BlackBerry follows coffee shower with rice bath

Warning, this post contains stuff which will almost certainly void your warranty if you repeat it.  If you like that kind of thing, read on!

This morning was a minor disaster. My BlackBerry Bold 9000 seemed damp to the touch as I threw it in my pocket, I thought nothing of it since I had just washed my hands. I did however get concerned ten minutes later when I tried using it.

The trackball was spewing liquid when spun, key presses resulted in random “hl” and “ou” garbage and the call buttons were ineffective.  The growing knot in my gut tightened as I caught the rich aroma of freshly brewed coffee, and I wasn’t walking past Starbucks.

How did my BlackBerry get bathed in coffee I wondered? A quick call to my wife resulted in a sheepish admission of guilt.  She explained how she had tried to conceal the crime by wiping down the exterior surface; little did she know that some phones are designed with an accessible underbelly.

I took off the back cover hoping that a battery pull would solve the problem and as I did so, what seemed like a stream of black liquid poured out.  Coffee can do wonderfully destructive things to computing equipment, especially when sugar is mixed in, so I feared the worst as I embarked upon a frantic drying effort.

A few tissues later (for the Bold, not me, I wasn’t an emotional wreck…yet) and I went for the battery pull. A couple of times. It was consistently booting properly into the home screen but the wacky “hl” and “ou” characters were still showing up, the Escape key, call buttons and trackball button were useless, and many of the letter keys were calling up unpredictable actions.

This was not the first life threatening event that my BlackBerry has faced.  Last year’s throwdown in a rowdy New Orleans bar was far worse in terms of sheer force, but the Bold’s  recovery was instant once I had reassembled it.

On this occasion things seemed more serious.  A quick call to AT&T led to some helpful diagnostics followed by a check of the moisture indicator.  “What color is it?” asked the AT&T rep.  “Kinda pinkish”, I replied as the indicator appeared to grow redder by the second before my horrified eyes.  The AT&T rep then proceeded to declare my warranty null and void but did offer to take me through the master reset procedure, which I politely declined since I had other plans.

Rice.  Of all the drying agents available to me its starchy thirst for moisture was the first thing that jumped into my mind.  I amassed a BlackBerry bath worth of rice and submerged the Bold, sans battery, which had its own bathing corner.  Three hours later I shook out the grains, reseated the battery and let the Bold reboot.  Naturally by this time I was visibly shaking from BlackBerry withdrawal, so some kind of medication might be required if this didn’t work.

Just like before it booted up fine, only this time the call buttons had life in them too!  The Escape button had gone from dead to mildly erratic and only a few of the letter keys were still misbehaving.  Time for another rice bath.  I let another few hours pass and after that all was good except for the trackball button which still has no effect, although the scrolling motion was working perfectly.  Hopefully in time the trackball button will recover too.

I can’t help but marvel at the resilience of this BlackBerry Bold 9000.  Now what can I throw at it next…?

Coffee and rice are bad for your BlackBerry.  Repeating the events described in this post could void your warranty or cause your BlackBerry to stop working.  I think the rice bath photo is cool.

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Neil Berman is a self-confessed gadget freak with a silicon soft-spot for mobile tech. Neil is the founder of theONbutton computer, gadget and technology help company in Durham NC. Neil has twelve years of IT career experience in the Financial Services industry in London and New York. Neil is a multi-platform supporter and believes that BerryOS, iPhone, Android, WinMo, WebOS, Symbian and others all have a role to play in our mobile world. If they made cyborg implants for a direct mobile Internet feed into the brain, Neil would have one.


  1. ~`. I am really thankful to this topic because it really gives up to date information -;.

  2. 47_MasoN_47 says:

    A friend of mine dropped his bold off of a mezzanine at our job site…26' in the air. It smashed on the concrete and parts went everywhere. There are still some bits of plastic missing but he was able to put the battery in and with the aide of packing tape the BB stays together. It still functions perfectly 🙂 They are resilient buggers!

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