Water Damage Indicators/Stickers on Cell Phones


Expert Member
Aug 8, 2008
I've read that most cellphones nowadays come with several "water damage indicators" inside the phone. These are usually white stickers that are placed inside the phone in several different places and on the battery. In the event that water comes into contact with these stickers, they turn from white to red/pink.

This is how the cellphone repair centers detect water damage, and determine whether the repair falls out of warrany or not.

Now I've also read that these stickers can be very unreliable, and can sometimes turn red due to sweaty palms, humid climates, using your phone in a light drizzle, or keeping the phone in a slightly damp pocket (due to rain, or from the tumble dryer, etc). Basically, they produce in a lot of false positives for water damage, when in fact the problem could be something else entirely. This means that repair centers can easily get away with repairing your phone under warranty by claiming that it is water damaged, and the warranty has been voided.

I've also read about people using bleach to turn the stickers from red/pink back to white before sending the phone in for repair, unethically in the event of real water damage, and ethically in the event of another problem.

A lot of people also have these stickers red/pink, with the phone working 100% fine with no problems, either suspected or reported.

Are there any techies that work at cellphone service/repair centers, or who repair cellphones for a living, that can provide some insight?

What are your thoughts or experiences about these stickers? Are they reliable indicators of water damage? How else can water damage be detected reliably?