone in the lake off of our dock. Put on my mask and snorkel and was successful in finding it lying on the murky and mucky bottom. Took out the battery, card, and set it out in the sun for a few hours. Then took it home and tried to charge the battery. Took it to a repair shop who turned it away saying it was not worth repairing. Left it alone for a few days and tried to turn it on. Success, it worked again with full functionality. Several weeks later I heard a clunking sound from downstairs. I went to the washing machine and called my wife over to ask if she knew anything. She looked at me as if she had seen a ghost........ Well, that was "it" for the phone.

myepals
myepals

Those clips are not very robust I was cutting the grass at my moms couple of years ago, back in days before Otter Box. And was have a good old time jamming with with my IPHONE and stereo Bluetooth when I felt the mower chunk followed by a squeal in my ears. It took about a millisecond to figure out what happened. I looked around the yard but could not find it. I located it in the street, still lite up, right before a big Dodge work truck put it out of its misery. Many other cars, trucks, and a city bus took there turns before I could recover, the litter. Knew a guy who lost his pouring a foundation. It was still taking calls even after it cured hard enough to finish. Long live Otter Box, until something cheaper can do the same job. Was nearly done and was trying to do some edges

Tyree
Tyree

I use my phone for everything. It's my combination, phone, mp3 player, camera, pda, email device. I use it all day, everyday. Back then, I thought I was buying a toy. It turned into a tool. I was listening to music during my workout at the gym. My regular gym gear was in the laundry so I wore my swim trunks. Unfortunately, they had pockets. I had my towel, my trunks were already on. I left the gym straight for the pool. I was wondering what people were staring at as I prepared to dive in. Then the music stopped. Three days later, most functions on the phone worked but never quite the same. I had to pay full price for a replacement. Now I carry insurance. I still have that old thing. It's the only phone I've kept. I keep wondering why.

l_creech
l_creech

My experiences vary a little, first near miss was when I left my digital Motorola Brick 2 on the toolbox in my truck bed. Drove 90 miles home from jobsite, looked for phone but didn't find it. Found it the next morning when I went to open the toolbox and replace parts I had used the day before. It had slid forward and was wedged between the toolbox and the cab of the truck. That phone was nearly bullet proof and survived drops and other impacts for 5 years. Next phone I had an issue with was my Razr flip phone, was out soaking wood chunks for the smoker and it slid out of my pocket and in with the wood chunks. I actually managed to get a new phone 20 minutes later, albeit I had to pay full price for it since I didn't have insurance. SD card still worked, and after 4 days of switching the phone and battery from one box of silica absorbent to another the original phone started working correctly again. As for smart phones, I haven't killed one yet, though my Epic 4G has taken a couple good spins across my driveway in the last 2 years. The battery cover is pretty beat up looking, but the screen and keyboard are both still flawless. I dropped the insurance policy once I was eligible for an upgrade.

schmitznj
schmitznj

Years ago I had a Motorola Q and I set on the trunk of my son???s car while I changed the brake pads on the rear tires. When I finished the job, I took the car for a test drive to make sure the breaks worked. They worked fine on the lane so I decided to go a little further on the highway. When I turned the corner the phone fell off. All I was able to find was the plastic back and part of the motherboard. Luckily, I did have an insurance policy and received a check from my insurance company for $400.00.

Schuylkill
Schuylkill

This was before smartphones were popular in the U.S. - this was just a regular cell phone. I was working at a client site, installing new racks and filling the racks with new servers and other equipment. When I was done, I cleaned up the work area, throwing away the packing material. I left the client site and headed to the train station. I went to call my wife to let her know I was on my way home - whoops, no phone! I realized that I had thrown it away with the packing material. I went back to the client site to look for it, but no joy. My wife was NOT a happy camper. Lucky for me her sister works for one of the major mobile phone companies. My sister-in-law got the phone replaced quickly and inexpensively. I now have a healthy neurosis about my phone!

