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iPhone's Liquid Sensors Can Be Triggered By Wintertime Use

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the contribute-better-translation dept.

Bug 484

An anonymous reader writes "The Polish website Moje Jabluszko ran an experiment that proves the poor reliability of the liquid contact indicators (original, in Polish) installed by Apple in the iPhone. They performed three different tests to challenge the LCIs, which they recorded as a movie. They decided to mimic regular usage of the iPhone — meaning, you go outside where it could be cold or warm, then move inside in a building where temperature might be dramatically different, but still within covered conditions. So, they placed the iPhone in its box for one hour outside at -11 C, then moved it inside at room temperature for 24 hours. They repeated the experiment 3 times, and after the third cycle they could show that the LCI located in the audio jack plug started turning red! This is a clear proof that LCIs are not reliable and could turn red while the iPhone has been used under the defined environmental requirements defined by Apple. Here, only the condensing water could have been in contact with the sensor. In other words, even moving in and out during regular winter time will make you iPhone LCI turn red!" (In the tech specs for the iPhone, Apple rates the non-operating temperature range as -20 to 45 C.)

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Doubly unreliable (5, Funny)

samurphy21 (193736) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207116)

We do a lot of service on macbooks at work, and there's been times when we've taking a unit in for service that "won't turn on" and the user "has no idea why", only to find out they're drippy inside, and none of the liquid sensors are tripped.

Re:Doubly unreliable (2, Funny)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207126)

They really have liquid sensors in them? That seems so... Orwellian. Does that not bother anyone else?

Re:Doubly unreliable (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207168)

Mac users are giant babbys who need Steve Jobs to hold their hands and watch out for them through everything in life.

So.. no.

Re:Doubly unreliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207216)

I have an T-Mobile sidekick. The power connectors have bent and broken. Repeat, the power connectors are bent.

But the little white square has the smallest portion of red on an edge. So I potentially have to pay more than I have spent on insurance fees to get a replacement 3 year old phone.

Its like saying my car radio not working is the result of my bumper having NORML bumper stickers.

Re:Doubly unreliable (5, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207176)

I don't think Orwell has anything to do with putting a sensor strip that turns color if you dunk the computer in water, clearly in violation of the warranty. So, while it may be kind of a dick move, its not some secret authoritarian plot of doom.

Re:Doubly unreliable (2, Insightful)

sp332 (781207) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207178)

It's basically self-defense for the laptop. What's Orwellian about it?

Re:Doubly unreliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207506)

To be fair, it is self defense for the insurance company that has to pay out for warranty claims, not the laptop. And that is a little bit like the insurance company watching what you do with the laptop.

Re:Doubly unreliable (5, Funny)

LtGordon (1421725) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207206)

They really have liquid sensors in them? That seems so... Orwellian. Does that not bother anyone else?

I can't quite figure out if this is flamebait, or if I'm just the only person who can't make a connection between liquid sensors in a consumer electronic device and a dystopian police state. If a liquid sensor bothers you so much, I hate to be the one to tell you, but ... don't turn your iPhone around ... there's even a camera!

So, no, to answer your question: it doesn't seem to bother me a bit.

Re:Doubly unreliable (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207384)

Well, the camera would bother me if Apple used it to record me voiding the warranty, and watched a playback of everything it had recorded when I took the iPhone in for service. That would not be cool.

But these LCIs, that's what they do on a very basic level. For some reason, I'm not comfortable with that. Maybe I'm just not indoctrinated into this new privacy-free culture enough.

Re:Doubly unreliable (1)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207456)

That's not what they do at all. I don't really see how this violates your privacy.

Re:Doubly unreliable (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207630)

Yes, it's worse. The LCI sensors can be activated without doing anything that violates the warranty.

Re:Doubly unreliable (4, Informative)

justinlee37 (993373) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207680)

According to some of the other posts on here, it seems like Apple has already covered this in the warranty agreement by specifying that the phone shouldn't be used in humid air where water can condensate.

Lame, sure, but hardly a conspiracy.

Re:Doubly unreliable (1)

zizzo (86200) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207394)

Almost all modern electronics have these little sensors. It's so manufacturers rightly don't have to cover warranty repairs for your accidental swim in the lake.

But yeah, they aren't necessarily reliable.

