In this digitally-driven era, our smartphones hold significant amounts of critical data ranging from contacts and messages to precious memories in the form of photos and high definition videos. For most people, the loss of this data can be devastating. This case study focuses on a recent successful iPhone water damage data recovery we performed on an iPhone 13 Pro that suffered extensive sea water damage.  We explore some of the challenges posed by salt water corrosion and the subsequent efforts taken by our master board technicians to salvage the invaluable data.


During a fishing excursion while on holiday in Bali, our client’s device was submerged in sea water. Unfortunately, the device had stopped backing up to iCloud some time before this accident occurred. The client took the device to a local repair shop in Bali who were unable to assist him. Upon his return to Australia, the client left the device for an extended period of time before taking it to the Apple Store who were willing to honor his AppleCare+ plan, but could not assist him with iPhone water damage data recovery.


Sea water is particularly detrimental to electronic devices. The salt content can cause accelerated corrosion of components and short-circuits due to its conductivity. Our client was extremely anxious about the potential loss of his data, including a plethora of family photos, videos, contacts, and messages which were unfortunately not backed up for some time. The iPhone did not power on, and his own attempts to get the device working through third-party assistance were unsuccessful. Understanding the gravity of the situation, our client engaged our services and mailed-in his device from Tasmania.

iPhone A15 system on chip

Initial Findings

Upon device arrival, our initial physical condition assessment of the device externals were promising. Aside from activation of the water exposure indication sticker inside the sim card tray, the device presented in pristine condition. However, upon opening the device, we quickly discovered significant salt water corrosion running through the entire device internals. To remove the logic board from the device housing, we needed to grind out numerous locking screws using our microscope and precision grinding tools.

iPhone water damage salt water corrosion

After removing the logic board, we then placed it under our microscope for deeper inspection and found significant corrosion of the upper board. Following further measurements and testing, we separated the board layers and focused our efforts on the upper board containing NAND and CPU.

Water damaged iPhone board separation

Deeper Inspection and Diagnostics

Numerous components on the upper board were corroded beyond repair. After removing several components, including the PAUHBL_E ultra-high band amplifier chip, we injected voltage and discovered a short on the VDD MAIN power line. After clearing the short, the device would boot but we could not get any image to display on the screen. We then pulled the display PMIC and found it destroyed from corrosion. After transplanting the PMIC chip from another donor board, we got image back and used our specialised extraction tool to recover the entire contents of the phone.

iPhone PMIC display chip

iPhone water damage data recovery


This case exemplifies the grave risks that sea water poses to electronic devices and the monumental importance of reliable data recovery services. Through our specialised expertise, we were able to recover more than 250gb of invaluable and sentimentally irreplaceable data from this iPhone. This case study highlights the importance of seeking professional help in water damaged iPhone data recovery endeavors and also serves as a reminder of the imperative need for regular data backups.

Because this situation resulted in complete logic board failure, it is not user repairable and requires an iPhone board specialist to perform open-ended resuscitation of the iPhone logic board. Seki Gadgets offers this specialist service to both retail and business customers through local walk-in appointments and nationwide mail-in service. Contact Us today to learn more about our iPhone Data Recovery and iPhone Logic Board Repair services.