• Aaron Harrington

iPhone 11 Pro won't turn on after Water Damage

A motherboard fault trend is starting to emerge with the iPhone 11 Pro when it is exposed to water damage, as this one was when it was dropped in a bath tub. It appears that when the iPhone 11 Pro is damaged by water it is typical for an image power line filter to become non functional. In many cases, when an iPhone is exposed to water it can kill the screen. However, in most other models, if only the screen is damaged, only the screen needs to be replaced.


In the iPhone 11 Pro, when the screen dies from water damage, the screen also carries that damage to the motherboard. It manifests itself in the form of an iPhone that powers on but image does not appear.


How can we tell that it is just image that is non-functional, and the phone is not completely dead?


We observe the power draw from both the usb ammeter as well as the the DC power supply draw. When this phone is plugged into a usb ammeter, we see that it pulls a normal 1 amp. This means it has a normal ability to charge. When we connect our DC power supply to the battery connector, we see a steady rise from 0 up to 1 amp. Both of these signs indicate that the phone is booting up, we just cannot see anything on the screen.


While this is a strong sign that there is an image problem, we still need more confirmation.


iPhone 11 Pro Data Recovery Diagnosis

iPhone 11 Pro data recovery analysis
The OLED Connector and diode mode values

We use ZXW boardview software in order to view the proper diode mode values of the OLED connector. The highlighted line is the PP3V0_DISPLAY voltage line. This means that 3v should be coming into the screen from this line to power the display. While measuring for the correct values using a multimeter, it is observed that this line shows OL instead of the proper 0.261 as indicated by the boardview software. OL indicates an "open loop" meaning that the circuit is no longer complete. In most cases, this means that the filter blew.


This is the proof we were looking for. Without that 3v powering the screen, the screen will not turn on.


iPhone 11 Pro OLED Connector giving No Image

If you view the first picture carefully, you can just make out a small solder ball above the connector and below the line of covered components. This is another sign that the filter blew. The overfill is scratched to reveal the filter and the filter is probed on both sides to check for continuity across it. It does not have continuity, confirming that the filter is the problem. The easiest way to reconnect the line is to simply apply a blob of solder on the filter, reconnecting the broken line. While this method is quick and easy for data recovery, it is not recommended for a lasting repair. This is because if this same damage were to occur a second time, there would be no filter to protect the rest of the line from the incoming damage. The power originates from the PMIC so if there was no filter, the damage would go straight to the PMIC which is a much more risky and difficult repair to complete.


Data Recovery Successful

iPhone data recovery success

For the sake of data recovery, this is all that is needed. Once the circuit is complete again, we can see that the phone boots up with all data available to extract. It is essential to use the proper tools and interpret the signals given to us in order to make a good diagnosis and give us any hope of a successful data recovery.


We use 3uTools to take a backup of this phone which is used to restore all data to a new iPhone and then we use Jihosoft to parse the data into a form that can be easily viewed from a computer. We find that Jihosoft is best used as a data organizer, not as a stand alone data recovery software. They make claims at being able to recover deleted data from phones that still power on, but we have found minimal success on that end. If you want to recover data from your iPhone that no longer turns on, fill out the intake form at our iPhone Data Recovery page. iBoard Repair has the highest success rate in the industry at retrieving data from a dead iPhone.

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