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So, your phone got wet

Dropping your phone in the toilet is an unceremonious way to lose your favourite gadget, but it might not be the end of its electronic life.

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Picture this: you've queued up at midnight for the latest iPhone release, taken it home and have been met by irresistible dual urges — to brag to your friends via SMS and to use the bathroom. The result is a wet phone and a broken heart. So what can you do after your phone takes a swim?

Our colleague in the US Ina Fried faced this dilemma recently and luckily her BlackBerry lives to email the tale to its cohorts. What follows is entirely anecdotal, sadly there is no proven course of action and no guarantees, just common sense and blind luck.

Ina fished her phone out of a (reportedly clean) toilet bowl almost as soon as she heard the dreaded splash. She notes that the next step, according to numerous sources, is to remove the battery and make sure as much of the phone that is exposed is as dry as can be. There is a myth that placing the phone in a cup of rice, cooked or dry, can help absorb the moisture you can't see, but as far as we know this is yet to be proven — best to stick to absorbent paper towels.

Now here is the interesting part; under certain circumstances the phone may begin working again after it dries, though this could take a few days. Ina left her BlackBerry alone and in time it returned to normal, first displaying unusual characters on screen, followed by a complete recovery. Another story I heard through a friend was about a phone presumed dead that resumed functionality after several months unused and unattended in a desk drawer.

This mobile phone struggle may seem familiar to anyone who saw Michael Haneke's Americanised remake of his film Funny Games released in 2008, where a wet handset was used as a major plot point in the film. Paul, an intruder, drops a phone belonging to the family he plans to victimise in dishwater so that when he and his friend return the family has no contact with the outside world. Later in the film we see Naomi Watts, playing a young mother, drying the phone's internals with a hair dryer. To reveal whether this works or not would be to spoil an important part of the movie, and needless to say, the result is but Hollywood fancy.

It's also worth noting that mobile phones have a hidden indicator to alert support teams of a trip to the toilet or kitchen sink, though it's apparently very sensitive and may not take for the phone to be submerged in water to trip this security measure. A colleague here at CNET Australia recently took a faulty iPhone 3G back to his mobile operator, and after the assistant inspected the charging port of the phone he was told that his warranty had been void due to water damage.

So the lesson, if you didn't already know it, was unless you have a waterproof phone like Samsung's B2700 or the "indestructible" Sonim XP3 Enduro, your phone probably doesn't know how to swim and is best left well away from water. There's another lesson in there as well, something about not using your spare hand to text while in the bathroom, because logic suggests your phone would, like your hands, need a wash, and we've already established that phones hate water.

Have you had any luck resurrecting a wet phone? Leave your comments below or drop us a line on the forums and let us know how you handled the situation.