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IPhone -Reports Show Apple May Be Loosening Water Damage Policy on iPhones

January 31, 2011

Reports Show Apple May Be Loosening Water Damage Policy on iPhones

By Susan J. Campbell
TMCnet Contributing Editor

Most smartphone users know there really isn’t a warranty for water damage. If you drop your phone in a puddle or at least get it wet enough to render it useless, you might as well plan on just buying a new phone or paying for repairs. This is especially true for iPhone (News - Alert) users accustomed to Apple’s notorious unwillingness to help out a customer making a mistake.

That policy may be changing, however, according to this Appolicious report, but not necessarily due to Apple’s (News - Alert) good graces.

The iPhone – like other cell phones and smartphones – has liquid contact indicators (LCIs) or small sensors that indicate whether or not the device has been in contact with water. If the sensors are tripped, Apple Store employees were told to dismiss any warranty claims.

This policy apparently got the wrong group of iPhone customers mad and they banded together in a class-action lawsuit against Apple, claiming the LCIs were not always accurate. Users discovered that the sensors could be tripped by more than just water, including sweaty palms, humidity or even cold.

The lawsuit was brought initially by a woman who ended up buying three different iPhones because the first two broke within six months of purchase. In both situations, she was told the sensors on the phone had indicated significant exposure to water. She claimed in this lawsuit that Apple knew the sensors were at least overly sensitive and possibly even defective.

While information on the lawsuit itself is difficult to find, information found in leaked documents by iGeneration show that iPhone owners could get some relief where liquid contact sensors are concerned.

The documents appear to be a guide for Apple Store employees on how to address iPhones with triggered LCIs. Instead of looking at the indicator and voiding the warranty, the document recommends that the employees be a little more thorough in their assessment and look for clear signs of water damage.

The document clearly states: “If a customer disputes whether an iPod with an activated LCI has been damaged by liquid contact and there are no external signs of damage from corrosion, then the iPod may still be eligible for warranty service.”

So far, it is only speculation that the document is even real, but if it is, this could mean that LCI is not the end-all indicator that the iPhone user damaged the phone with water. And, if you do have a problem with your iPhone, just hope you get a good Apple Store employee to help you.

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Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMCnet and has also written for To read more of Susan’s articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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