The best way to dry a waterlogged smartphone? Evaporate it in a vacuum chamber

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Using a specially designed vacuum chamber, Redux lowers the boiling point of water allowing water to be extracted from phones at room temperature.

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Getting a smartphone wet is basically inevitable—it might not happen to every phone, it might not be complete submersion—but at some point, your smartphone is going to come into contact with moisture. With smaller and more delicate components, the potential that moisture can break your phone is higher each year—we’re a long way away from the indestructible Nokia 3310.

Redux has a solution to that: Place your phone in their specialized vacuum chamber. The boiling point of water will be reduced to 70°F, allowing the water molecules to vaporize and escape through seams in the phone. Even phones with high ingress protection (IP) ratings can be treated with the Redux equipment, as the water vapor will inevitably escape through some seam on the device.

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Because of the way the technology works, the components of the phone are not affected by the recovery process. According to Redux co-founder Reuben Sielinski, as the Redux dryers operate below the operating temperature of a given device, the drying process would not damage the phone. For this reason, Redux is touted as a phone recovery service, not a data recovery service—this is not like emergency data retrieval from a failing hard drive, this is not a question of “buying time” to recover data before an eventual failure. The full use and lifespan of the phone are expected to be restored in the event a phone is successfully dried.

Additionally, using Redux dryers would not adversely affect ruggedized phones with rubberized plastic coatings or components that have a tendency to become sticky or gummy with age.

Over 20,000 devices have been successfully recovered using the Redux dryers so far, with Redux dryers available in third-party Verizon Wireless retail outlets like Wireless Zone. Redux claims an 83.9% success rate for phones that were not plugged in after they became wet. These stores offer a two-year membership that allows for two free drying attempts per year, with an upfront cost of $29.99.

Redux is exploring partnership options for enterprises and IT fulfillment services that manage mobile device deployment, to provide dryers on premises to cover all of the devices deployed in an organization.

The company is expanding the size of devices that the technology can be applied to. The Redux GenX is intended just for smartphones, while the Redux GenXL—as the name implies—is capable of drying tablets and notebook PCs up to a 13″ Macbook. Software controls on the dryers are capable of determining how much water is evaporated from a given device, with accuracy measured in microliters.

Future updates to software controls will be able to determine if a phone is wet within the first few minutes of starting the drying process. Likewise, the technology has also been tested with hearing aids—which are typically several times the cost of a typical smartphone—and have seen success in restoring hearing aids rendered inoperable due to exposure to moisture.

For more, check out the secret to saving a wet phone or tablet at CNET, 10 easy ways to ruin your smartphone, or how tech companies are helping victims save their smartphones after Hurricane Harvey.

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