Re:Doubly unreliable (1)

An ominous Cow art (320322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207478)

It could merely have been a particularly bashful sensor.

Re:Doubly unreliable (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207640)

you think the iphone is the only device with a liquid sensor? there's one in MOST electronic devices (mobile ones anyway).. the reason is there is because the warranty does not cover water damage (dropping in in the sink/toilet)..

this study seems a little lacking. what was the ambient humidity? how much is required to trip the sensor and how does this compare with other devices? did they take a BBerry and subject it to the same conditions and it passed? what about the location of the one they tested - metal heats/cools faster, so there could be more condensation near the metal parts (headphone jack) how did the one at the other end (near the mic) fare? did all the sensors get triggered?

does a tripped sensor automatically mean you'll get denied a replacement if something goes wonky?

Scam (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207124)

LCI are just a way for companies to worm out of actually delivering on warranties.

Re:Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207164)

This.

They know the sensors don't work. Fortunately for phone companies, they fail in favor of the companies' interests.

Re:Scam (5, Insightful)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207256)

Yeah mod that up. The liquid sensors don't protect the devices in any way, other than to let you know you got the thing wet at some point. Many warranties are basically written to rule out the common things that would break a phone. It's especially annoying when you're paying a monthly fee for the warranty that adds up to the price of the phone or more in a year anyway, the least they could do is replace the thing when you break it even if you did drop it in your gin and tonic. If they make you agree that's not covered, fine, but then their sensors better be rock solid reliable. False positives are unacceptable.

Re:Scam (4, Insightful)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207268)

Solution:

Don't

Buy

Warranties

Re:Scam (1)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207406)

Solution: Don't Buy Warranties

The sad thing is, you didn't used to have to. Things came with 3,5,10, even lifetime warranties -- even electronics. Nowadays every consumer electronics company either wants to nickle-and-dime you with "insurance", or doesn't care for the expense and offers as little as a 30 day warranty.

That said, the problem is a lot worse in the normal consumer market than in the enthusiast one. An HP computer bought from Best Buy will cost you $350 for a three year warranty (that sucks), but most motherboards will have a 3 year warranty, hard drives have 5, some vendors of RAM and PSU's have lifetime warranties.

Re:Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207452)

Most companies will honour the warranties on their components, even if you bought the computer preassembled.

Re:Scam (1)

Cjstone (1144829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207510)

You have to watch out for "Lifetime Warranties," however. The definition of "lifetime warranty" is typically the "lifetime of the product on shelves," and many tech manufacturers switch SKUs every two years or so. That's still better than the one-year warranty you'll get with a laptop you buy at Best Buy, but not nearly as good as the term "lifetime warranty" would imply.

Don't Do It! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207628)

Never buy the lifetime warranty!

You don't want to lose your life over a consumer product!

Re:Scam (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207626)

Warranties are like insurance. You're paying some money for the feeling of safety. There are times when its worth it- when the replacement cost of the device is too high for you to comfortably pay. Buying one for something as cheap as a phone is stupid, but I can see it on larger purchases- say a car.

Re:Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207440)

I've got around the sensors that some phones have near the battery with the a good excuse. Neither phone failed because it had ever got wet anyway but the sensor was red.

"Oh, that was me. When the phone stopped working I read the troubleshooting section of the manual. It says to make sure the battery contacts were clean. I used a little bit of rubbing alcohol on a q-tip to clean them. I must have got a little on that red square thing your talking about. Next time I'll just bring it in to you guys to clean them."

On the flip side. My daughters phone keys were dying and although the sensor was not tripped, the phone tech took it apart and pointed out the brown sticky crap behind the keyboard membrane that resembled cola syrup and it was not covered, fair enough.

Re:Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207488)

Dude, my phone insurance replaced my phone no questions asked. Who covers your phone? Maybe they suck. My insurance actually covers dropping my phone in a lake. Why would you pay a monthly fee for a warranty that doesn't cover anything?

Re:Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207582)

I don't have insurance and just buy a replacement phone used on Ebay when mine breaks. Any phone except the most recent smartphones typically sell for under $50. My last two were actually "new" phones that people got replaced with insurance ;). Most phone insurance plans have a monthly fee of $3-8 and a $50 deductible.
General note about buying used phones. Call the carrier and verify the IMEI or the ESN is clear for activation. If a dead beat skipped out on their contract, the phone will be flagged and the carrier will not activate it until the balance is paid. Don't trust the seller. Call the carrier yourself with the number and ask. Most sellers will just say, "It works fine, I'm selling because I switched to a different carrier." They may think it should work but if there was a balance when they switched, you'll be stick with a phone only good for parts.

