HELP! I Broke My Android Phone


What should I do? I washed my phone!

First off, don’t panic, these things happen. Polls show that dropping a phone in the toilet is one of the most common service calls. I successfully avoided the toilet, but could not avoid the washing machine. (The process I describe can also be used for a lost, stolen or damaged phone. It can even be used if you buy a new phone.)

The water needs to be dealt with, now. If you can, remove the battery as soon as possible. Do not “test” it by trying to turn it on. Wipe it off with a dry cloth. I also used a can of compressed air to get the water out. You can also use an air compressor or a vacuum cleaner but never use a blow dryer. The heat will destroy a phone.

Next I put the phone, battery and back cover in a dish covered with rice. The rice will draw moisture out of the phone. I left it in the rice for about 16 hours.

After I did all this, I reinstalled the battery, snapped the cover back on and powered up. It briefly came on after a couple of tries but then died.

Well, when life gives you lemons.... write a HOW-TO about it.

My next step is to go to a Verizon store and confess. I have insurance which is very expensive and maybe not worth it. I’ve felt that I would pay for the phone in premium charges. But I signed up for it anyway because I was afraid I would wash my phone in the washing machine.

When you purchase “Total Equipment Coverage” at Verizon you are really purchasing insurance from a company called Asurion. They charge $7 per month for loss, damage, theft and extended warranty. $5.20 per month excludes extended warranty.

I’ve had a smartphone for 2 and a half years, that means I’ve paid $210 in premiums. My phone is $600 to replace and the deductible is $100 so the insurance saved me $290. Hopefully you are more responsible than I am.

I didn’t need to go to the Verizon Store after all. Go to the Asurion web site or call them at 1-888-881-2622 for a lost, stolen or damaged device. Call them at 1-866-406-5154 or go to a Verizon store for extended warranty claims.

One of the first questions they asked me is if this was the results of water damage. Apparently they know me or maybe it happens a lot.  They approved my claim and are overnighting a new phone.

Asurion warned that I might have to sign for the delivery so I patiently waited for the delivery. Have you every noticed that the UPS guy is so fast that he leaves the package, rings the bell and disappears from the block before you can get to the door? I left a note on the door saying, “I’m here.... keep ringing the bell!” Asurion warned that they would attempt two deliveries and then charge $35. My delivery did not require the signature after all! Maybe they really don’t know me.

