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What happens with your iPhone during the coronavirus epidemic?

Updated Mar 10th, 2020 7:17AM EDT
Coronavirus Update
Image: Alex Tai/SOPA Images/Shutterstock

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  • The coronavirus outbreak is bad news, but standard hygiene measures will reduce the risk of infection — that includes cleaning your iPhone, and other portable electronics.
  • Official iPhone cleaning instructions already exist, and they apply to other Apple products and other electronics.
  • The Covid-19 epidemic has also impacted the iPhone supply chain, which means repairs and replacements might take longer than usual, according to a new leak.
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus epidemic might be slowing down in China, where it all started a few months ago, but it’s really just beginning everywhere else. Italy is the best example of things going wrong when it comes to Covid-19 infections. In just over two weeks, Italy reached over 9,100 infections, and 463 deaths, according to recent numbers. The government initially quarantined the north of the country and then locked the entirety of Italy down. In other words, there’s still no reason to panic, as it looks like the coronavirus won’t go away soon, and might become a seasonal flu-like disease to be aware of. But you should still make sure you take some protections to reduce the risk of catching and transmitting Covid-19. Increased awareness of personal hygiene is something that can help a great deal with preventing infections. You should wash your hands correctly as often as possible, use hand sanitizer, and avoid touching your face — you must have heard this advice everywhere. But you know what else you should do? Clean your phone too.

Of everything else around us, the smartphone is the object we touch the most every day, no matter where we are and regardless of whether our hands are clean. Coronavirus or not, that won’t change going forward. In fact, smartphone use will only increase if you have to spend time indoors in isolation from others. The smartphone is your gateway to the world, and the perfect weapon to keep boredom in check.

Coronavirus or not, you should be cleaning your iPhone or Android device frequently. Like I said before, we touch it the most during the day. That concerns both the screen and the rear panel. If you have a protection case, you might want to remove it from time to time and clean the inside of it as well.

The problem with the coronavirus is that, even if you keep your hands clean, droplets containing the virus might reach your phone when you’re using it in public places, and they might transfer to your fingers and then your body.

We’ve already told you that Apple posted advice on how to clean your iPhone and any other product — Clorox Disinfecting Wipes are your friend.

But what happens if your handset gets damaged and needs fixing while coronavirus measures might be in effect in your region? The first thing you should do if you’re getting ready to turn your device in for repairs is to back your data up — and you might even want to restore the phone to factory settings. Then you should clean the handset before bringing in to an Apple Store or authorized repair site — or before shipping it in.

The bad news is, according to a YouTuber, that the coronavirus might impact repairs. Jon Prosser took to Twitter earlier this week to reveal that, according to a source from Apple, iPhone production is two months behind schedule, and repair parts may take 2-4 weeks to become available. Unit replacements might require up to eight weeks of waiting. He also said that Apple might issue a loan iPhone while you wait for yours to be serviced. As long as you have an iPhone 6s or later, and Apple has enough stock, you might get either an iPhone 7 or iPhone 8 loaner.

We have no confirmation for this particular rumor, but China’s lockdown measures that quarantined millions of people for weeks has impacted the iPhone production supply chain — and the iPhone isn’t the only high-profile gadget affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

Once you get a replacement, you should clean it before you restore your backups and start using it. And then keep repeating that cleaning procedure, regardless of whether there’s a virus outbreak alert out there or not. The same goes for Android devices or any other portable gadgets, including tablets, laptops, the Switch, cameras, and so on.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.