iPhone Survives 7 Hours Underwater Without Waterproof Case

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I’ve dunked my fair share of cell phones in the water since I started guiding. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but my first year of guiding alone, I had to make four trips to the AT&T store for new phones because of water damage. I was notorious for jumping out of my drift boat with my cell phone in my pocket. Thank goodness, back then, I had phone insurance. Other than that first painful year, I’ve managed to maintain a pretty respectable record for keeping my cell phones dry while fly fishing. So when I got a notice by email from AT&T recently to upgrade my iPhone to a 5, for a nominal fee, I took them up on the offer. This time, however, I passed on the insurance coverage to save some cash. At the time, it seemed like a good decision, but those thoughts quickly vanished this past week during a guide trip when I thought I’d safely dropped my cell phone into the front pocket of my waders, but instead lodged it between my waist pack and my waders.

My healthy beer gut did a good job of keeping my cell phone secure for the time being. I’d say it made it a good thirty minutes until it took a swim. I now know, after the fact, that my cell phone took a swim when I waded up to my waist to retrieve my clients nymph rig from a snag on the bottom of the stream. I vaguely remember hearing the sound of something falling in the water as I repositioned my waist pack to keep it from getting soaked, but I didn’t think anything of it at the time. It wasn’t until a couple fishing spots later, when I went to grab my cell phone to snap a photo of my client’s nice trout he’d caught, that I realized I had lost my phone. God, what a horrible feeling it is to lose a cell phone. As painful as it was, I pressed on with my guiding. For the next couple hours, I kept envisioning myself back in the AT&T store over and over at the time of purchase saying no to the saleslady when she asked me, “Are you absolutely sure you don’t want insurance coverage.” Then I’d think about the hundred or so photos of my newborn daughter that I’d taken with the new phone, and how stupid I was to have not taken the five minutes to synch my phone up with my computer. And when I couldn’t stand thinking of those visions, I’d hear the voice of my teenager telling me, “Dad, you need to buy a Lifeproof case” and me saying, “Son, those cost $100, this $30 case will do just fine.

Towards the end of the day, my gracious clients told me, “Kent, please take a few minutes to go look for your phone. We’ve had a wonderful day and both of us have caught a ton of fish. It won’t bother us in the least.” Are you sure, I replied?” Yes, Kent, please do so.” So, off I went, retracing all of our foot steps along the river throughout the day. I searched just about every spot, even looked in the shallow water along the banks and where we crossed the stream, but I found no sign of my cell phone. As I began the long walk back to my clients and finally accepted the fate of my cell phone, out of no where, that faint “plume-ping” sound of something falling in the water at the beginning of the day popped into my head. “That’s it” I thought, “That’s got to be where I lost my phone.” Luckily, the afternoon sun was shining in the very spot that I got my clients flies out of the snag, and it gave me good visibility all the way to the stream bottom. I waded to the very spot, perched my hands up on the sides of my sunglasses and scanned the bottom of the stream. Ten feet below that snag, resting on the bottom of the river in four feet of water, laid my cell phone. I grabbed my long handled net and scooped it up.

My phone had been submerged for about seven hours at that point, but I still felt relief knowing I didn’t have to worry about some hacker and identity thief stumbling upon my phone in the woods. When I got home from the trip, I propped the phone next to my dehumidifier in the garage and hoped for the best. Six hours later, before I called it a night, I brought it back into the house and plugged it into the wall charger. To my amazement, the phone turned right on, and I’ve been using it with no problems ever since. I have to give credit to Apple for building a phone that managed to take this insane amount of punishment. I was lucky as hell that the phone still works, and I’ve ordered a waterproof case that I’m awaiting delivery on. If I drop it in the water again, I’ll be ready. That is, if I remember where I dropped it again, which I probably won’t. Below is the waterproof case I ordered. It’s not your average case though, it’s got a wide angle lens built into the case.

Hitcase Waterproof iPhone Case with Wide-Angle Lens


So there’s today’s post. It’s not the fly fishing tips post that you usually get from me, but it’s a good story on the water that I had to share with all of you.

