Data from a Water-Damaged iPhone Is Recoverable, Despite What Apple Says

Water Damaged Iphone Credit: Poravute Siriphiroon / Shutterstock
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Dropping an iPhone into water is devastating — particularly if there’s important data on the device that hasn’t been backed up yet.

That’s largely because Apple’s official stance is that water-damaged iPhones that won’t boot up are beyond repair. Apple says there’s nothing that can be done for the data stored on such devices.

But a new video report from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) suggests that that may not be true. Here’s what you need to know.

The Report

The CBC video report kicks off by introducing the Billards, a Canadian couple who dropped an iPhone into a lake during a boating trip. Reportedly, the family did not back up a slew of photographs on the device prior to the accident.

When the Billards took the device to Apple, they said the Cupertino tech giant had “virtually no interest” in helping out. But when the Billards took the water-damaged device to an independent, non-Apple affiliated repair shop, they heard a different story.

The owner of the shop, a self-taught repair technician named Jessa Jones, was actually able to repair the device to the point where it could boot. That allowed them to pull the pictures from it.

But, the gist of it, is that the iPhone’s data was recoverable — something that Apple said was not possible.

Apple’s Repair Policies

Apple’s official stance on the matter is this: if an iPhone is water-damaged and won’t boot up, there’s no way to recover the data that’s contained on it.

That’s a statement consistently spoken by Apple employees, as well as independent users of the Apple Support Forums.

But, as the video demonstrates, it’s not true across the board. Repair shop owner Jones suggests this is an example of Apple’s anti-repair policies.

“They don’t want people to try to fix their phone, to recover the data, they don’t care,” Jones told CBC. “They blame you, it’s your fault.

Is the Criticism Unfair?

Of course, Apple’s repair policies are there for legal, financial and practical reasons. Apple is a device-maker, it’s not a repair firm.

In other words, it’s simply not practical for the firm to take every water-damaged iPhone in for repair. More than that, it’s avoiding some tricky legal issues by training its employees to say that such repairs aren’t possible.

Apple and even third-party repair shops can’t guarantee that data is always recoverable if a device is water-damaged – some iPhones are actually beyond repair. In any case, it’s much simpler for Apple to simply deny that water-damaged iPhones are fixable.

What Should You Do?

First and foremost, back up the data on your iPhone as often as you can. If you’re taking it to a particularly perilous location or event, back it up before that.

But if the unthinkable happens and Apple won’t help you, then it may be worth taking the device to a third-party repair shop — even one that isn’t affiliated with Apple’s Authorized Service (AASP) Provider program.

Normally, this isn’t something we recommend. But good, third-party repair shops serve a purpose: repairing devices that Apple and AASPs simply won’t touch.

If there’s data on your damaged iPhone that absolutely must be recovered, price isn’t an object, and there are no Apple-approved other options available to you, visiting a third-party repair shop or data recovery firm is something to consider.

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