Quite a buzz has appeared recently about Apple's updated water damage policies. These policies actually came to light several months ago due to some clever sleuthing on the part of Boy Genius Report, which we posted on at the time. The same policies may even have gone into effect in Europe several months earlier than that.
iPhone and iPod immersion sensors have long been notoriously unreliable. Despite insider claims that the indicators will not change color unless a device has been submerged for 90 seconds, consumers have encountered triggered sensors due to ambient moisture, sweaty palms, temperature extremes and (our favorite) using your iOS device as an ocarina.
The revised policies added a visual inspection for physical signs of water damage to the existing sensor color change, likely because of class action lawsuits that state, in part, that "As a result of Apple's improper application of the Liquid-Damage Exclusion, Apple sells [devices] with the intent to exclude them from the warranty coverage Apple promises consumers it will provide -- even when consumers pay extra for Extended Warranty coverage -- simply because their Liquid Submersion Indicator has been triggered, without any attempt by Apple to verify whether the Class Devices actually have been damaged as a result of submersion or immersion in liquid." The policy revision may also have come about because Apple has begun to mistrust the reliability of the sensors.
So while this isn't exactly news (despite recent wide coverage), it's a good thing for consumers to know about. If a technician suggests your unit suffers from water damage, and you know that it has not been submerged, caught in the rain, sent through the wash or similar, make sure you insist on that secondary inspection. Have them check the internal device indicators as well as the external ones, for units where that makes sense.
There's a big difference between a drop of sweat and a dunk in the swimming pool. It's good to see that Apple now recognizes that difference.