Cracking Open a phone after 2 months in the oceanThis week, Bill Detwiler explores the insides of a Samsung Galaxy S6 that was submerged in salt water for two months. Erin Carson joins him to tell the story of how the phone was lost and then found again.
[BLANK_AUDIO] Welcome to CNET and Tech Republic's Cracking Open, where we take apart the latest tech to show you what's inside. I'm Bill Detwiler, and today I'm joined by CNET's very own Erin Carson here And Erin has something special for us. What do you have, Erin? I do, so I have a Samsung Galaxy S6, but it's not just a regular one. Okay. This guy has spent two months waterlogged in the mud and water in the bay off Sausalito, California. Wow, okay, well, this is actually A co-worker's phone right and so Erin is going to tell us the whole story while i'm taking it apart. but we thought this would be a really cool opportunity to show everybody what actually happens to one of these devices when they sit underwater. and this one sat under salt water right for 2 months. and it was just by chance that we found the thing. our co-worker found the thing afterwards. Show everybody on the outside what it kind of looks like here. Can we see? Yeah. So it's looking pretty grody. It looks like we have some corrosion around the sides here, at the bottom. And kind of at the top. At the top. And on the side, it really starts to look like something that you might see from a shipwreck. [LAUGH] Let's go ahead and get started. Alright. Let's see what we can do with this thing. So, we have to go in through the back of this phone. We'll remove the plate off of the back. There's some adhesive that holds it on. You can use a lot of different methods to heat this up, to heat the adhesive and loosen it up. We're going to use our handy dandy heat gun turned on low. So while I'm doing this Erin, won't you tell us what happened with this phone? Whose was it and how did they lose it and how did they get it back. So this phone used to belong to CNET's senior producer Andy Altman. And like any house good story, it starts with a house boat. He has a friend who has a house boat in [INAUDIBLE]. And a bunch of them were gonna go ride their bikes. And so this one day, he had the phone in the pocket of his riding jersey. And it just bounced out of his pocket while he was walking up the dock. And as you might imagine, he just sort of looked at the water and was like well, I guess I'm not gonna see that again. But about two months later during low tide, his friend actually texted him and was like. I found your phone. Wow. So they fished it out, and here we are. And he tried to turn it back, well, obviously it didn't work, right? It did not, it did not, actually. We're not really concerned about breaking his phone. We're not gonna try to repair this phone This phone is toast and it's spent two months in saltwater here in the bay, so we're gonna- He's not counting on getting this back- Right, so we don't have to use gentle with this device as we normally would. So I'm gonna kick the heat up a little bit here on our heat gun. You could use a hair dryer to do this when you're working with adhesive. If you had a heat gun with adjustable heat setting you could use that. We just want to try to take the back off without breaking it. Most people you know lose these in the bathroom or loose these in the washer especially with newer phones. You know there's a chance that those actually more water resistant than perhaps they used to be in years past, right? Yeah, another really common theme, and you sort of alluded to this is bathroom horror stories. Yeah. That people have their fun in there and it does not need a good end. [LAUGH] [LAUGH] So. I mean everybody takes their phone to the restroom these days, right? I mean, it's just like the newspaper [UNKNOWN], magazine, everybody takes thier phones but you definitely have to be careful. All right, so We've managed to get the back off of this fairly easily, use a little bit of heat from our heat gun, and we'll pull the back off and now we can kind of see what's inside it. That's pretty, a lot of corrosion there. You can see a lot of the damage here that we have to the phone, a lot of the corrosion. You can see it looks like even maybe some of the screws here have a little bit of rust on them. Let's see if we can't get these out and see what we can find inside. Luckily inside these Samsung phones, there's all Phillips screws. Right, so it makes it a little easier to take them apart. Then if it's a, you know, they have special tamper resistant screws That's one of my favorite things about Samsung phones is that they do use standard screws, once you get inside. Okay, so we've got the back off. We have got I think all of the screws off that I can see, and what we're gonna is, I'm gonna try to, there's a cover on the back that covers The battery as it covers the circuit boards, and so we're gonna try and remove that here as best we can and then get to some of the circuits underneath. It definitely looks like, and I probably should be, well let's try this way. [SOUND] So there's some [LAUGH] corrosion and crud, we'll call it. That's our official term. Crud inside. I mean, it looks like, I don't know. The battery doesn't look punctured, but it looks it definitely has some corrosion in there. If you're going to do this yourself, I don't recommend doing thing. At this point, it probably just needs to be recycled. Get what data you can off of it. See