Re:Scam (1)

Kinky Bass Junk (880011) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207476)

So what does this study mean for those that have been stung by the warranty "violation" of the liquid sensors? Mine were set off due to standard Australian humidity, lost me a lot of money.

Re:Scam (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207562)

My concern as well, 70% humidity here in central florida is not uncommon and walking from that into a cold room can cause enough problems.

Re:Scam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207586)

They're actually a way of stopping scammers claiming on warranties when they've trashed the product themselves.

Which does several things, but one of them is keeping the cost more reasonable for the rest of us who aren't trying insurance fraud.

REDUNDANCY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207194)

[quote]defined environmental requirements defined by apple[/quote]
hope that worked.

also, redundant sentence is redundant.

Re:REDUNDANCY! (1)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207276)

You gotta use HTML kinda tags, not BBCode kinda tags. Also, the preview button lets you, you know, preview it.

Re:REDUNDANCY! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207540)

also, redundant sentence is redundant.

Stamp out redundancy and do away with it!

non-operating temperature range... (4, Funny)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207198)

The operating temperatures of 0 to 35C are completely held within the non-operating range of -4 to 45C. Sounds like a trick way of saying the phone isn't actually meant to work.

Re:non-operating temperature range... (2, Informative)

mystikkman (1487801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207240)

Err those are the safe temperatures for a switched off phone, not a range for which the phone must not be operated.

Re:non-operating temperature range... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207320)

And?

This has nothing to do whatsoever with actually operating the phone. Simple existence in these conditions, even with the battery removed, could result in a voided warranty.

Re:non-operating temperature range... (1)

Mr. DOS (1276020) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207568)

The specs [apple.com] say differently:

Environmental requirements

  • Operating temperature: 32 to 95 F
    (0 to 35 C)
  • Nonoperating temperature: -4 to 113 F
    (-20 to 45 C)
  • Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
  • Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)

      --- Mr. DOS

Re:non-operating temperature range... (1)

zygotic mitosis (833691) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207620)

I sense a paradox. How can the operating range coincide fully with the nonoperational range??

/pedant

Re:non-operating temperature range... (5, Interesting)

WizardX (63639) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207644)

The specs say differently:

Environmental requirements

Operating temperature: 32 to 95 F
(0 to 35 C)
Nonoperating temperature: -4 to 113 F
(-20 to 45 C)
Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)

You have got to be kidding me!!!

*Minimum* operating temp of 32 F?!?!?!

How the F can they sell this phone in northern climates? I live in WI and in Feb I will frequently go outside on a nice day to take a conf call and get some fresh air. A nice day being, at least, in the upper 20's.

Seriously dude, WTF?

/First /. post in like 5 years
//Apple makes some very nice products, but their arrogance is huge.
///Jobs was born is SW WI.

Condensation? (1)

sp332 (781207) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207200)

Taking something made of metal indoors and outdoors with a big temperature gradient is just *begging* for humidity to condense on it.

Re:Condensation? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207232)

Uhm.. yes, and the OTHER part of the 'defined operating conditions' is the humidity range, which is typically for electronics listed as 5%-95% _NON_CONDENSING_

So as much as it sucks, guess what, the sensor is accurately recording that the phone's been outside of operational specs.

Re:Condensation? (0, Troll)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207356)

There's an undocumented clause in the warranty that says it's invalidated if the user is an idiot who don't know how to properly care for a piece of electronics. Like letting it cool to -11C before exposing it to humid air at about 20C, instead of keeping the damn thing reasonably warm in your pocket. Sounds like the "liquid sensors" are effectively enforcing that clause as well.

Re:Condensation? (0)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207400)

Funny how this doesn't seem to bother properly designed electronics.

I have a cheapie digital SLR that I take in and out all the time in wildly varying humidity and temperature conditions, and it does just fine. Sometimes condensation forms on the lens, and that means your pictures suck. But it doesn't break the device. If Olympus can figure out how to do this with a device that has a sensitive CMOS sensor exposed to air, why can't we get a cell phone that won't break when put in the same room as a bathtub?

