Here's How To Handle Any (& Every) Kind Of iPhone Mishap

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
It happens in slow motion. Your phone is sitting there, calmly, quietly, on the table. You take a sip of your pale ale, when suddenly, the firm pint glass in your hand turns to ice. It slips out of your grasp and, in an instant that lasts an eternity, smashes down right on your phone's screen, which has now exploded into a spiderweb of dagger sharp cracks.

It doesn't make sense. The laws of physics just ceased to exist for exactly long enough that your precious is now on life support. It's a terrible feeling, but one we know all too well. Over the years, we've broken our phones in every conceivable way possible — and a few ways we didn't think were possible.

Depending on the situation, and its severity, your phone may not have to become a sacrifice to the upgrade gods. You can salvage it. Ahead, here's how to handle the situation.
1 of 7
You Accidentally Drove Over Your Phone

What To Do:
Your phone may not be as dead as it might look. First, try turning it on. Then, depending on how damaged the display is (don't scratch your fingers on broken glass!) try checking out other functions, like whether the home button works and if the front and rear facing cameras work. If the device can't turn on, you've likely damaged the battery or the display itself, and those will need to be replaced. If your phone escaped and miraculously looks unscathed, still give it a rundown for all hardware-related tasks, from powering on and off to adjusting the volume — it's possible that a connection inside could be bent.

You can do the repairs yourself if you're feeling intrepid. iFixit offers step-by-step how-to guides, along with the parts and tools you need to get the job done. (To get inside the phone, you just need this $10 kit.)

If your phone is truly beyond repair, you can still trade it in with Apple or another phone buying site to get some compensation that can go toward a new phone purchase. Even a decimated phone has valuable materials that smartphone recyclers can resell.
2 of 7
The Screen Cracked

What To Do:
You just need to get the screen repaired. It's not that expensive ($80 to $120 — way more reasonable than buying a new phone), and you can even have someone come to your home or office and fix it for you. Some services, such as iCracked, offer an affordable monthly subscription service if you're a repeat offender and need your screen repaired ASAP.

If an Apple store is nearby, you can also make an appointment and get it fixed there while you wait. (If it's a really terminal case, it could take up to five days to fix, though). For an iPhone 5, screen repair costs $50; for a 6s, it's $100. If your phone is still under warranty, you can get your phone replaced, or repaired at a cheaper cost.

Just be careful handling your phone until it's fixed — those glass shards can be surprisingly sharp. Place your phone in a sandwich bag before storing it in a purse or bag to prevent tiny glass pieces from falling out and stabbing you later.
3 of 7
Your Phone Just Went For A Swim

What To Do:
The good news is many recent smartphone models are a lot more water resilient than they were a few years ago. With some quick action, you can almost definitely restore your phone to its non-water soaked glory.

But, first things first, get it out of the water as quickly as possible. Dab off residual moisture on the outside, then switch it off. If you have an Android phone with a removable back, take it off and pop out the battery. If it fell in a sticky or sugary liquid, you need to submerge it (yes) in 99% ISO rubbing alcohol for five to 10 seconds to remove any sugary residue that could gunk up your phone later on.

Next, if a fan is handy, you can sit it in front of a fan for a few. You can also use a blowdryer, but only (ONLY) if you use it on a low, cool setting — a strong heat setting could do more damage than good to the delicate electronics inside.

After that, the best thing to do is to fill a plastic bag partially full with a desiccant, a material that absorbs moisture. If you have those little packets that come with a new purse, shoes, or a jacket purchase, that will work great. Stick your phone in the bag and seal it up, then leave it alone for a day or so (or at least overnight).

If you don't have a desiccant, alternatively you can use a grain such as rice or couscous. If you use this, be careful though — those tiny grains have a way of wedging themselves into any teensy nook or cranny in your phone, like its charging port.

After doing this, your phone should be good as new.
4 of 7
You Left Your Phone In A Hot Car Or Direct Sunlight

What To Do:
A hot phone is not a happy phone, so you want to gently cool it down.

First, be careful when you touch it — the phone could be really hot. Once it's okay to touch, get it out of direct sunlight. Then, either turn it off, or put it on Airplane Mode. By reducing battery activity (the largest heat generator inside the phone), you'll help it cool down faster. You don't want to put it in the fridge or drop it in a cooler — the rapid temperature change could trap potential moisture inside as condensation.

Your phone should recover just fine once it's cooled down (especially if you didn't see an on-screen temperature warning before shutting it down).

If you're constantly in extremely hot (or cold) conditions, you might try a Salt case, which is designed to protect your phone from temperature extremes. In general, leaving your phone in hot conditions (like a car) regularly can damage internal components and cause data loss, kill your battery, or cause your battery to leak or expand.
5 of 7
Your Phone Won't Charge Anymore

What To Do:
If your phone is having difficulty charging, it could be because there's some buildup or debris inside the charging port. Switch the phone off (important), then use a toothpick to do some gentle excavating. If you're lacking a toothpick, a bobby pin or needle may also do the trick. You can also try spraying a can of condensed air into the port to remove loose debris.

You can use this same technique on your phone's headphone port too, for example, if it seems to automatically play music in headphone mode even if no buds are plugged in. You can also use a Q-tip.

If something is really, really jammed in there, you can try dabbing a tiny bit of Super Glue on the tip of the toothpick, touching it to the object in the port, waiting a few minutes for it to dry, and then pull it out. Be very careful not to go overboard with the glue though, or you'll end up with another thing lodged in.
6 of 7
Malware Is Mucking Up Your Experience

What To Do:
Pop-ups, suddenly slowed performance, or data mysteriously disappearing from your phone — you may have an unwanted piece of software running in the background. You need to remove the malware, and prevent it from further deleting or stealing the data on your phone.

If you haven't already, download a trusted antivirus app (here are some to choose from) and run the app to see if it finds anything.

If you're having trouble deleting a fishy app, on Android, you can reboot your phone in Safe Mode to delete it. To do this, start shutting down the phone normally, then, when the "Power off" prompt shows up, long press the power button (on Samsung phones, you may have to hold the volume down button instead). A prompt will appear asking if you want to reboot in safe mode — tap okay. When your phone reboots, you'll be able to delete any questionable apps.

If you've done this and still think malware is on your phone, backup your data and do a factory reset. This will completely wipe your phone, as if it were brand new, so anything you don't backup will be lost.

Finally, be sure to change all passwords, and contact your bank to get new cards delivered. If you've made any transactions on your handset, it's possible your accounts could be compromised, and it's better to be safe than having your identity stolen.
7 of 7
You Dropped Your Phone

What To Do:
If you dropped it and things don't look outwardly damaged (or merely slightly dented), turn the phone off and on, and then run through various activities to make sure everything is functioning correctly — the home button, power button, volume button, and cameras.

If there's a large dent in the rear of the phone, you may want to have it inspected by a professional to make sure the battery hasn't been compromised. (You don't want a smartphone exploding in your pocket, that's for sure.) Dents in the corners are generally cosmetic — your phone just has more character now.

If the screen's glass was damaged (as we mentioned before), be careful handling it. If the glass is only slightly cracked, you can keep using it, but you should think about getting it fixed. It should cost less than $100. If the display itself is messing up, showing rainbows of colors or black sections of dead pixels, you'll definitely want to get it fixed at an Apple store or through another repair service. The headache of trying to make out what your friends texted you through strips of black, unresponsive pixels is not worth the money savings.