There’s nothing like the sinking feeling of watching an expensive cell phone go to Davey Jones’ Locker.
I should know. On my first day as a reporter back in 2003, the first story I worked on for my new job at the Middletown Transcript was a feature about a fisherman who ran a local shad festival in the town of Port Penn, Delaware, along the river. My editor dropped me off at the dock, and since I didn’t have a cell phone of my own, she lent me hers so I could call the office for a ride back once I was done.
I waved goodbye to my new boss and walked briskly down the pier towards where the fisherman was waiting. No sooner had I gotten out over the water, I stumbled on a loose plank. The borrowed flip-phone flew out of my shirt pocket and landed directly in the river in about six feet of the murky Delaware. Fortunately Kristen Krenzer, who has a heart of gold, decided not to fire me on the spot.
Nowadays dropping a cell phone in a lake, or a toilet, or a cup of coffee, doesn’t have to be a death sentence for an expensive phone. TCC, a Verizon retailer that operates a store at the Mercer Mall at 3320 Route 1, Unit 150 in Lawrence Township, is offering a cell phone drying service that can revive even the most waterlogged electronics.
In a press release, the company said it first introduced the technology in certain stores in early 2015 and is rolling it out nationwide. TCC’s Redux service costs $50 for a basic phone and $90 for a smartphone in addition to a $10 diagnostic fee. If the drying out is unsuccessful, the store only keeps the $10 fee.
The Redux machine works by subjecting a phone to a vacuum, which lowers the boiling point of water, evaporating any moisture. The process takes a little less than an hour.
“Everyone thinks their phone is fried when it gets wet, and that just simply isn’t the case,” said Reuben Zielinski, co-founder of Redux. “This new technology will remove 100 percent of the moisture from wet electronics, allowing many mobile device users to recover their hardware investment and precious data.”
But does it work? According to the Chicago Tribune, which tested the service, it does. A reporter left a cell phone in a glass of water to die, then took it to a Redux machine for revival — in just over an hour, the phone was working normally again.
It’s not actually the moisture, but the combination of moisture and electricity that kills devices. TCC said that when a phone gets wet, customers should turn the device off, don’t plug it in, and remove the battery if possible.
Of course, there are home remedies available. Often, waterlogged electronics can be revived by unplugging and air-drying for a few days. There is also an urban legend that putting a phone in a container of uncooked rice will help dry it out, but tests have shown this is a little less effective than just air drying.
“Redux saves customers money by eliminating the cost to replace devices,” said Scott Moorehead, CEO of TCC. “The typical cost of purchasing a replacement device is nearly $300 on top of a deductible of $150 or more, if the customer has insurance. But what’s even more important to most customers is the ability to recover their data, and Redux enables them to save potentially irreplaceable information, such as contacts, photos, videos, and more.”
TCC said that in the future, it would expand its service beyond cell phones to mp3 players, tablets, cameras, hearing aids, and more. According to the company, Redux was inspired when co-founder Joel Trusty’s wife ran her cell phone through a full cycle of the washing machine. Trusty, with a background in manufacturing, and his neighbor, Zelinski, an ex-IBM employee, were able to fix the phone, and within a week created the first Redux machine.