iPhone 5 water incident - no camera, options?

Did something stupid, dropped my iPhone 5 into a large quantity of water. I pulled it out, dried it off, pulled the sim card, and did the immerse in rice trick (which worked beautifully with my wife’s Galaxy S3 when she dropped hers in water.) Of course, with most phones you can open the back, pull the battery, etc. but the iPhone has no such options.

Well, after about a week you could no longer see water in the screen, and the phone apparently works just fine. Except for one thing: the camera no longer functions. Gah.

So, since this is a work phone (I am allowed to use it for personal and work) my IT lady (who is quite good) checked all of the options. Water damage is not in the warranty, of course. New phone without a contract is roughly the cost of a used Porsche 911. Verizon/Apple do not seem very interested in any kind of “repair” option, just offering a refurb for less than a Porsche but still a LOT of money.

Since we have about 5-6 months before the contract expires, we decided best course of action was to just live without the camera, then around November get a new iPhone (and the new phones may be out around then.) But I am finding that being without the camera is a real inconvenience; I’d forgotten how much I’d gotten use to having a camera with me at all times. Also, that means the “flashlight” function and other apps no longer work (such as the barcode scanner, the square whatsit codes scanners, the heart rate monitor, etc.)

Since it is technically owned by the company, they are resistant to going the Craigs list route. I guess I’m asking, does anyone have any ideas on how to either get it repaired inexpensively (which I assume is undoable) or has anyone had the camera go out on them and found a “trick” to get it to function again?


Pay $199 at apple store. Beats $650. Apple most certainly offers a “repair” option. This is it. Replacing the phone. There is fluid damage and the rest of the phone could crap out or die in addition to just the camera not working.

Get the company to pay for the replacement. We’ve had to do so for a dozen “oops” manager phones at work. This one-time cost was decided to be less than springing for AppleCare Plus back when we got the phones in 2010.

Then spend $70 on an Incipio Atlas case.

Replacement’s only $199, right? I don’t think that’s unreasonable. When you replace the phone at your next contract renewal you can probably sell it for at least 1.5x that. (Oh, company phone… Well, you’ll have a fully-working phone you can pass down to another employee that will keep them off contract.)

I just paid $149 to replace my wife’s 32GB iPhone 4, which had multiple issues. Well worth it because we can sell it for at least that much when the 5S comes out and she replaces it.

Probably too late, but we pay for Verizon insurance. A replacement iPhone is still between $99 and $150 depending upon the model, but it beats the cost of no-subsidy/retail phone.

I see replacement cameras available on Ebay for under $20 (or ifixit for $40), and you could probably bribe your IT lady to do it for way less than $199.

Whoa! Never occurred to me that I could actually open this up and do it myself! That sounds fun (seriously.) I think I may try that, thanks.

Its a gamble since I don’t know what actually caused the phone camera to die when it got wet, but for that small a price what’s to lose?

It’s not your property but the company’s. I’d be annoyed if one of our staff issued phones were DIYed.

I am the Corporate Technical Director and the IT person in question reports to me. I respect them, listen to them, and if she tells me that, in her experience the odds of me screwing it up is higher than fixing it, I’ll listen to her. But it’s a budget for which I am ultimately accountable.

Hmm if you’re calling the shots, go crazy. I’d just be worried about messing up a “simple” repair or if the water damage ends up messing more than just the camera but you don’t know it yet. The refurbs you pay for from Apple Store are only covered for 90 days too.

I’ll look at the guides on taking it apart and see how complicated it seems, and how easy to screw it up. If it is fairly straightforward, I’ll go for it. If it appears there is a significant chance of doing more damage, I’ll just check out the Apple Store option (closest Apple store to me is two hours away though.)

Does the front camera work? It’s not perfect, and much lower-res, but you could just start using that in a pinch, using the shutter button to take shots as you hold the front of the phone away from you.

Tried that, on both the standard camera and Camera+ the switch cameras button does not work. Good idea though. i had not thought of that until you suggested it.

It seems like spending all of your billable time on fidgeting with this for questionable gains (other parts may be broken, affected by water damage) is more expensive than getting it swapped. The 2 hour drive definitely is a bummer though.

Well, on the one hand, I enjoy tinkering with stuff like this, so it could be a fun Saturday afternoon project. As opposed to 4 hours total driving (do they keep the refurbs in stock in the store?) OTOH - looking at the instructions online, this is not as simple as pulling the case off, taking out 3 or 4 screws and a cable connector, popping in the new camera, then reassembling. Following all of the steps to take it apart (and there are a lot) looks doable if you’re patient - but it looks like it could be easy to struggle to get everything put back together again. If it was a “second” phone, I wouldn’t hesitate, but this is my only phone and I can’t afford to get it apart and not be able to get it together again. Hmmmm.

They have lots of stock instore. Make a Genius appointment and phone the day of to confirm ability to replace if you want to be doubly sure.

Do you have any old handsets lying around? Use that without a SIM for camera purposes.

Edit: ah, dammit, didn’t realise this was a spam necro.