How My Phone Survived a Dive into the Toilet
I don't buy the insurance for my cell phone. That's been wise so far because it has been more than ten years since I last destroyed one of my phones. The other day I lost all of my cockiness from a decade of perfect mobile phone care.
On Friday I was doing what one does while sitting on the toilet in the restroom of a retail store during my lunch break, going through my normal routine of scrolling through stuff on my phone. I was wearing a hoodie and thought I had put it in its pocket. I had not. It was resting on top of the pocket so when I stood up it dropped straight into the toilet.
The toilet was still full of what I did in the toilet.
The top end of my trusty iPhone 6S, where the earpiece and camera are, was submerged in the "water" upside down. The rest of it was resting on the front upper wall of the bowl. Somehow the rubber outer layer of my Otterbox Defender case had enough traction on the bowl to keep it from slipping down any further.
After cursing loudly, I instinctively grabbed the phone out of the toilet and shook the excess "water" off of it. Then I pressed the power button to see if the display would come back on. It did, but now I realized my hand was wet from the "water" running off of the phone and out of the shell of the case.
I peeled the rubber outer layer off and popped the plastic shell off. I used toilet paper to dry the "water" off of it and at least get it to a condition I'd be willing to deal with it further. I put the phone completely in one hoodie pocket, then the three parts of the case in the other, and exited the stall.
While washing my hands it occurred to me that washing my hands at this time was pointless because I was going to be handling my phone that still had "water" germs all over it. So I pumped some foamy soap out and started rubbing on all sides of the case shell and rinsed it in the sink.
Normally I'm not self-conscious at all, but when I realized I there were three other dudes staring at me as I scrubbed hand soap on a disassembled cell phone case, I felt a strong desire to exit the restroom as soon as possible. I stopped washing the case in the sink of the bathroom where I had obviously dropped it in toilet "water" and put it back in my pocket, dried my hands, and bailed.
Lucky for me, there are anti-bacterial wipes everywhere in these trying times so after leaving the restroom I grabbed two feet of alcohol-soaked paper towels from the shopping cart area of the store and headed out the door. I passed a young mom with a kid in one arm and another walking and holding her hand and saw her grinning at me as if she knew what had just happened. Once in my car, I wiped down every square inch of the case and phone.
Properly decontaminated, I began assessing my phone itself. It was still functioning. I was listening to an audiobook on it prior to the trip into the store and my Bluetooth headphones were still on so I tried playing it. It worked. But then it hiccuped and stopped. And then it started. And then the small notification silent mode came on, then off, then on, then off without me ever touching the switch. I was thinking I needed to find some rice but in the meantime, since the only opening that the "water" had really been able to get into was the earpiece and silent mode switch, I figured I would just keep the phone upside down and plugged into power to maybe heat up the inside and evaporate any residual "water." That worked for seven seconds. The screen turned on then off then on again, switched silent mode on and off half a dozen times or so, then went black. Then the Apple logo appeared as it had restarted itself.
After the phone came back I immediately sent a text to my wife that if I don't reply it was because I got "water" on the phone and it died. Then I headed back to work and tried to figure out what to do if the thing died, and also to do my job for the rest of the day. Most things were backed up, but I really enjoy not paying for a phone as my old 6S is still working great after a battery replacement last year.
As the day went on the erratic behavior went away. The phone worked normally. I listened to the audiobook and music over Bluetooth and it was working fine. I charged it in my office and never put it in rice. It's now been three days and it's still doing fine. I got lucky that the Otterbox case completely sealed "water" out of the power and volume buttons and that only the earpiece and silent switch were the only things that got compromised. I was relieved.
I am still worried about "water" dripping out of it, though.