if it's got Pictures or anything you really need on it or you really want. Send it away to a data recovery company, see what they can do. Make sure I have all the screws undone. I think we do here, so let's see if I can't pry the body off. The body comes off like this. This is gonna stick together a little bit here. Even after being in salt water for months there's still plenty of adhesive on this and this is the all right you can see the battery there. See if I can't. You can hear some crunchiness this is really unusual here. No sea life so far inside this. You never could tell I guess. See if I can get this, there we go. Kind of popped it loose. So we can see as we separate the body from the assembly here there are some wires in here that are connecting the back panel to the assembly here. I'm going to try and pop those loose. And be real gentle here. Then hold the camera, there we go. Now let's see here. There we go, so we can kinda see inside the phone now. That's an issue What was holding the case on I don't know if we can see this here, this is a sim card and the door had kind of stuck shut and so it's metal that holds the sim card in place, and so that was holding the case in, I should have removed, there we go, I should have removed that first but we did now, all right, so sim card's out now we can see All of our dust and debris here. We can see all the corrossion, we can see what sitting in salt water for two months actually does to the phone. That definitiely looks worse than any of the inside of any phone I've seen. Yeah it's pretty bad. We're gonna go ahead, I'm gonna try and disconnect the battery here, disconnect everything that' underneath the battery. Here we go, the battery We'll go ahead and we'll pop the battery out. The battery has not, ooh yeah, there's more. Wow. More dust, more grit, more debris in there. And I'm not sure what in here is actually corrosion because it wasn't salt water. Some of that might be you know, sea salt from the west coast of the US here. Miscellaneous setiment. [LAUGH] Yeah, other dirt, dust. You never know. I don't see. See any small sea creatures, but it would be pretty hard for them- Probably for the best. That is for the best. Probably for the best. So we're gonna pop off the outside camera here. Oops, there it goes. So there's the front-facing camera. Let's see if we can't pop loose this is the speaker here, the front facing speaker. Wow, this is all dusty man. It's crunchy, it's It's just there's dust and debris all over the place. And throughly too. So there's our. Yeah this is everywhere you can see the corrosion on the contacts here you can see. Let's see if we can, I want to see the chips, that's what we really want to get to if I can get them underneath the underneath the metal shield here. Yeah, more white crusty stuff. [LAUGH] We can see this stuff. I mean, let's pull this off, last connector. There we go, alright. So this would be the display assembly here. And we [UNKNOWN] how one of the circuit boards connected to the bottom of that. I'm gonna leave that there. This has the ports on it, the headphone jack and then the usb port there on the bottom. You have the vibration, we can see our little vibration motor there. And then the display, let's see what sea water has done for two months to, well the camera. Nothing good. Nothing good. That's right. Nothing good, all right, so there's the camera. I'm surprised! Look at the camera there. Yeah. It actually, you would think that the seawater would get inside these little crevices of the camera and stop, but it actually, the camera seemed to be fairly well protected inside its little housing on part of the case. I don't see a ton of I don't if this camera would actually work again if you plug it, if you could connect it up to something. But it might, I don't know. Let's see if we can get the, I wanna take off the EMI, EMF shields here. These are these electromagnetic interference shields that are put on top of the [UNKNOWN] The main chips. Ooh, yeah, there's water inside there, and there's a couple of them here we can see. One of the things that made this easier is the tape, the adhesive, the salt water and the exposure to moisture has definitely made that a little bit easier to pop through, you know. So here we have the circuit board, the main circuit board inside our damaged Galaxy S Six. You can see the processor here and you can see a, a ram chip or storage chips. And they're just, they're, they're toast. Now, you know, could a data recovery company take this phone, desauder the chip Storage chip from the motherboard and possibly get material off of it, data off of it. The answer is yes, maybe. If there's not too much physical degradation to the chip, they can de-solder these from the board then pull the data off and maybe recover it. I think it would be a long shot. In this case it would also be pretty expensive to do that. But not impossible. So there you have it. You have the tear down of a water logged phone that has been in salt water for two months. Lots of Lots of dust. Lots of dust, lots of salt, lots of corrosion. You know, I'll probably have some disease on my hands from all this or typical burns, and we'll be okay. All right, well that does it for this edition of Cracking Open. For all of our episodes we Be sure to check out CNET's YouTube channel and check out tech republic where you can find photos and full teardown description of this cracking open. [BLANK_AUDIO]