Liquid Condensation on Your Smartphone? Why it Happens and How to Prevent it

Liquid Condensation on Your Smartphone? Why it Happens and How to Prevent it

Liquid condensation, a phenomenon where droplets form around a glass filled with a cold drink, or on windows during a cold or humid day, is a common sight in daily life. Did you know, however, that smartphones are also prone to condensation? Read on to learn more about why condensation may occur in smartphones and how to prevent it.

Conditions that cause condensation

Condensation is more likely to occur in smartphones when using or charging them in environments with high levels of humidity or when there are sudden changes in temperature. For example:

  • When moving from a cold place to a hot place (such as bringing a smartphone into an air-conditioned environment on a hot day)
  • When using a smartphone for car navigation when it’s mounted above an air conditioning vent so it gets exposed to cool or hot air
  • When a smartphone is used in highly humid environments

In Japan, condensation in smartphones became a hot topic when a cold wave hit the country. During Japan’s rainy season, which typically lasts from the beginning of June to the middle of July, special care is also required due to high levels of humidity, meaning slight temperature changes can easily cause condensation.

What happens when there’s condensation in a smartphone?

Here are a few examples of what happens when condensation takes place with a smartphone.

  • Droplets form on the surface of the smartphone
  • The camera lens fogs up
  • The display gets clouded
  • Audio coming out of the speaker sound like it’s skipping
  • Error messages appear and data is lost

If water vapor enters the smartphone, it may not be noticeable as the condensation is not actually visible. It can potentially result in the following.

Blurred photos and videos

Condensation on the lens can cause the camera to fog up, resulting in cloudy-looking photos and videos.

Sound skipping

If moisture gets into the speaker, the sound may skip and become distorted.

Data loss

If water enters a smartphone through condensation, it may cause the device to malfunction and cause data loss.

Fire risk

When water enters a charging port, it can cause a short circuit, and in a worst case scenario, a fire. In addition to damaging a smartphone, a fire can cause bodily injuries or a house fire if left at home.

Even water-resistant and waterproof smartphones are not completely resistant to condensation. Also, even if a device works normally after water has entered through condensation, if any malfunction occurs it will need to be repaired.

How to prevent smartphone condensation

What measures can be taken to prevent smartphone condensation?

  • Refrain from charging or operating smartphones in situations where sudden temperature changes are likely (Example: near a window with cold air)
  • Do not place your smartphone in a location where it is directly exposed to cold or hot air (Example: near an air conditioner or heater)
  • Refrain from using in highly humid places (Example: by a bathtub or in the rain)

There are some suggestions that can be found on the Internet that are not recommended, such as cooling a hot smartphone with an ice pack, putting it in a refrigerator, or warming a cold smartphone by aiming a hairdryer at it.

If you notice signs of smartphone condensation, instead of trying to fix it, for Japan residents it might be a good idea to check with a ‘SoftBank’ or ‘Y!mobile’ store, or a smartphone repair shop. Considering the potential for data loss or breakage due to condensation, regular backups are also recommended.

Liquid Condensation on Your Smartphone? Why it Happens and How to Prevent it

(Posted on May 10, 2024, Original article posted on May 16, 2023)
by SoftBank News Editors