Keep it Reel,

Come fish with us in the Bahamas!

Kent Klewein
Gink & Gasoline
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25 thoughts on “iPhone Survives 7 Hours Underwater Without Waterproof Case

  1. Kent,

    I helped rescue gear of a family of kayakers from the Toccoa this spring. One of the casualties of their run-in with a couple sweepers was the father’s cell phone and car keys. I had to wait until the next day and low water to help him search for it. We found other stuff at dawn the next morning (two of his kayaks, cooler, clothing) but no cell phone and no keys. Water rose about an hour after sunrise when they generated , so we had to go. The next day, I went back and got the cell phone and keys. It was a Samsung, I think, but not the new waterproof kind. I told him to not turn it on and to put it and the key fob in a bag of rice, which he did. The rice method worked for me with my old cell (not a smart phone) when I dropped it in the Toccoa for a couple hours two years ago. It was the equivalent, I think, of your dehumidifier. The next day the guys’ phone and car opener worked fine. Two days in the Toccoa. Two generations. And I still found it for him and it worked. He sent me a nice box of flies, which was not necessary but nice for him to do.

    Unfortunately, rescues of the uninitiated on the Toccoa are becoming more frequent.

      • Absolutely. I was floored. I thought all he might get is sim card and memory, not full use. When my old cell phone went into the Toccoa a couple years ago for about 2 hrs, I was able to rescue and revive it. However, silt and sand were as much an issue as water and I had to take the whole thing apart, dry it, and clean it with help of Verizon folks. But the rice worked, which is why I suggested it this time.

  2. Download the find my iphone app man. Lost my iphone in the deer woods, went home wifes iphone and took me right to it. Not sure it would work under water but I wouldn’t bet against apple

  3. Ah the feeling of dunking a cell phone in the water…. Just plain sucks. I’ve had my fair share of phones drop in the water. I remember one phone in particular (an android) that kept finding its way into the water. I revived that damn phone at least a half dozen times and probably more honestly. The rice trick does work and that’s how the android survived. I wouldn’t try turning it on and as soon as I got home I would take it all apart and place the pieces in some Tupperware, cover it with rice, and leave it for a couple days… Worked like a charm for me every time. I bought a new iPhone several months back and went ahead and threw down the coin for a lifeproof case. I still went back and forth though. They’re expensive and I hadn’t even heard of them yet. But after some research it seemed like the best choice for me and my shitty track record with phones. Hell you can even buy a life jacket for your phone so it doesn’t sink! The next month I went to Michigan and did some smallmouth and carp fishing. That brand new iPhone fell in the water 3 times that week. Needless to say that cemented the fact that I had made a good decision in bumping up to the lifeproof instead of getting an otter box. That Hitcase looks pretty sweet too. Let me know how you like it.

  4. A great story and cautionary tale. Honestly, I imagine that it wouldn’t take much to make these puppies waterproof and I’d have been willing to pay a few extra dollars for it. But then there goes the revenue from insurance, replacements, and aftermarket cases. What’s important, after all, if it’s not the almighty dollar?

  5. I am so glad this worked out for you. I remember us looking for Lisa’s camera and found it in the creek. (How I hated to tell my wife we had sunk her camera) It had pictures of the great trout you put me on that day, but the camera failed to pass the test. You, my friend, are lucky. I appreciate you helping me find the camera in the creek. I think we should invent waders where it is impossible to put the camera and the cellphones in anyplace that is not waterproof. I bet Lewis would even buy a pair.

  6. The rice trick does work most of the time, but my extensive experience (with phones and cameras) is that if you change the rice after the first 12 hrs, and let it sit for at least two day, the odds of success go way up. I know two days is a long time without a smart phone, but its not a bad idea to have a second, cheaper back up phone, or for that case, a cheaper “fish phone” that wont set you back hundreds of dollars when you can’t dry it out.

