Apple changes tune on water damaged iDevices

A leaked document obtained by a French web site seems to show that Apple has relaxed its policy on devices which have apparently been damaged by water.

All current models of Apple's iPhone and iPod have what the company calls Liquid Contact Indicators (LCI) which nestle within the audio output port or dock connector (or both in some cases) and are designed to detect when the device has come into contact with water or other fluids.

Several high profile case have been brought against Apple in which customers insist their gadgets have never been in contact with liquid despite evidence to the contrary from the LCIs.

The tiny LCI pads are normally white or metallic in colour but turn red or pink when they get wet. Apple retail staff have been trained to use an illuminated magnifying glass or an otoscope (the angled torch thing your doctor uses to peer into your lugholes) to inspect the pads for any suspicious change in colour.

Until recently, Apple staff were told to deny any warranty claims on devices which had triggered LCIs but the Apple training sheet obtained by igeneration shows that the policy has changed considerably.

Devices which show other obvious signs of water damage, like corrosion to contacts or evidence of liquid under LCD panels, will still not be repaired under warranty.

And customers who admit that their iDevice has been dropped in a cup of coffee or down the toilet will get a similar response and can look forward to a hefty repair bill.

But it looks like those customers who insist that the LCIs were triggered by sweaty hands, or high humidity, or low temperatures may get a more sympathetic hearing from Apple.

"If a customer disputes whether an iPod with an activated LCI has been damaged by liquid contact and there are no external signs of damage from corrosion, then the iPod may still be eligible for warranty repair," states the internal document.

The iPad and the iPhone 4 have the same LCI systems in place and we reckon you can safely assume that the iPod warranty policy will extend to those devices as well.