Re:Condensation? (5, Insightful)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207520)

It doesn't break. The article isn't about breaking, it's about the environmental change triggering the sensors. The ramifications are that Apple may/will refuse warranty service if they have been triggered, even if the failure was not a consequence of the humidity/condensation.

So you take your phone out on a cold day, bring it back in, then three months later it dies of natural causes. Apple refuses to fix it because some condensation occurred three months prior.

Although it's rare for a device to die just from some slight condensation, it's technically outside the specification. The way the warranty is worded, though, it would appear that they can only refuse to service devices for actual damage caused by the out-of-spec environment, not just because the device ever was in that environment. However, the burden of proving that the condensation didn't cause the issue is probably on you.

Uhhhhh... Condensation? (2, Insightful)

Tsu-na-mi (88576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207204)

As anyone who wears glasses could probably tell you, if you go outside for a while, then come back inside (mimic the conditions of the 'experiment'), the glasses are highly likely to fog up with condensation. Is this not a liquid?

Sounds to me like the sensors are working just fine.

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (2, Informative)

tprox (621523) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207238)

That's the point of the article. The sensors are working fine, but they trigger even when operating the iPhone well within the specified temperatures. In essence, using the iPhone as intended may still void your warranty.

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (2, Informative)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207550)

The iPhone might be well within the specified temperature range, but not within the specified humidity range.

Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing

Emphasis mine. Turns out condensation is outside the environmental specifications.

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (1)

poopdeville (841677) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207682)

A portable phone isn't fit for its purpose if you can't take it outside in humid states. It is meant to be a portable device.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Implied_warranty [wikipedia.org]

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (1)

Jhon (241832) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207258)

The problem is it's tripping a sensor within the documented parameters... Which -- as anyone who wears glasses could probably tell you (providing they used those classes to RTFA), void the warranty.

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (3, Informative)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207300)

As anyone who wears glasses could probably tell you, if you go outside for a while, then come back inside (mimic the conditions of the 'experiment'), the glasses are highly likely to fog up with condensation. Is this not a liquid?

Sounds to me like the sensors are working just fine.

No they aren't working properly.

The Apple warranty http://apple.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/02/20/0118230 [slashdot.org] on page 2 eliminates warranty claims if the iphone has suffered liquid spills or submersion.

Yet the sensors trip via simple humidity changes, not unlike those the phone would experience in daily use in northern climates.

The sensors are essentially exposed to the outside of the phone, one in the ear-phone jack, and another in the 30 pin connector.

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (3, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207408)

Non-condensing. It's right here: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html [apple.com]

Environmental requirements

        * Operating temperature: 32 to 95 F (0 to 35 C)
        * Nonoperating temperature: -4 to 113 F (-20 to 45 C)
        * Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
        * Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)

You have to obey them all, all the time. The sensor is simply just another component that might fail if you exceed these parameters. And it sounds like pretty convincing proof that you were in condensation conditions if the sensor fails by turning red.

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (1)

rcw-home (122017) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207592)

You have to obey them all, all the time.

You left out one other environmental requirement [cornell.edu] that must be obeyed.

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (1)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207616)

Where can you find noncondensing conditions exactly?

I live in the tropics, I go for a motorbike ride with my phone in my pocket for a couple of hours - 33 degrees and stupidly high levels of humidity. Stop all nice and stinky at my usual coffee place with the air-conditioner running inside at 18C - instant condensation. Not just on metal items - even your skin can become clammy for a brief time.

That said - we buy our phones outright in this part of the world. The manufacturer warranties normally run anywhere from 1 to 3 years - and we like it that way :-) We tend to buy Nokia / LG / Sony Ericsson rather than Apple though.

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207502)

You have to take care of electronic items and not expose them to conditions of condensation.

Not doing that is - aside from being retarded - something which rightly voids the warranty.

Re:Uhhhhh... Condensation? (1)

icebike (68054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207624)

There is nothing about condensation in the warranty. Did you follow the URL?

It talks about Spills and Submersion.

simple solution (4, Funny)

commodoresloat (172735) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207214)

Move to California.

Re:simple solution (1)

gyrogeerloose (849181) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207566)

Move to California.

Yeah, but maybe you should wait until June. El Niño his doing his thing here this winter.