  7. OK guys, here is the question that has been running through my mind through all of these posts. For the love of St. Patrick, why in the world do you take a cell phone out with you when you are fishing ?????
    The last thing in the world I want with me while I am on the water is a damn cell phone ringing in my pocket! I am usually there to get away from the hustle bustle and the constant demands everyone seems to have for my time. And EXPECIALLY away from the damn phone(s) ringing constantly !!
    I am probably a bit older that most in this post chain and I have come to the age of realizing that I DO NOT have to be in constant contact with the world, or the world with me for that matter. Anything that happens can wait at least until I get back to my truck, where I leave the phone when I head for the river for the day to fish & relax. I refuse to take my cell phone with me and have the damn thing ringing in my pocket all day pissing me off and ruining my enjoyment !! I wouldn’t take the damn thing with me for all of the Guinness in Ireland !!!
    Thanks for listening guys, that is my take on cell phones vs quality time fishing.
    Jeff, the “grumpy old fart”

    • 1- When I wade or boat alone, I like to have a way to contact people if something goes wrong, like rolling an ankle or sinking my boat. Also, I spend some time in positions of responsibility, such as president of my fraternity (back when I was in school), or on call for work, and need to be able to be reached if needed. That being said, if I don’t need to be available, I can turn the phone off with no calls or texts, and still have it on me in case of emergency.

      Believe me, it’s off whenever I can afford it.

        • Point(s) taken. However, most of the time the places where I fish the signal is so weak that I couldn’t make a call if I had to. However, there is all too often just enough signal to make my phone ring but it is too weak to converse. THAT and the frustration of being interrupted is when I quit taking the stupid thing on the water with me.

          • My suggestion to not get disturbed: Put the phone on mute ringer or vibrate and ignore it. For me, bringing the phone is a safety mechanism. For one thing, you may need to call for help. Also, I loaded a free app that (among other GPS functions) sends back my location periodically to my home computer. It is called Motion-X GPS. If I ever get disabled, they would be able to find me using Find My Phone or my GPS tracking reports or both.

  8. Oh thank you so much for posting people. My phone went missing and it has a lot of important stuff on there including last pictures of my mum and everything I need to settle her estate.
    Anyhow the following day someone returned it to me which is a miracle in itself, they only found me through Facebook as I’m friends with the manager of a pub where it was found in our tow. Some lovely soul had put it down the toilet in the men’s . It’s in the rice now. It was down there for at least 8 hours, in god knows what. Your story has given me hope. I’ll give it a go, you never know .Thanks so much.

  9. I know this is an older post, but cross your fingers for me. My two-year-old dropped my new LG K10 in the toilet today. It may have been submerged for as long as 1-2 minutes before he got my attention, I do not know; the phone was still on when I retrieved it from the toilet, but shorted out / turned off as I pulled it out. I made no attempt to turn it back on.

    It had a nice, tight, water-resistant case on it that should have helped some. Took the back off, took the battery out, shook it out, dried off the insides as best I could, and now have it set out to dry. (No, I’m not doing the rice trick, lots of sites say open air is better.) Going to give it 48 hours before I even try to turn it back on.

    It’s a budget phone, but I’m a single mom on a budget and I just got it to replace the last phone that broke 10 days ago, so I’m really hoping it survives. I can’t find where anyone online has reported back on how well the LG K10 survived water incidents. Hearing that your phone survived 7 hours submerged gives me some hope.

    I’ve had two water incidents with LG G2s. The first time, my son dunked it in the toilet on purpose; no idea how many times it was submerged or for how long. I was an idiot and tried turning it on and charging it right away. After two days of drying, it recovered with some quirks (fuzzy camera, power button became another volume down button). The second time (new LG G2), I briefly dropped it in the toilet. Turned it off immediately and dried for 48 hours. Worked perfectly.

      • I just did the same thing (no, I can’t blame my two year old unfortunately, it was all me). I opened it up, dried it off and out as best I could, and now am going to try to resist the urge to turn it on for two days. Hope I have the same luck.

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