Common Phone Emergencies (and How to Deal with Them)

In a little over a decade, smartphones have gone from a cool toy to an indispensable accessory. Americans look at their phone screens about once every 12 minutes, or 80 times a day. That dependency is only expected to grow, too. One study estimates that by 2025, nearly three-fourths of Internet users will only access the internet from their smartphones. In other words, losing access to your phone can feel a little like losing a body part. But cell phone calamities can and do happen, and you’ve got to be prepared. Here’s how to respond to three common cell phone emergencies. 

Broken screen

If you’re carrying your phone with you a lot, it makes sense that you’re occasionally going to drop it. If you’re lucky, you’ll drop it while you’re sitting on the couch or at your desk. No harm, no foul. If you’re not lucky, you’ll drop it from the window of your second-story apartment and crack your screen.

Your screen may work for a while yet, but it’s not going to look pretty. You’ll feel like you’re walking around with a broken mirror in your pocket (although it won’t be that sharp, at least). The phone’s screen may not work at all, in which case the situation is obviously more urgent. You need to get on your tablet or laptop and start researching screen repair options in your area. In many cases, you should be able to get your screen repaired the very same day it breaks.

Don’t try to fix it yourself, at least not unless you’ve repaired a smartphone screen before. Chances are, taking the phone in for repairs first will be cheaper than tinkering with it and then asking someone else to address both the damage from the fall and the damage from your initial repair attempt.

You dropped it in water

If you drop your phone in water, you should toss it in a bag of rice and everything will be fine, right? Not so much. That’s a more of an old wives tale than a good solution. In fact, experts say what you don’t do is just as important as what you do. You should not plug your phone in to check if it works. If you do that, the electricity could fry your phone. You wouldn’t use an outlet while you were in the tub, would you? Then don’t plug in your phone right after dropping it in the tub either.

In fact, experts say you should turn off your phone enitirely if it gets wet. Then see if you can get it professionally dried out. That won’t happen at a hair salon; instead, you’ll need to find a company like DryBox that can put your phone in a special chamber to dry it. That’s probably your best shot at repairing a wet phone rather than having to replace it. 

And in the future, leave your phone in your bag (or in the trunk of your car) if you’re going swimming or taking pro surfing lessons. You can’t prevent every accident, but you shouldn’t be bringing your phone to places with a lot of water. 

It won’t hold a charge

Granted, a phone not charging might not be quite as big an emergency, but it’s still annoying and frustrating. Walking around with a phone that has a low battery feels like driving a car with the low fuel light on: Pretty soon, you’re going to need to power it up. 
First, try another adapter. Some chargers can get damaged pretty easily, which is why it’s always a good idea to keep a backup or two somewhere in your house. You can also try plugging your phone right into a wall rather than a USB hub or power strip. Sure, the USB hub on your bedside lamp looks cool, but it might not be providing your phone with enough power.