Only -20C?? (5, Interesting)

onosson (1107107) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207218)

Wow - why do they even sell them here in Canada, then? Am I not supposed to take it outside below -20C? That's almost every night for half the winter! In fact, though, I've had my iPod Touch (1st Gen) for about 3 years, and I take and *use* it outdoors in -30 to -20 temperatures all the time - no problem. It's actually survived a dunking in the bathtub, too.

Re:Only -20C?? (4, Interesting)

biryokumaru (822262) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207242)

Likewise, in much of the US the specification of 35 C is much too low for use during a large portion of the summer.

Re:Only -20C?? (1)

WinterSolstice (223271) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207402)

True enough - when I get in my car in the summer (southwestern US) and it easily is above115F outside, it's probably a lovely 130F+ inside. A phone with an operating range that low is kinda pointless.

Seriously though - shouldn't whatever board certifies these devices at least require them to be certified for a reasonable temperature range?

Re:Only -20C?? (0, Troll)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207474)

Likewise, in much of the US the specification of 35 C is much too low for use during a large portion of the summer.

Are you trying to claim that the climate in the rest of the US doesn't mirror that of Cupertino?

Hmm... sounds like you need a little touch-up therapy from Jedi Jobs...

Condensation? (1)

smd75 (1551583) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207226)

I wonder how much condensation has to do with it.
Its freezing here in chicago and walking from the bus to the lincoln park conservatory, my camera gets cold enough that it instantly condenses when i get inside the conservatory.

When changing temperatures that drastically, I cant help but wonder the non liquid stress those indicators get

Read the next line in the env. specs, people. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207244)

As a confirmed and committed Apple loather, I have to say HA!

But I can also read. The line directly after the temperature limits says "Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing"

Noncondensing. Even the damned summary claims "only the condensing water could have been in contact with the sensor."

Goodness, look at that, saying "the iPhone has been used under the defined environmental requirements defined by Apple" is like saying it's some big conspiracy that running over it with a car breaks it, as long as it's been within -20 and +45C. You can't just pick ONE environmental limit to stay within and damn all the rest.

Noncondensing, people.

Re:Read the next line in the env. specs, people. (3, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207314)

You can get condensation without exceeding the relative humidity limit (incidentally what other computer has a humidity limit?). Just put a very cold iPod in a warm pants pocket. As long as the iPod is colder than the dew point, then you get condensation.

Re:Read the next line in the env. specs, people. (5, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207416)

The environment the phone was in was noncondensing. The environment IN the phone was condensing but how is the consumer to control that?

Consumer devices need to be built to withstand the normal environments they will be used in. Surprise, people sometimes come into a warm building from the cold outside.

If Apple gave half a crap about their users, they'd spring for the penny it would cost to shoot the insides with a bit of waterproofing spray rather than warranty void excuses before welding the back on.

Anti-consumerist horseshit (2, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207274)

While it's true that some portion of your customers are going to lie when they say there has been no water intrusion, including, at extra cost a device aimed at proving that your customer is lying on every device is unfair. Let alone close to the external extremedies of the device.

Here's a prediction: First they will deny the problem, and try to cast doubt on the testing methodolgy, then they will acknowledge the problem but claim that it only occurs in a very limited set of circumstances and offer restitution but only for those who complain loudest. Then they'll make a minor change that doesn't actually fix the problem and claim it is fixed (oh and raise prices to cover this change). They'll stall at every step. This seems to be right out of the Apple customer service manual, and they're not the only ones (but they are some of the worst). No different to scratchable iPod minis, or cracked laptop cases. Fucking horseshit.

But it's Apple, it just works, right? Come on fanbois, mod me into oblivion. I don't give a shit.

Re:Anti-consumerist horseshit (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207306)

you're such a rebel. also, suck my ballsack.

Re:Anti-consumerist horseshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207410)

With apples history this is exactly what they will probably do. I don't understand why anyone buys products from them.

Re:Anti-consumerist horseshit (1, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207446)

It's Apple, it just works, except for all the times when it doesn't.

Ubuntu just works too, except for all the times when it doesn't. But those times, you can actually google the problem and fix it yourself. Apple, you're boned.

