DryBox Rescue aims to absorb frustration from water-damaged phones

WASHINGTON — About three months ago, Lucy Berenato ruined her 25th phone in about a decade.

She was getting a pedicure and checking work emails, when she dropped the phone and it tumbled directly into the tub of bubbling water in which her feet were soaking.

“[The employee] asked me to lift my leg and it dropped right in the water,” Berenato says. “I couldn’t believe it.”

The 26-year-old Boston-area resident may be the poster child for a generation of people who lose phones and all of their precious data because of water damage.

A product called DryBox Rescue aims to take away the agony of waiting to see whether a soggy phone is salvageable and its new machine in D.C. is attracting customers anxious to bring wet devices back from the dead.

In the U.S. alone, more than 85,000 phones get wet each day, DryBox estimates.

DryBox uses a combination of heat and pressure to extract moisture from a wet phone in about 30 minutes. The machine is not for individual resale and is more of a service provided to consumers through authorized dealers or at kiosks.

“It’s like CPR for your electronic devices,” says David Naumann, managing partner of Dry Venures, Inc., the company behind DryBox.

The D.C. DryBox, located at Zagg Phone Repair at 1204 G St. in Northwest, charges $49.95 for the service. There is a $10 fee even if DryBox is not successful. D.C. is home to one of 25 DryBox machines in the country.

Nationwide, the fee can cost between $20 and $50 depending on the location and type of machine. Most locations offer a money-back option if the service was unsuccessful and the customer followed the company’s limitations, which include bringing in the phone within 36 hours of the liquid exposure.

Other remedies, such as soaking a phone in rice or using synthetic desiccants, can take days, Naumann says. The DryBox offers the “instant gratification” people want.

“If you’re still going to have to pay $20, wouldn’t you rather pay the same price and get a resolution in 30 minutes?” Naumann says. “It’s not ‘why try it’ – it’s ‘