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ATPM 17.05
May 2011


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The iPad Chronicles

by Robert Paul Leitao,

Two iPhones and a Rice Bowl

This is a tale of two iPhones and one big bowl of uncooked rice.

In mid-January, my sister called because she had lost her iPhone 3GS. The iPhone was off, so she couldn’t call it or send a “Find My iPhone” signal. She suspected it had fallen from her pocket while shoveling out from one of the winter’s biggest storms. As a precaution, she had the iPhone deactivated and considered it a loss. She reckoned that if it were lost under a couple of feet of snow, there was no way it would be found weeks later in working order when the snow eventually melted away. The next day, she purchased an iPhone 4 as a replacement. The Apple Store staffer suggested that if the iPhone 3GS was found as the snow melted to immediately place it in a big bowl of uncooked rice to draw out the moisture.

A little over a month later—and following snow accumulations of an additional four feet, subfreezing temperatures, and a few sub-zero overnights—there was one sunny 60-degree February day. The rapidly melting snow left a shimmering black iPhone in its wake. To her astonishment, the phone started up with all of her apps and data available. Because the phone had been deactivated, the only thing she couldn’t do was make a call.

Two months hence and on the other side of the continent, my daughter accidentally dropped her iPhone 3G into a small man-made bowl of water commonly found in restroom stalls. (That’s as descriptive as I want to get in this story.) This was an obvious cause of upset. When I saw the phone after she brought it home, it was undeniable that water had penetrated the device. You could see the water move when the touch screen was pressed. Recalling the conversation I had with my sister back in January, I immediately filled a mixing bowl with uncooked white rice from the pantry and gently pushed the iPhone into the middle of the bowl with the touch screen facing down.

Eager to see if the rice advice would work, the following day I pulled the phone from the mixing bowl. The iPhone was dry to the touch but unresponsive to attempts to start up the device. Only slightly discouraged, I put the iPhone back in the bowl and waited for a second day. The next day I pulled the phone from the mixing bowl, and while the phone wasn’t immediately responsive, there was no hint of moisture in or around the device. I plugged the iPhone in to charge it and, sure enough, the Apple logo appeared. A few minutes later, the phone began to beep, and a stream of previously unreceived text messages appeared on the screen. Although the iPhone was now encased in a thin film of dry rice residue and the battery was taking a much-needed charge, it was apparently no worse for wear. Yesterday, day three, my daughter took her iPhone to school, and it worked as if the mishap had never happened.

Two iPhones and one big bowl of uncooked rice have proven that the iPhone is made to be a resilient device.

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