What to do if you drop your E71 in a torrent

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I had a small lunch time adventure today: I accidentally dropped my Nokia E71 into a raging torrent (the watery kind, not the bit kind). Aside from a chance for some quick sympathy or laughter, depending on your disposition, I thought it might be a good opportunity to refresh some of the actions you can take if this happens to you. I would also be pleased to hear your stories and recommendations for follow up action!

I managed to trip over a fence, face plant onto a bridge and then turn my head just in time to witness the E71 going 'plop'. Unfortunately there has had quite a lot of rain in the last week and as a result the stream was rather full and was also very very cold. After wading around in waist deep water for about 10 minutes I did manage to locate the E71.


Not good: deep stream with lots of water after heavy rain. Noooo!

So, what to do next?

Warranty policies and insurance generally do not cover water damage so you are largely on your own. You need to be realistic, there is a good chance the phone will never work again. A lot does depend on the circumstances (what you dropped it in and for how long). It is also likely that the phone will never be quite the same again (for example camera modules are especially sensitive to water damage, and there's a higher chance of subsequent failure due to corrosion and or later damage).

However there are a number of steps you can take to ensure the best possible chance for a positive outcome.

Here are a set of instructions to follow if your phone is immersed in water:

  1. Get it out of the water as soon as possible.
  2. Take the battery out as soon as possible.
  3. Take out the SIM card, memory card and take off any other detachable components.
  4. Dry the phone off as best as you can.
  5. Place the phone in a warm dry place (an airing cupboard is ideal) and leave it their for at least 3 days.
  6. Hope for the best!

Getting the battery out as quickly as you can is important because it is a short circuit that is most likely to damage your phone. It may be worthwhile disassembling the phone in order to allow it to dry out more easily. How this is not always an easy thing to do and often requires specialist tools. It is a good idea to place the phone in a container surrounded by rice or a similar water absorbing material while it is drying. This helps the dry process and can draw out water from the inner workings.


If you dropped the phone into salty water or a drink of some kind it may be a good idea to rinse the phone in fresh water once you have removed the battery. Generally further rinsing will not damage the phone further, but may help to remove minerals and materials that can cause short circuits. You can also do the same thing with an alcohol solution, although the chance are you will not have this to hand.

As for my E71 - it's now sitting drying out (and I'm still feeling a bit frozen). I'll report back in a few days with a status update... It doesn't look too good though as prolonged exposure the silt laden water has a good chance of being terminal.

Please do share your stories and tips in the comment thread.