Thoughts on product design + user experience

iPhone survives underwater plunge into pit of doom!

Written by bbb on February 19, 2009

Just had to share this terrific story from Trevor Mann, a colleague of mine at Primal Fusion. Trevor, flaunting the stereotypical image of an IT systems specialist (especially here in the home of Blackberry), is pretty fond of Apple’s iPhone. The other day, he had reason to feel an even fonder affection. But it was an emotional roller coaster. Here’s the story in Trevor’s words.

Two days ago I found out just how tough my iPhone actually is.

This iPhone had already survived multiple drops to the floor, including a dramatic 4-foot fall onto concrete and numerous incidents while being handled by my 2 -year-old kid. Never has the screen scratched. It’s developed only cosmetic scratches on the back and sides. So I’ve become accustomed to these everyday abuses to my phone — but nothing prepared me for this experience.

My story begins two nights ago in my basement, during a serious winter thaw. As a good home owner, I was checking my sump pump to make sure it was functioning properly, because the local weather forecast was calling for massive amounts of rain. Severe basement flooding is common in these winter scenarios. So I did my thing: I lubricated the float rod to ease its range of motion; I inspected the electrical and plumbing connections; and I made sure the water in the pit looked clear. Everything looked good so I decided to go back upstairs.

I turned around quickly because one of my kids was yelling my name — and suddenly heard an alarming “splash!”and “ka-plunk!”.

At first I thought, “Oh shoot, I dropped the WD-40 inside the sump pit full of water.” I turned back around to fish out the spray can… and to my horror (and I mean horror!) observed my iPhone shining back at me from under two feet of water. Yeah, that’s right: it was still turned ON, with a lit-up screen. I guess when it fell out of my case, it hit a button and activated the screen.

“@?%$##!!” I gasped, then snatched it out of the water ASAP.

“@?%$##!!” I exclaimed again as water kept draining from the phone. “There goes three hundred bucks and a 3-year contract!!!”, I miserably thought.

“@?%$##!!” I concluded (but to myself of course, as my children were somewhere nearby).

I powered off the iPhone right away and shook it for a good five minutes trying to drain all the water from its casing. I placed it under a lamp for three hours — then let it sit overnight. The next morning, I steeled myself and tried to power it back up again. And to my amazement, IT WORKED! Phone, speakers, GPS, wireless, headphones, battery charging… EVERYTHING! This puppy was sitting under two feet of water, still turned ON, but came through without a hitch. It’s still working fine, two days later.

In fact, as I type this e-mail, I’m listening to music on it.