Re:Anti-consumerist horseshit (5, Insightful)

dmomo (256005) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207548)

>> While it's true that some portion of your customers are going to lie when they say there has been no water intrusion, including, at extra cost a device aimed at proving that your customer is lying on every device is unfair. Let alone close to the external extremedies of the device.

Well said. Good contribution to the thread.

>> Here's a prediction: First they will deny the problem, and try to cast doubt on the testing methodolgy, then they will acknowledge the problem but claim that it only occurs in a very limited set of circumstances and offer restitution but only for those who complain loudest.

Decent editorial insight. The kind of thing that sparks great conversation.

>> Then they'll make a minor change that doesn't actually fix the problem and claim it is fixed (oh and raise prices to cover this change). They'll stall at every step. This seems to be right out of the Apple customer service manual, and they're not the only ones (but they are some of the worst). No different to scratchable iPod minis, or cracked laptop cases.

Still decent, but you're starting to get worked up!

>> Fucking horseshit.

Yep. You're working yourself up, son!

>> But it's Apple, it just works, right? Come on fanbois, mod me into oblivion. I don't give a shit.
And then you just slide down hill. If you were to be modded down, I don't think it'd have been because of your opinions / insights above. It's the fact that you seem to be asking for it right here. Maybe you're proud of your dissent and want to think the comments are controversial? Sorry, no. They grabbed my attention and got me thinking. But now I've forgotten everything you've said because of your silly little outburst.

What are the sensors made of? (1)

Psychotic_Wrath (693928) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207322)

I know that the sensors turn red or a different color when they get wet, is this because they litmus paper? I have thought that they could change colors because of the pH of water. Does anybody know exactly what causes the color change. What the sensor is made of.

Re:What are the sensors made of? (2, Informative)

juicegg (1683626) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207368)

I believe the sensor is 3M Material 5559, which is a kind of humidity indicator [wikipedia.org] . Wiki says, that these are usually made from Cobalt(II) chloride, which in pure form turns from blue to red powder by absorbing water.

Re:What are the sensors made of? (5, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207606)

I believe the sensor is 3M Material 5559, which is a kind of humidity indicator [wikipedia.org] . Wiki says, that these are usually made from Cobalt(II) chloride, which in pure form turns from blue to red powder by absorbing water.

Either that or the phone is pregnant.

Re:What are the sensors made of? (1)

the brown guy (1235418) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207392)

I'm not sure what's used in these indicator strips but it's not litmus paper. FYI, the pH of water is 7, so it would have nothing to do with the color changing.

I successfully returned my water damaged phone to Bell by removing the water indicator sticker and replacing it with one I made myself using paper. It would have been very easy to detect but I got lucky I guess.

Actually, that IS out of spec... (1)

apraetor (248989) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207358)

Apple's specs DO allow those temperatures ranges. However, they clearly state that the humidity must be non-condensing. Since the phone is being abruptly moved from extremely cold to warm locations, and the resultant condensing humidity is the cause, it seems pretty obvious that the damage is occurring from mis-use, not from use in spec-approved conditions.

Re:Actually, that IS out of spec... (2, Interesting)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207434)

There was no damage involved, simply a triggering of a LCI. The problem isn't that the devices can be damaged by condensation, it's that the LCI's are more sensitive than the device itself to condensation!

Why is this surprising? (1, Insightful)

Sitnalta (1051230) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207370)

So where's the story? Water is water. It doesn't matter if it's condensation or spilled coffee, the result is damage to the electronics that is no fault of Apple's. They can't protect their devices against every retard who doesn't have enough common sense to not expose their iPhones to environmental extremes.

Also, the tech specs only say that the iPhone will WORK at -20 C, it makes no mention of suddenly exposing it to warm, moist air.

Re:Why is this surprising? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207442)

... and do they make any claims against it either? I don't have one laying about to check, but another poster said it states the humidity must be non-condensing.

Just another way for them to scam people... (4, Insightful)

Entropius (188861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207418)

The question is whether the LCI's can be triggered by exposure to condensation, moisture, etc., which won't actually harm the device. Clearly those LCI's are more sensitive than the device they're attached to to water damage. If the manufacturer refuses to honor a warranty because of a LCI positive reading, but the damage to the device wasn't in fact caused by water, then you ought to be able to sue them for breach of contract.