The package came with a new phone (apparently not reconditioned), a 4G SIM card, and instructions. I have a 4G LTE device so the instructions say:
  • SAVE
    • They say use the Verizon wireless backup assistant on my old phone to save my contacts. My old phone doesn’t work and I save my contacts at Google so I’ll skip this step.
  • ACTIVATE
    • Using your existing 4G SIM card from the original phone OR
    • If you received a new SIM.
      • Its hard to see the diagram where you put the SIM in the phone. Mine was gold contacts down and notch on the inside left. It’s a little springy loader slot when installed properly.
      • I received a new SIM so I called 1-877-807-4646 from my landline and follow the prompts. They connected me to a live technician which seemed to surprise us both. I’m glad it did, because my first activation failed and she had to resend it. We had a pleasant and helpful conversation and my next activation worked.
      • The next step is to run through the setup and log into my Google Account.
        • I have three accounts all set up with Google’s 2-factor authentication. I will set up most of the phone with my primary Google for my Domain account. I’ll put off setting up the other accounts for later.
        • I log in with my password and it says I must log in with a browser.
        • It asks for my 2 factor authentication code but I will select “I don’t have my phone”.
        • It set a verification code to my home phone (I set this up previously) which allowed me to log on.
        • The next questions is do I want to restore my phone from Google
          • I say YES
        • Connect to your WIFI if you can. The next step downloads lots of data and WIFI is quicker and doesn’t count against minutes or bandwidth.
        • Google is busy downloading my configurations for the phone so I will let it sit for a while. This is a good time to charge the battery.
        • This is taking some time so I made some coffee and relaxed for a bit. Don’t interrupt it or change a bunch of stuff. Let Google do the restore.
        • Every once in a while as the apps load I get an error. I just manually install the app.
        • This has taken two hours now so I will prepare my old phone to RETURN.
  • RETURN
    • It is very important to return the old phone within 10 days. They will charge $350 if It is not returned.
    • They don’t want your battery, charger or any accessories.
    • It’s important to remove your old SIM card. They don’t want it and it might contain personal data. I put it away in case any questions arise.
    • Self address the envelope they included. If it gets lost in the mail it may show up.
    • Take it to the post office or put it in a locked postal box. Don’t leave it unattended in your residential post box for the postal worker. You are responsible for it and will get charged if it is stolen.
  • RECONFIGURATION
    • Once the Google restore is done I noticed that my finely organized work spaces are all messed up, but there are some very important steps to work on first.
    • First make sure there are no updates for your phone. Look in Settings.
    • The second thing is to fix up 2 factor authentication on your primary Google account.
      • Log on to gmail with your primary account on a PC or other device.
      • Go to mail settings
      • Go to Accounts->Google Account Settings
      • You don’t have Authenticator set up so it will call the home phone again.
      • The Mobile Application in your account settings should be set to Android
        • Remove/Replace
        • Pick android to set up the Google Authenticator App.
        • It asks for a code from your app and attaches your primary account and the Authenticator App.
        • PRINT YOUR BACKUP CODES! PUT THEM IN A SAFE PLACE! You will need them in the future.
        • Use your phones gmail app and put in the code.
        • Try other Apps
          • Apps that work
            • Google Maps
            • Google+
            • Google Music
            • Google Books
            • Google Video
            • Android Market
              • Set it to automatically update apps in its settings
              • Go to “My Apps” and update anything that needs it.
            • Google Talk
            • Contacts are working for the primary account.
            • Cloud Print
              • reset your default printer
            • Google Reader
            • Astrid Tasks
            • Picassa Tool
            • Google Bookmarks Widget
            • Google Docs
            • Google Voice
              • If you want to use Google Voicemail rather than Verizon you must configure it.
              • Mine was already set up and I didn’t need to do anything.
              • Test that your phone rings and your voicemail works.
          • Apps that need a Authenticator Pin
            • ColorNote
          • Apps that need an Application Specific Code
        • Some important apps to remember
          • Set Your Alarm Clock!
          • log into Amazon.com shopping and Amazon Kindle and Nook. Anything you were reading is archived but not lost.
          • Your Verizon Account App needs a signal other than WIFI.
          • Make sure your banking apps work.
          • Make sure your pharmacy accounts work.
          • Make sure social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and G+ work.
        • Other Google Accounts with 2 factor authentication
          • Go to gmail for each account on your PC.
          • Go to Mail Settings->Accounts->Google Account Settings
          • Remove your old Android Device and set up the new one.
          • Make sure you have a good phone number set up in case you lose your phone.
          • Print your Backup Codes! Keep them in a safe place.
            • Suppose you have your smartphone set up for 2 factor authentication.
            • You configure your home phone as a backup.
            • You keep your backup codes at home.
            • There is a fire and you lose your smartphone, home phone and your only copy of the codes?
            • THE LESSON--- Keep a copy of the codes somewhere else!
          • Add the account to gmail and your other apps on the phone.
          • Set up your next account.
        • Open Issues
          • The Youtube app reports that my account is not linked but it obviously is.
        • Other important configurations
          • Go to settings->accounts and sync and make sure your accounts are syncing.
          • Go to settings->security->screen lock
            • set up a PIN or Password
            • Fill out some user info in case you lose your phone. Make sure it shows up on your lock screen.
            • Never root your phone or Allow apps from unknown sources.
          • Full Device Encryption
            • Fully charge device
            • Keep it plugged into the charger.
            • Go to settings->security->Encrypt Phone
            • DO NOT INTERRUPT THIS PROCESS!
              • You will have to reread and redo this entire HOW-TO if you interrupt the process. I’m about as entertaining as I am responsible.
            • It takes some time... Maybe a walk?
        • After everything is done power off the phone and reboot.
  • OTHER DEVICES (Google 2 factor authentication has change!)
    • My main PC that I’ve been doing some of this work on.
      • At this point you should reboot your computer.
      • Make sure you can go to gmail and docs for each account
      • Make sure Chrome is syncing.
    • My Xoom
      • Power it up and unlock the device encryption. (You do use device encryption, don’t you?)
      • Enter your PIN or PASSWORD (You do that, don’t you?)
      • You will have authentication errors for each of your accounts.
      • Hit the notifications and log into your accounts one by one.
      • Make sure gmail works
      • Make sure your bookmarks are syncing with desktop Chrome.
      • Make sure docs and other Google apps work.
      • Shut down the device and reboot.
      • Everything should work without errors.
    • My Work PC
      • Log on to each gmail account.
      • You will need to enter a code from the Google Authenticator App on your phone. Check the box to remember this computer.
      • Make sure all your Chrome plugins work.
      • I had to use an “Application Specific Password” to sync Chrome.
        • Go to the code generator page
        • Come up with a descriptive name like Work PC Chrome
        • Generate the Code
        • Plug it into the Chrome Sync log in box when asked. You can cut and paste.
      • Reboot the computer and make sure everything is working.
    • My Work Linux
      • Log on to each gmail account.
      • You will need to enter a code from the Google Authenticator App on your phone. Check the box to remember this computer.
      • Make sure all your Chrome plugins work.
      • I had to use an “Application Specific Password” to sync Chrome.
        • Go to the code generator page
        • Come up with a descriptive name like Ubuntu Chrome
        • Generate the Code
        • Plug it into the Chrome Sync log in box when asked. You can cut and paste.
      • Reboot the computer and make sure everything is working.
  • LESSONS LEARNED
    • I will never ever do laundry again!
    • This took about three days including the time to dry out the old phone and wait for the overnight delivery of the new phone.
    • It took about 12 hours to get the most important things working again.
    • Relax--- panic and rushing around won’t do anything but make errors.
    • Do it one step at a time.