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!"
Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.