Apple granted patent for water-damage detection

“Apple has won a patent related to detecting water damage in a gadget,” Don Reisinger reports for CNET.

“Apple filed for the patent in January 2010. However, the company has been including its Liquid Contact Indicator in products for years, dating back to the original iPhone,” Reisinger reports. “Upon being immersed in water, the indicator turns red, giving Apple employees conclusive evidence that it was wet.”

Reisinger reports, “For Apple, having that indicator readily accessible is extremely important. The company’s iPhone warranty does not cover water damage. So, if customers come in with what they claim is a broken iPhone that was actually tossed into a lake, Apple might be forced to pay for the replacement if it didn’t know the device had gotten wet.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. Great, Apple. I am glad that your techs can easily diagnose water damage. But how about putting some of that engineering genius into *preventing* water damage?! My daughter’s iPod touch died from condensation from a nearby ice pack. My son dropped his in the toilet, so I can’t really defend that one. But Apple should be able to make their products water resistant, if not totally waterproof.

    Come on, Apple! Step up to the engineering challenge. Waterproof your portable devices!

      1. Sounds interesting, rsm – I appreciate the reference and I looked it up. The cheapest Liquipel service (including shipping) is ~$70. That is 35% of the retail cost of the low end iPod touch. In other words, a touch too much.

        I think that a nano treatment like Liquipel may be part of the solution. But I believe that Apple needs to update its iOS devices to seal the volume buttons, on/off switch, headphone jack, and dock connector. After that, an internal conformal coating or treatment with a Liquipel-type product would be insurance.

        If this type of treatment is truly as effective as claimed, then Apple should consider applying it to all of its iPod, iPhone, and iPad products, perhaps as an exclusive Apple Store option at a nominal cost.

    1. Waterproof cases are available, if it’s truly an issue in your family, it hasn’t been an issue with any of my electronic devices, ever.

      I’d say Apple would be better off putting the added cost towards screens that don’t break.

      1. Condensation is liquid water. It dripped onto the iPod touch and killed it. My point was that it was not immersed. Apple can and should design its devices to withstand at least incidental/splash contact with water, if not full immersion. And it should not require a third party case to achieve that level of robustness..

        That is my opinion, and I believe that it has merit. Feel free to disagree.

    2. I was frankly hoping that Apple would take some of their huge mountain of cash and buy the company that makes NeverWet. At their website they take an iPhone coated with it and drop it into a bucket of salt water and after thirty minutes it is still running.

  2. Unfortunately, the detector can easily be triggered in a normal, but high-humidity, environment (such as the Gulf Coast). I think that this “water-damage detection” isn’t really what it claims to be, and that denying claims on the basis of this “detector” alone is going to open up Apple to a lot of potential liability. In their shoes, I’d have several data points to check before declaring the warranty void.

  3. Is seems to me that the iPhone could be made water resistant without much modification to the current design. Modify the speakers, the headphone jack, the home and volume buttons, and the dock connector and you could have a much more resilient phone.

  4. The sensor must be submerged in liquid to be triggered. Humidity and condensation will not trigger them.

    Stop asking Apple to take care of your products for you. You bought it, now take care of your shit.

    1. Not true. I had an iPhone 4 that never got wet, just in my sweaty pocket hiking. Both indicators (headphone jack and dock connecter) were positive.

      BTW, I live in Hawaii so it’s pretty humid also.

        1. Not true. I’ve seen indicators that turned red on phones that had no contact with water. I also seem to remember a report that Apple had stopped using the indicators, or at least some of them, to absolutely determine that a phone was water damaged.

    2. Kiss my ass, Meh. There is nothing wrong with improving the design and robustness of iOS devices. Ever get caught in the rain? Ever spill anything? Sometimes things happen and Apple would be doing many people a favor by implementing a waterproof design.

  5. The LCIs don’t not trigger unless the indicators have actually become wet. The red dye is underneath the indicator. Simply getting the indicator wet doesn’t trigger it. The liquid needs to get under the indicator, causing the dye to be released.

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