Fix iPhone 5 Water Damage

Backstory: We got rained out pretty bad immediately following the last song of Kings of Leon at ACL. Having walked from our digs nearby, the first thought is to get out of the rain. Buses seem like a good idea, but things go hilariously wrong, and the journey back to the pad takes a stupid amount of time. After we reach the comfort of said pad, I extract my phone and assorted festival-going belongings from my bag.

The phone looks a little strange and displays “Searching” in the top left. Additionally, it is evident from looking at the display that water has entered the casing. Grab my flashlight to check inside of the headphone jack and am astonished to find that the water damage indicator dot there has not turned bright orange. I shut it down and leave it alone for the rest of the night.

The next morning I turn it on again, SSDD. It’s running pretty hot, so I turn it off. I get on my laptop and discover that the organizers of ACL have canceled Day 3 due to flooding in Zilker Park. So.. back to Houston.

Remedial Action Taken

Take iPhone 5 to nearest Apple Store where:
I am informed that my iPhone 5 has clear signs of water damage. The thing is still wet inside of the casing.
I am offered a direct replacement for one of those refurbished units that they bring out of the back room for $279.

Refuse this generous offer (never pay for shit)

Go back home and consider the merits of downgrading to a non-smartphone (dumb phone) (feature phone).

Decide that I have enough of a history taking things (including iPhone) apart

DIY Repair of iPhone 5 Water Damage: Challenge accepted

Beautiful, beautiful iFixit. This resource has proven invaluable time and time again because it takes the guesswork out of dealing with electronics.

After taking the iPhone 5 apart and separating the display from the rest of the chassis, I noted a burnt area adjacent to the SIM card slot.

Distilled water immersion. I have always wanted to try this. My last attempt at bringing back an iDevice from the grave using 90% IPA did not go well because the alcohol destroyed adhesives used in manufacturing. Distilled water is terrific.

I used an old toothbrush in conjunction with distilled water to gently brush away any signs of foreign deposits on the mainboard.

The separated parts were buried in uncooked rice for 24 hours before being fitted again for testing. Still no dice on my iPhone 5’s ability to join the AT&T network. Within the Settings menu, no baseband appears.

Some bad information from the Philippines leading to Error -1 in iTunes. Unable to flash the device, I’m stuck with an iPhone 5 in recovery mode.

Mysterious leads courtesy of a quick search for information that point to U601_RF. Looks like it’s time to invest in a hot air setup.