mahsmi
mahsmi

First a strict no no is carrying/ storing a (smart)phone in top pocket. I cracked my smartphone screen when I stashed it absent mindedly in the top shirt pocket while at work, within few moments as I leaned over to catch something it slipped out and.... What saved the day was the screen guard. The service centre technician diagnosis was that the front glass only had cracked... Repair $30. Another time wet hands and a slick hard case mobile cover led to a fatal slip (for the screen) of my smartphone. Since then I have invested in good griffin cover, though bulky, but at least the smart phone is as safe as it can be.

lfloyd
lfloyd

I work part time at a zoo, I had my phone in my pocket. I went to retrieve it, and a camel found it interesting. The next thing I know my phone is missing, and we found it in the camel enclosure stepped on. Most of it was broken, screen, case and nothing worked.

rhonin
rhonin

Dropped my original Blackjack out of my pocket while getting into the car. DBT - Death by tire. Getting out of my son in laws F350 (yes, it's raised) my iPhone 4 did a dive to the driveway. Yes, the frames do bend. This leads to front and back glass cracking. btw: it was in a Frogz case. That broke too. All others through drop, splash, wet, kids, grandkids have survived.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

why one would have a phone out around an open toilet. I was using the pool at the gym Monday, and saw a guy texting from the hot tub. That looked like an accident waiting to happen. I'm sure there are plenty of stories from people who've destroyed their phone by texting / surfing their way into a car accident, but some of them aren't around to tell the tale. Darwin dumps a little more chlorine in the gene pool.

Slayer_
Slayer_

He was leaning over the edge of the dock and his BB slipped out of his chest pocket and into the lake. It was down there for about 2 minutes before he managed to find it deep in the mud, about 4 feet deep in the water. It actually still works fine, the track ball thingy isn't very sensitive anymore, but that's about it.

sonotsky
sonotsky

...We once had a senior director drop his Crackberry into the immediate path of a snow blower. Evidently there wasn't enough left to identify the victim. :)

tanawj
tanawj

I also killed my 3 month old phone by dropping it down the toilet... did all the things to get it dried out, and it worked fine apart from texting, which is what I use it for most of the time. I then bought a smart phone and a week later got in my car, closed the door, and as I did so the phone fell out of my pocket and managed to get caught between the door and jamb... neatly broken in half. Lesson learned, I never ever put my phone in my pocket!

deb
deb

When I kill a phone, I don't do things halfway. Have only done it once, but it was my almost-new Galaxy Nexus that I loved dearly and the sequence of events was like something out of a sitcom. I had started to take a shower, and a plastic fitting on the side of the showerhead broke and water shot up in the air and all the way across the bathroom, getting my dog all wet in the process (yes, this is relevant). I was trying to clean it up when the phone rang. I ran to get it and was running back, slipped on a wet spot I'd missed (or the dog had dripped on after I cleaned it) and fell on the tile floor. Miraculously, I wasn't permanently damaged. The Nexus wasn't so lucky. It flew out of my hand, landed face down on the hard tile and the screen shattered into about a million pieces. It wouldn't turn on - no lights, no sound, no signs of life. Didn't have the insurance (had never needed it through a dozen or more phones) so I had to pay $650 for a new one. The rotten thing is that the new one has never worked quite as flawlessly as that first one. Nothing big, but occasional hangs and need to reboot that never happened with the other one. The other rotten thing is that the phone call - which I only ran to answer because my husband was gone and I thought it might be him - was from my weed treatment company. Not exactly urgent enough to warrant the $650 cost.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Similar circumstances back in the late '80s, but I threw out a PAYCHECK at a county trash dump, and didn't remember which dumpster.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Better in the camel enclosure than in the camel. I have a membership down here at Riverbanks, but I've never been up there. We keep meaning to take fall trip to G'ville and watch the trees put on their fireworks show.

Sonja Thompson
Sonja Thompson

She bent over to flush, and it slipped right out of the pocket. Major bummer.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Thankfully, it always bounced out instead of in... :D

mhoff1387
mhoff1387

with the clip-in style cell phone holders. Go to pull up your pants and fabric gets caught in just the right way...*click* *splash*