Report: Water-Damaged iPhones Now Swappable

May 4, 2009

Careless iPhone owners who have flipped their handset into a swimming pool–or glass of beer–can now reportedly save themselves the expense of purchasing a new handset under a new Apple store policy allowing the replacement of a liquid-damaged handset for $199. According to an independent iPhone repair company, display problems represent one-third of iPhone hardware issues. The new policy applies to out-of-warranty incidents that would normally require the purchase of a new phone, and also trigger an extention of the owner’s two-year AT&T contract. Under the new policy, the iPhone owner simply pays a one-time $199 price for a refurbished handset, and transfers the SIM card to the new device. The iPhone is equipped with four liquid submersion indicators: one in the headset jack, one in the dock connector, and two on interior surfaces. The indicators have been used by Genius Bar staff to help determine if an owner’s iPhone problem was caused by liquids, which are not covered by Apple’s warranty. The policy change could be related to an easing of Apple’s general repair policy, or as a way of clearing out an inventory of the current iPhone 3G stock ahead of a new model introduction this summer. According to a November 2008 SquareTrade study (pdf) of 15,000 handsets, the iPhone has a 9%–11% projected failure rate during the first two years, but a 24.7 percent accidental damage rate. Among component problems, the display module leads at 33 percent, followed by the antenna and hardware casing (13%) and power issues (12%).

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

AB May 4, 2009 at 1858

I think it’s a general relaxing of the policy, as it applies to the original iPhone too.

And regardless of the generation or size, the fee is a flat $199. That’s an update too, as 16GB replacements used to cost more than 8GB replacements.


Jen Marceaux May 5, 2009 at 1714

Anyone know if this is only in the US? I *just* had to pay $1078 Singapore dollars (over $700 US dollars) to replace mine after it fell in water.


Gary Allen May 5, 2009 at 1849

Jen – Apparently this policy only applies to at least Apple’s U.S. retail stores, so that would definitely limit its use in other countries.


Steven Fisher May 5, 2009 at 2101

This policy is a couple months old at least.


Addison May 6, 2009 at 0646


Not that I’ve heard. I was at the Genius Bar picking up my MacBook yesterday and I overheard a Genius talking to a customer who mentioned it recently changed “this week”, so he was able to offer a $199 replacement instead of a $400 buy-yourself-a-new-one. I found it funny that that was still too much money for the customer, who stormed out angry.


Jen Marceaux May 6, 2009 at 0647

I would happily have paid $199. Shoot, I’d have paid $400! Instead, I paid $1078 Singapore dollars, or around $700 US dollars.


Shannon Jean May 6, 2009 at 0942

We think this is good news, since in our experience, most water damaged units have multiple part failures that make a repair not economically feasible. We’re glad to replace your broken screen overnight for $99, repair your audio jack or dock connector port along with multiple other specific iPhone repairs at TechRestore – but when it comes to water damage, we will now send you back to the Apple store.


Shannon Jean


Steven Fisher May 6, 2009 at 1314


A friend discovered this policy in early April, so I know it’s been around at least a month. Maybe Apple didn’t do a good job of letting their staff know about it?


Steven Fisher May 6, 2009 at 1317

Ah, nevermind. I found the old message he sent me. I was thinking of screen breaks, not water damage.


Doc May 22, 2009 at 2232

Does anyone know if Apple is accepting returns on iPhones not registered under AT&T?

I have an iPhone I’m using with T-mobile that was recently damaged with water and I would much rather pay $199 to have it replaced than buy a new one of the web.


Sinitech June 24, 2009 at 1808

Hmmmmmm am I the only the only one thats is looking at the topic here?? Report: Water-Damaged iPhones Now Swappable…. Just seems the people here kinda drifted away from what the topic was all about….. Ok Apple what a joke… Iphone another joke. I cant believe this wasnt informed to us consumers bout the scam apple had going on…. To say that that water dmg. such as humidity or sweat or maybe sum rain cud cost us consumer to have to pay a rediculous fee cause Apple is un educated on putting a cover for the connector on the phone. Plus U have to give them ur old phone I mean I have a 16g phone I dumped 600 big ones on this phone last thanks giving and for it only to last 8 months is a joke. Word to the wise even tho the Iphone’s are a badass phone unfortunatly Apple found a way to scam us once again. Like ok I dont have a problem payin the 200 for a new phone but on top of that they want my old phone….. Hmmm and what so they can spend 15 bucks to replace a part that shud have been in there research. But they want my old Iphone …. I think not I cud buy a 8 gig brand new and still have my old phone to find a 3rd party to buy a water dmg replacement kit for bout 50-100. To any1 intrested in buying a Iphone I wud advise you not to I just made my mom return hers ubtil apple can meet other providers true concerns for there customers. The hell with apple sad sad sad. Word of mouth is the best advertisement and I can promise you I will make sure people think twice bout buying a Iphone. Well ateast until Apple stops being money hungry and think more bout there vauled customers.. Yeah yeah Ill prolly get bashed but Might want to think before ur remarks are made

Dont you love hoe like sprint is honest…. Say you break the top part off of a flip phone… Sprint only requires 50 duckits to replace that phone…. Apple = scammers.. But life goes on and I doubt Apple wud want to try to fix this prob Anyways If any1 has any comments just plz dont waste ur time on tryin to point out things that we thew people shud have known. I mena not one rep at a AT@T mentioned anyhting bout this enternal part is not covered under there policy…. But yeah very pissed :( Ill bookmark this page cause I am on a queest to find a third party that wud offer a reasonable prce on fixing this. So yeah for now I got a lil off my cheat Hope every1 has have better luck rather than me!


Amanda July 12, 2009 at 1930

What about IPOD touch? Does this policy cover the IPOD touch getting water damage?


David Skelton April 19, 2010 at 1426

This is just another apple rip off. If they would have designed it right and had had a Chinese kid install the seal correctly you would not have to worry about water/moisture/rust. Remember the space shuttle Challenger was lost because of an “O” ring. Apple is just making more money off of ther own stuipd engineering screw up. Like our government we pay for their mistakes, guess that why they put Al Gore on the apple board.


Tan Bee Li July 8, 2010 at 0537

I did not know about the Water indicator until i happen to walk in the SERVICE Center in Singapore enquire of sometime signal drop during telephone conversation. They told me that the indicator has changed to red and under warrenty. I was very puzzled how can that happened. I was very unhappy that now The Phone is working well is already not under warrenty which i did nothing to The Phone.


Rich Kennedy September 11, 2010 at 0250

Mine got “wet” by being in my pocket during work. I’m a traffic officer in Florida and of course am out in rain on a regular basis. It got damp in my pocket… only had it months. It is if I were swimming with it according to their design and policy. Horrible design for anyone who works outside.


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