iPhone 3GS water damage rescue

Droooooj

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 19, 2009
104
5
London, UK
I dropped my 3GS in water for about 5-6 seconds. I've dried it for 48hrs in rice.

I know this is an old iPhone worth next to nothing, but I really want the data off it.

I've not done a backup in 2 years, so I was praying it would spring to life enough time to at least let me do a backup and get the pictures off. I just attached it to my Mac and got it charged up to 7%. It woke up but with the following problems...

* The touchscreen is unresponsive
* An alert is saying 'Activation Required'
* The display randomly zooms in and back out again like an 80s pop video
* The display looks a bit corrupt (see pics).

Any tips? Could I put the motherboard into another working 3GS and get the data off? Or would it still say 'Activation Required'? What's making it say that?
 

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Droooooj

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 19, 2009
104
5
London, UK
Update - I googled a bit and it seems 'Activation Required' is to do with phone networks and sim cards. Maybe my sim card got water damaged too - is that possible?

Anyway, I took the sim out, restarted the phone, which now asked a few questions about location services, which I said yes to, pressed Next a couple of times and I was back to my normal iPhone screen. Am soooo relieved!!

However. The screen is still behaving erratically, going into and out of Apps by itself, zooming in and out. The touch screen works maybe 1/10 times. The phone's unusable as it is. What do I need to replace to regain control?

Also, I can't get my mac to recognise the iPhone - in iTunes or Image Capture. It was flakey even before the water - would have to connect/disconnect many times before Image Capture would see it. :-/ It does charge though, so it's definately connecting in some way. Any other ways I can force my Mac to see the Phone?

Have also tried connecting it to 2 PCs running XP and Win10, neither of them saw the phone. :( I also noticed the phone no longer vibrates twice or chirps when connecting, nor when switching mute on and off.
 
Last edited:

Paddle1

macrumors 68040
May 1, 2013
3,402
1,140
Update - I googled a bit and it seems 'Activation Required' is to do with phone networks and sim cards. Maybe my sim card got water damaged too - is that possible?

Anyway, I took the sim out, restarted the phone, which now asked a few questions about location services, which I said yes to, pressed Next a couple of times and I was back to my normal iPhone screen. Am soooo relieved!!

However. The screen is still behaving erratically, going into and out of Apps by itself, zooming in and out. The touch screen works maybe 1/10 times. The phone's unusable as it is. What do I need to replace to regain control?

Also, I can't get my mac to recognise the iPhone - in iTunes or Image Capture. It was flakey even before the water - would have to connect/disconnect many times before Image Capture would see it. :-/ It does charge though, so it's definately connecting in some way. Any other ways I can force my Mac to see the Phone?

Have also tried connecting it to 2 PCs running XP and Win10, neither of them saw the phone. :( I also noticed the phone no longer vibrates twice or chirps when connecting, nor when switching mute on and off.
Well now that you can backup you'll probably have to get it fixed or replaced.
 

IHelpId10t5

macrumors 6502
Nov 28, 2014
477
314
1) Remove the SIM card, remove any cases and screen protectors
2) Purchase a bag of Silica beads from the hobby store
3) In a warm area, place your phone in a large ziplock bag on top of the silica beads and seal up the bag
4) Wait at least another 48 hours (more is better)
5) Once you have waited as long as you can, put the SIM card back in, charge the phone, and then see if it works.

Rice is for rookies. Silica beads are a powerful desiccant that will immediately absorb the water vapor as it evaporates from your phone over time. Placing the bag in a warm place also enhances the evaporation process. If the phone is not electrically damaged from a short, then it may still come back to life when the water is gone from within the phone.
 

hockeyman94

macrumors regular
Nov 26, 2012
118
4
California
I dropped my 3GS in water for about 5-6 seconds. I've dried it for 48hrs in rice.

I know this is an old iPhone worth next to nothing, but I really want the data off it.

I've not done a backup in 2 years, so I was praying it would spring to life enough time to at least let me do a backup and get the pictures off. I just attached it to my Mac and got it charged up to 7%. It woke up but with the following problems...

* The touchscreen is unresponsive
* An alert is saying 'Activation Required'
* The display randomly zooms in and back out again like an 80s pop video
* The display looks a bit corrupt (see pics).

Any tips? Could I put the motherboard into another working 3GS and get the data off? Or would it still say 'Activation Required'? What's making it say that?
The Digitizer is not working and is broken and your lcd has water damage they will need to be replaced. Also sounds like the sim card reader on the motherboard is damaged so a new one would have to soldiered to the board.
 

Richdmoore

macrumors 68000
Jul 24, 2007
1,778
251
Troutdale, OR
It sounds like the phone is pretty much trashed. If possible, with the flaky touchscreen, can you install an app like dropbox, and use it to upload (backup) all your pictures. You then could go to dropbox on the web and download them to your computer.

The phone itself is not worth the replacement parts needed to try and fix it, once you get the pictures and other data you need off of it, I would try to recycle it.
[doublepost=1462515125][/doublepost]Oh, and if it helps (and it available) you can try to hook up a bluetooth keyboard to the iPhone to use it to type passwords, etc if the on screen keyboard is hard to use.
 

Droooooj

macrumors regular
Original poster
Oct 19, 2009
104
5
London, UK
Thanks for all the ideas guys. I only need to get photos and notes off the phone. I've got WiFiPhoto installed, so if I can get the touchscreen working I can do it that way.

I've ordered a replacement dock assembly, and today a new glass/digitizer assembly turned up.

I'm now stuck because I replace the glass/digitizer, turned on the phone, but the screen's still unresponsive. It could be that I've not attached the connections properly, but I can't now power down to open it and check as the home button doesn't work! :-/

How can I switch the phone off without the home button or touchscreen?!? It's got 40% battery which will take ages to run down.
 

Richdmoore

macrumors 68000
Jul 24, 2007
1,778
251
Troutdale, OR
I think your best bet (with the home button and digitizer now inop) is to try and get it hooked up to to your computer to download an unencrypted backup. There are apps for Windows/iOS that can then extract the info like notes from the backup.

If the connection is flaky, I would try another cable (probably can get a 30 pin cheap at a dollar store at this point). Hopefully it is the cable and not another issue with the phone.