I had a cell phone battery fail (because of a defect), but the manufacturer wouldn't replace it because the LCI was tripped on the phone. The failure mode wasn't one that would have been caused by water damage.

Re:Just another way for them to scam people... (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207636)

Why? If they have done their work right, triggering the LCI voids the warranty, regardless of the condition of the device (because the device has been exposed to conditions that are not covered in the warranty).

That it continues to work after the triggering is simply a bonus, and that it fails for some other reason is simply unfortunate.

If those things bother you, factor them into the purchasing decision.

What about hairspray? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207422)

While this might be viewed as morally reprehensible, but so is
voiding the warranty for a little bit of condensation.
If you put a little bit of hairspray on the sensor, would it trigger it?
And if it doesn't, then would it protect the sensor from condensation?

The Question is... (1)

bashibazouk (582054) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207428)

Is this unique to the iphone or will some/most/all cell phones have their LCI tripped if treated in this way?

yea, hardly reliable (3, Interesting)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207432)

So, Apple's LCI can trip unexpectedly...

A few years back, I dropped my Motorola RAZR V3 into a hot tub. It was submerged about 3-5 seconds before I got it back out.

The phone was dead, as expected - but the LCI did not "go off."

Re:yea, hardly reliable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207596)

Must've been a bubble covering the sensor.

I've got to say I don't understand this. Only the impurities in the water conduct electricity and cause damage.
Pure or distilled water can't hurt an electric device any more than air could.

If I dropped my PDA in the tub or left it in the rain, the first thing I'd do is open it and pull the battery. The I'd rinse everything with alcohol to speed evaporation and reduce corrosion. After it dried for a couple hours, I'd test the battery and put it back together. I bet the number one problem with submerging in liquid is damaging the battery, not frying the main circuits.

The only other thing I can think of is corrosion might damage exposed metal. But, unless it's left wet for a couple hours that shouldn't happen.

I guarantee the sensor works 100% (2, Insightful)

jeko (179919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207458)

The purpose of the sensor is not to detect water. The purpose of the sensor is to give Apple and the insurance company a technical strawman to point to as to why you're not gonna get the warranty replacement you've morally and legally got coming.

"We're not honoring the warranty because the machine says you've been bad," sounds sbetter than "We don't wanna honor your warranty 'cause that would cost us money to live up to our obligations."

It's the same function polygraphs, e-meters and other "lie detectors" serve. They're technically nonsense, but they give the organization an excuse you can't refute since it's nonsense in the first place.

Come on now, (1)

Stan92057 (737634) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207466)

Come on now, ya have to know apples stuff is condensation proof :) Thats just not possible,and if condensation is thinking on doing it Steve Jobs will scream at to not too heheheh

Submersion sensor too small. (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207470)

This just means they need more separation between the electrodes of their submersion sensor. Which is a problem in a small device.

To sense water reliably, while ignoring condensation, you need contacts some distance apart and some distance from a surface. The distances needs to be bigger than a water droplet. The size of water droplets is limited by surface tension. About 0.3 inch is probably big enough. In a tiny device, getting an air space that big is tough.

Re:Submersion sensor too small. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207560)

> This just means they need more separation between the electrodes of their submersion sensor. Which is a problem in a small device.

The sensor is a chemical one. It's a patch of off-white printing that turns red when wetted.

> To sense water reliably, while ignoring condensation

Why? Condensation IS water. Water affects electronicsin the real world. Water is generally bad for electronics in the real world. Very very tiny electronics (like you referred to indirectly above) are affected even more. The touchscreen insides, the speakers, any electrical contacts, the miniscule contacts in the dock connector, all of it can be affected by water.

Re:Submersion sensor too small. (1)

cdrguru (88047) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207632)

There are no electrical connections on a liquid sensor - it is just a pad that changes color when it is exposed to water - or even high humidity. The purposes of this is to detect that a phone has been exposed to water, which will really screw it up. Thus, phones that have color-changed liquid sensors are not eligible for warranty replacement.

Re:Submersion sensor too small. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207670)

These sensors aren't electrical, they're chemical. They look like little circles of white paper, but permanently stain red (or other patterns - I've seen blue stripes) when they are exposed to liquid water. And, if my experience is anything to go by, they aren't very reliable. My cell has one behind the battery pack; the thing has never been submerged, exposed to rain, etc, and I look at it one day, and see that it's tripped. Good thing I'm already out of warranty.

