updated 07:30 pm EDT, Wed July 8, 2009
Humidity triggering LSIs?
A number of iPhone users located in Singapore have reported problems with warranty claim rejections through the local carrier, Singtel, according to forum posts on HardwareZone. Many of the iPhones are being turned away due to water damage, despite claims that the devices never encountered water. The issues involve triggered Liquid Submersion Indicators (LSIs) which are located inside the headphone port and near the dock connector on an iPod.
Although Apple places the LSIs on devices to protect itself against free replacements of iPhones that end up in swimming pools, the moisture-sensitive indicators allegedly turn red after exposure to other common conditions that may not be as destructive to the internal components.
Apple has carefully worded its water damage terms, claiming the LSIs are designed not to be triggered by humidity and temperature changes that are "within the product's environmental requirements." Tech specs for the iPhone indicate an acceptable range of relative humidity between 5-percent and 95-percent, although the conditions must be "noncondensing."
For residents of many tropical areas, the relative humidity can hover in the upper part of the iPhone's tolerance range for a large portion of the year, and easily reaches past 90-percent during or after a period of rain. Although the generally high humidity and outdoor temperatures may not trigger the LSI, leaving an air-conditioned building can potentially cause condensation on devices.
The Wednesday weather conditions for Charlotte Amalie on St. Thomas in the USVI lists a relative humidity of 79-percent, temperature at 82℉ and a dewpoint of 75℉. If an iPhone owner walks out of a store that was kept at 68℉, and the device was as cold as the building environment, condensation could briefly cause water droplets to appear on the device until its temperature increases. Users in cold climates could experience similar conditions if the phone reaches a low temperature outdoors before being brought into a much warmer building.
The true level of sensitivity for Apple's LSI tags remains unknown, although the humidity can easily reach 100-percent in Singapore during rainstorms. Many devices integrate LSIs underneath the battery cover or inside the housing. Apple, however, places the small stickers where they are exposed to the outside air and the immediate effects of quick changes between temperatures. Similar reports do not appear to be as common with the recent MacBooks, which include the LSIs only below the keyboard and within the housing.