What’s the Cost to Repair a Water Damaged Phone?

Whether it was an accident like dropping it in the sink or you didn’t think being on your phone in a sauna could cause any harm, realizing your device isn’t working can bring panic. Buying a new cell phone to replace your damaged one is potentially expensive, and you’d probably prefer to find another way to keep your device working.

There’s good news — you can often salvage a phone with water damage. Learn how to determine your phone’s water damage repair cost and whether your phone has some more life in it or it’s time for a replacement.

What Affects the Cost of Water Damage? 

The cost of repair for a water-damaged cell phone varies widely. It’s often difficult for a technology repair shop to determine a Samsung or iPhone’s water damage repair cost unless they see its internal components.

Still, you might be able to evaluate your phone to determine an estimate for water damage repair. Consider these factors that could affect the cost of repairing a cell phone with water damage:

1. Severity of Damage

The type of damage your phone experienced can range from mild to severe, and you might not always be able to tell immediately. Water can enter your phone through its charging port, headphone jack, speakers and other openings. If water gets inside, it can stay there for days. Even if your phone is completely dry on the outside, water could be corroding or rusting internal circuitry.

How do you know the severity of your cell phone’s water damage? Think about how much water your phone was exposed to before you dried it. Spilling half a glass of water on your phone will cause less damage than submerging it for several minutes. The best way to determine the extent of your phone’s damage is to have an expert open it up.

2. Whether or Not You Have Insurance 

Many major insurance providers offer electronics insurance that gives cell phone owners a break if their phones experience water damage. These plans are often affordable, with monthly premiums ranging from $5 to $20. Liquid damage is one of the several accidents that electronics insurance can cover, along with accidental damage, mechanical issues, theft and sometimes loss.

Water damage might not faze you if you have electronics insurance for your cell phone, as the cost of repair will be significantly lower.

3. Whether Your Phone Is Water Resistant 

Many newer cell phones have a certain level of water resistance. Phone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung offer water-resistant devices tested in laboratory settings to determine how much water the phones could withstand. Each phone is rated according to ingress protection (IP), a universal measurement for liquid resistance.

A rating of IP68 involves submerging the phone in up to 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes. Some cell phones have a rating of IP68 for a greater maximum depth. Although a phone’s water resistance rating indicates that it’s less likely to sustain water damage, it’s no guarantee that your phone is immune from water damage.

Apple provides a list of water-resistant iPhones. For example, the iPhone XS water damage repair cost and iPhone XS Max water damage repair cost might be lower than non-resistant devices because both have a rating of IP68 for up to 2 meters of submersion. You can also find a list of Samsung’s IP-rated cell phones. This means a water-resistant Samsung’s water damage repair cost will probably be lower than a non-resistance rated phone.

4. Type of Phone 

The age, type and model of your cell phone can also affect how much it costs to repair it after water damage. If you have a newer cell phone, the cost of repair is generally higher than for an older phone. This is because the latest devices come with innovative technology and the newest components. These parts are more expensive to buy, and thus, more expensive to repair.

That means your brand-new cell phone might cost you more to repair than an older model. For example, the iPhone X water damage repair cost is probably less than the iPhone 11 water damage repair cost. Likewise, the water damage repair cost of the iPhone XR is likely less than that of an iPhone 13 Pro.

How to Tell if Your Phone Is Fixable 

You might be trying to avoid taking your cell phone in to see the tech doctor — at least for now. Fortunately, you can do a few things to determine whether your phone is fixable. Ask yourself these questions to determine if your phone is repairable:

1. Does It Turn On?

You may be tempted to immediately turn on your phone after retrieving it from the water to see if it’s still working. This isn’t a good idea since water is a good conductor of electricity. The power surging through your phone could ruin it completely. 

Instead, power your phone off as soon as you dry it down. If there’s any leftover water inside your device, turning it off can prevent further damage to the internal circuitry. It’s best to wait at least 48 hours before turning on or charging your phone. It might be a hard wait, but it’s vital. If your phone powers on after this length of time, it’s probably fixable.

2. Have You Removed the SIM Card?

Give your phone a fighting chance by removing everything from it you can. Doing so can protect expensive elements from water damage and help the phone dry out better. You should make sure the phone is externally dry before taking this step.

If your phone model allows you to, remove the SIM card and battery immediately. You can open the SIM tray on iPhones using a paper clip or a special SIM-eject tool. For a Samsung device, you might be able to remove the back cover by prying it open with the rear notch. Keep your SIM card in case you can salvage some of your phone’s stored data. Be aware that some phone models are fully encased, making it impossible to remove the battery.

Here are a few other pieces you can remove to help your phone dry:

  • The phone case
  • The screen protector
  • The memory card
  • The stylus

3. Have You Tried Removing the Water? 

You probably toweled your phone off immediately after you got it wet. This dried off your cell phone’s surface, but since water can also be inside your device, try to remove it from the inside before you take it to a repair shop.