Sounds like they worked according to spec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207486)

"In the tech specs for the iPhone, Apple rates the non-operating temperature range as -20 to 45 C"

And in the very next line of the specs it says "Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing", while the article summary clearly states the testers caused condensation to trip the sensors.

You can debate the appropriateness of the spec, but you ought to at least read it before claiming parts don't operate according to spec.

Exclamation Points!!! (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207522)

In other words, even moving in and out during regular winter time will make you iPhone LCI turn red!

Yes, Apple is doing something that lots of companies do! But you'll never hear reports about those other companies doing it, because they aren't Apple!!

Re:Exclamation Points!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207634)

or rather
Yes, Apple is doing something that lots of companies do! But the public will find a way to think this is ok because it's Apple
Apple's cult following allows it to screw over their customers again and again without anyone thinking twice

Re:Exclamation Points!!! (1, Troll)

dangitman (862676) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207668)

Yes, Apple is doing something that lots of companies do! But the public will find a way to think this is ok because it's Apple

But there is no protest when other companies do it, so what's the difference? Seems like there are more people trying to come up with reasons why it is not OK because it is Apple.

Apple's cult following allows it to screw over their customers again and again without anyone thinking twice

And yet other companies also screw over customers, and you rarely see articles about it.

Come on, people! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207570)

What has become of my beloved Slashdot?! Where are the knowledgeable nerds?

Here we are 50 posts in. We've had bitching about Apple's sneakiness. We've had bitching about foggy glasses. We've had bitching about condensation in general.

What we haven't had is someone who knows how to AVOID condensation. How do you take a piece of kit from cold outside to warm inside without having moisture appear on it? Is it even possible?

Re:Come on, people! (1)

istartedi (132515) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207652)

It seems like you could put it in an airtight plastic bag when going from cold to warm. When the bag is dry, it's safe to remove.

Of course, there's the problem of air in the bag. You need to make sure the bag is in close contact with the device or else carry dessicant around with you. Of course, this is an Apple device. Somebody ought to make a stylish little box that encloses it perfectly.

There are already shrink-on plastic shields to protect the screens and various other enhancements that surround your iPhone to protect it; so you need to make sure the condensation protector doesn't conflict with that.

I haven't looked up close at an iPhone (I don't have one myself) but I assume the device can't be airtight for some reason (speaker? cracks around a micro USB socket?). If it could be made air-tight, at least temporarily, then the problem is also solved.

Now get to work Apple-cozy guys.

Technicalities of specs, vs reality (1)

hidden (135234) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207590)

1)Apple sells this phone in northerly climates (Canada for one)

2)Apple specs that it can be (when turned off) in environments down to -20 Celsius

3)I don't think anyone will argue with me that the nominal purpose of a cell phone, is as a communication device that a person CAN CARRY AROUND WITH THEM.

Combining these 3 facts, I think a reasonable person would conclude that they can take the phone in and out of the house with them when it is warmer than -20 C outside.

Thus, It seems reasonable that the warranty should still apply when this "reasonable person" has taken the phone in and out of the house at, oh, say -15 C

However, this test shows that doing so can trigger the humidity sensor, thereby voiding the warranty. Even though the person has not done anything unreasonable.

The think that I think some of you (who live in warmer climates?) are missing is this: the environment changes used in this test simulate normal daily use for those of us who live in colder climates.

Also, I doubt this issue is limited to iPhones: I had at least one motorola phone's warranty voided by the water sensor, even though I was unaware of having ever gotten the phone wet. This article could finally explain that issue as well...

So, it's just as they specify. (1)

Cosgrach (1737088) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207602)

It clearly stated that the non-operating temperature range is -20 to 45 C, so you would expect that if the iphone is subjected to this temperature range, is *will* become 'non-operating'.

Whiney bitches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31207604)

Get an ipad and shut up.

Uninformed at best (1, Insightful)

linuxhansl (764171) | more than 4 years ago | (#31207662)

This is nonsense. Warm air carries more moisture than cold air. When taking a cold device into a warm room, the air will enter the device, cool down and water will start to condensate inside the device. Water from condensation is just as bad as water from a spill.

The liquid sensor is right to go off, as it should since many electronic gadgets/laptops were destroyed this way.

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