By Bruce Mohl, Globe Staff | January 28, 2007
Consumers with relatively new cell phones -- in one case a phone right out of the box -- say sensors inside the devices appear to be incorrectly registering water damage, voiding the warranties.
The consumers all insist they haven't dropped their phones in water or left them out in the rain, yet the tiny liquid-damage indicators inside their phones have changed color, indicating damage.
Wireless companies and phone makers say water damage is a common problem with cellphones and faulty readings from the indicators are unlikely. The company representatives said the indicators provide a reliable and quick way to find out if a phone's inner workings have been exposed to water, which can disable the phone's battery, its displays, and its circuitry.
Independent phone retailers and repair people say a phone doesn't have to be dropped in a toilet or a sink to sustain water damage. They say liquid-damage indicators may also change color if exposed to sweat, steam , extreme humidity, or condensation resulting from an abrupt change in temperature.