More than 2,000 Verizon resell outlets offer a service to dry out wet phones

It usually takes the Redux drying technology about 30-40 minutes to dry out a wet phone. (Getty Images)

About 2,170 Verizon reseller stores are using a special device from Redux to help customers dry out phones that have gotten wet and to recover their data.

Verizon Wireless owns direct retail stores, but the carrier also works with authorized reseller stores, and Redux is working with some of these authorized resellers to offer this drying service to customers. Redux has deals with Wireless Zone, Victra and The Cellular Connection. Participating stores charge $29.99 for a two-year membership, which entitles customers to two free drying attempts per year.

Redux President and co-founder Reuben Zielinski said the company has sold about 1.95 million subscriptions. The company claimed that in lab tests where a device was not plugged in after it got wet, the success rate is 83.9%, and the device should maintain its existing life expectancy.

Aside from being less expensive than having to replace a device, Redux’s drying service can also recover information such as photos, messages and contact lists.

Redux’s technology is basically an advanced evaporator, said Zielinski. The Redux chamber is about the size of a 1970s video cassette recorder. The wet phone is placed in the Redux chamber and then subjected to a strong vacuum. This lowers the boiling point of water from 212 degrees Fahrenheit to 70 degrees Fahrenheit. In this way, the liquid inside the cell phone turns into gas at a temperature that won’t damage the phone. And then that gas can seep through the cracks and crevices of the phone’s plastic case.

Most people are familiar with the advice to put a wet phone in a bowl of rice. Zielinski said, “Rice is OK, but you don’t know when all the water’s out of it. Will it take two minutes or two weeks?” He said it’s especially difficult to get water out of the water-resistant phones. The Redux drying process usually takes about 30-40 minutes.

The Verizon resellers lease the basic Redux device for $49 per month. “If they sell two or three memberships, it pays for the dryer,” said Zielinski. The company also leases a larger dryer for $99 per month, which is suitable for tablets and some laptops.

The company is currently involved in trials with several other carriers, Zielinski said.