You can use several methods to remove the water inside a cell phone. Here are some of the best methods for removing water:

  • Open air: One of the best ways to dry your phone is by setting it out in warm, open air. The air evaporates the moisture effectively, although this process might take several days longer than another method. You can place your phone in an area with sun exposure, but it’s usually not best to use an external heat source like a hair dryer. Using excessive heat on your phone could fry the circuits.
  • Silica gel: You can find silica gel in the form of crystal cat litter or silica beads. Silica gel is one of the best drying agents available. Place your phone in an airtight container or plastic bag and cover it with silica beads. Leave it for at least 24 hours before turning it on.
  • Instant couscous and rice: You might find some useful household drying agents in your pantry. Instant couscous and rice are generally good at absorbing the moisture from your phone. These drying agents work better than uncooked white rice because the instant varieties absorb water faster. Cover your cell phone with the couscous or rice inside an airtight container and wait at least a day.

The Cost to Repair a Phone

Taking your cell phone to a professional is sometimes the only way to know exactly how damaged it is. However, the cost to repair your phone might be more than the device is worth.

While the cost to repair a water-damaged phone varies by repair shop, phone model and severity of the damage, the expense is likely to fall on a certain spectrum. Here’s what you can expect:

1. With Insurance

If you have cell phone insurance, all you’ll pay to have your water-damaged phone repaired is your deductible. Your deductible will differ according to your insurance provider. For example, AppleCare+ with Theft and Loss has a $99 deductible for accidental damage, while other providers have deductibles as low as $29. Keep in mind that some devices might prompt a higher deductible than others.

Many cell phone insurance providers allow you to take your phone to a local repair shop. Others will accept mailed-in phones or offer home visits from their technicians. Check with your insurance provider’s policy to see what coverage you have.

2. Without Insurance 

Having phone damage insurance can considerably reduce the cost of repairing a phone with water damage, but this kind of insurance is relatively underutilized. A recent survey found that only 33% of smartphone owners in America have a protection plan for their devices. For the rest of Americans, water damage can mean a hefty repair bill.

The cost to repair a water-damaged iPhone depends on the type of damage and your phone’s model. Some water damage repair involves a liquid cleaning, while others need replacement parts. You’ll also have to pay for labor. These repairs can range from $30 to well over $500, depending on the phone model and type of damage.

What to Do if Your Phone Is Beyond Repair 

Maybe you’ve tried multiple home remedies that haven’t helped your waterlogged cell phone. If the cost of having a professional repair it seems too expensive, what should you do with it? Sometimes, ridding your phone of water damage can be more trouble than it’s worth.

Consider your options for what to do with your water-damaged phone:

1. Calculate the Cost 

First, determine if your phone is worth more broken or repaired. You can calculate your phone’s net value after the necessary repairs by: 

  • Finding the current value of your cell phone based on its model and condition 
  • Determining the cost of repair for water damage
  • Subtracting the cost of the repair or your insurance deductible from the phone’s value

If repairing your phone would leave it with a comparable value, having it fixed might be a good option. Even if the net worth after repairs is considerably lower, it might be worth it if you can resell the phone. Once you know the value of repairing your phone, compare its broken value.

2. Sell or Recycle It 

If professional repair isn’t an option for your phone, you can always sell it broken or recycle it. Many companies will buy water-damaged cell phones, though some will consider a phone with water damage broken. The amount you can expect for a water-damaged phone depends on the extent of the damage and whether the water triggered its water damage indicator. You can put any cash you get toward buying a replacement phone.

Recycling is an eco-friendly solution for getting rid of a water-damaged cell phone. Although only 21% of smartphone owners in America recycle their used phones, doing so is undoubtedly healthier for the environment than sending them to landfills. While you aren’t likely to get much money back when you recycle a damaged phone, you’re helping with reducing pollution, which is a good feeling.  

3. Buy Used

If your phone is old or you were already due for an upgrade, it might be better to forego the repairs and buy a new device. Repairing extensive water damage and replacing multiple components of your device can be as expensive or more so than simply replacing your cell phone.

If you’re in the market for a new cell phone but want to avoid paying full price, shop at Gazelle. We offer used Apple, Samsung and Android phones with certified quality for a fraction of the cost of a new phone. You can choose from a wide selection of pre-owned cell phones to find the best replacement for you.

Shop Used Cell Phones at Gazelle

If a repair isn’t in your cell phone’s future, Gazelle is the best place to buy used phones for less. We’re a reputable reseller with honest and fair pricing. With our Gazelle Certified guarantee, you can be sure your new cell phone is in good working order. Plus, our 30-day returns give you peace of mind just in case your purchase isn’t everything you hoped. 

Browse our selection of used phones today! Looking to regularly update to the latest iPhone? Check out the Gazelle Flex program for the most affordable way to experience the latest certified preowned iPhone models.