Would You Buy An iPhone That Fell In Urine?

Our ex-stepbrothers at Gizmodo found a craigslist ad for a barely used iPhone, selling for significantly below list price. There’s just one problem.

As the posting notes, the iPhone was dropped into a puddle of urine while the owner was using it in a bathroom (we hope he was playing games on it and not using the camera feature). He wiped it off “really really good” though, which is probably good enough when we’re talking about urine.

So, Consumerist readers, would you buy this iPhone for $300? Keep in mind that a new 16GB iPhone with contract from AT&T is $299, so there’s no savings there, but if you wanted to go contract-free, a 16GB iPhone would be $699, making the $300 price seem like a piddling sum of money.

Pee-Tarnished iPhone for Sale, Come and Get It! [Gizmodo]
(Photo: saital)


Edit Your Comment

  1. PipeRifle says:

    A piddling sum. I love it.

  2. nakedscience says:

    Well, considering I once dropped my phone in the toilet, and continue to use it after wiping it off … I probably would. But I’d get some Lysol first!

  3. kaptainkk says:

    Urine is sterile, so why not?

    • youbastid says:

      @kaptainkk: This argument is always made, but it’s not true. It’s sterile when it leaves the body. It’s not sterile when it’s been sitting in a puddle on the floor.

    • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

      @kaptainkk: Urine is sterile when it leaves the body. Not so much when it’s formed a puddle on a men’s room floor.

      • nakedscience says:

        @larrymac: And it’s not really sterile when it leaves the body if the person is not clean/has some sort of disease/as soon as it hits air/whatever.

    • dohtem says:

      @kaptainkk: lol, you think everyone is healthy?

    • Julia789 says:

      @kaptainkk: Urine is *usually* sterile (unless someone has a bladder infection) but the crotch it exits through is far from sterile. There are bacteria and yeast even on healthy people who get into it.

      That is why for a true clean urine sample, a urologist will use anti-microbial solution to clean the genitals and the use a catheter to get the sample. Even for casual urine samples at the doctor’s office, wet wipes are provided to cleanse prior, to lessen contamination of the sample.

      But while people’s urine is usually safe through accidental contact, here are plenty of diseases of ANIMALS that can be transmitted by urine:

      Leptospirosis is a bacterial infection transmitted by animal urine (usually rats, raccoons, and dogs, dogs get it from drinking from puddles where a rat or raccoon has urinated). People usually get it from having rats in their house and touching the urine without realizing it, or from contact with infected dogs. [www.cdc.gov]

      Deadly Hantavirus is transmitted by urine. [www.cdc.gov]

      And plenty of other zoonotic diseases that can be transmitted by urine. [www.tc.umn.edu]

      • MrEvil says:

        @Julia789: Do you shake hands with people? People’s hands have more bacteria on them than the average man’s scrotum.

        • Julia789 says:

          @MrEvil: Hands are the filthiest place on the body, no doubt.

          I’m not saying you’re likely to get sick from urine on a toilet seat. I’m just nitpicking the use of the word “sterile” because urine is usually contaminated after it leaves the bladder.

          And there is a *slight* possibility disease could be transmitted by urine, as people can get Leptospirosis and Hantavirus from urine.

          My point is that people say “urine is sterile” and it’s not once it comes out. Does that make it likely to infect you with something? Probably not. But it’s not sterile.

  4. bloggerX says:

    umm…no. Geez I had to think hard on it.

  5. Cocoa Vanilla says:

    Yeah, it still works, but the warranty is probably void. There’s a water sensor (two, in fact). It depends on which side it was dropped and how shallow the puddle of urine was. ;)

    But no. Just more reason NOT to buy a used phone. (Yeah, I know.. anything you buy can have urine on it. But it’s a phone.. you put it up to your face.)

    • humphrmi says:

      @Cocoa Vanilla: Urine isn’t going to infect or harm you. As others mentioned, its sterile. Sure, bacteria grows in urine, just like it does in any liquid. You probably have more bacteria on your phone from the perspiration on your face.

  6. Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ゜-゜ノ) says:

    Depends… is it Steve Jobs’ urine?

  7. Real Cheese Flavor says:

    Sure, just wipe it down with some alcohol first.

  8. calquist says:

    I wouldn’t buy anything on Craigslist that I couldn’t confirm is going to work just by looking at it. Spending $300 on an iphone is just too risky for Craigslist in my book.

  9. MostlyHarmless says:

    To rephrase, would you piss away $300 on a cellphone that someone pissed on?

    And “Our ex-stepbrothers at Gizmodo” is hilarious.

  10. k6richar says:

    as long as the urine did not get inside the device its as good as new after a quick washing

  11. BytheSea says:

    The real question is, what have you already bought that WAS dropped in urine and you didn’t know.

  12. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    If it’s in perfect working condition, why is he selling it? I’d accept that he didn’t like the phone, but I suspect that it’s the seller who has a problem with a pee phone. And for $300!

  13. microcars says:

    why would you ever admit something like this if you were selling an iPhone?
    also- I travel a lot and I have yet to see “a puddle of urine” on a public bathroom floor.

  14. jc364 says:

    I do appreciate the honesty of this seller. I would have just said it landed on a wet floor.

    • LegoMan322 says:

      @jc364: Since it works fine I do not see any reason to say anything. I do like the honesty also, but if it is so perfect, why is he/she selling it? They never said anything else about why they do not want it.

      • Rectilinear Propagation says:

        Since it works fine I do not see any reason to say anything.

        @LegoMan322: Maybe there’s a smell and he figures he’ll say what it is up front rather than get a buyer who’ll freak out when he has to explain it.

  15. balthisar says:

    Like I said on the other urine post, it’s sterile, barring any infections.

  16. Matthew Frank says:

    Good to see Microcars has no inclination towards good natured honesty. Sort of a “I have herpes but I’m not about to tell her!” attitude in life?

    And not having seen a puddle of urine on a men’s room floor, what planet do you have live? Maybe you live in Dubai in an ultra-luxurious hotel?

  17. David Brodbeck says:

    Besides the “ew” factor, urine is incredibly corrosive. I’d pass.

  18. danramarch says:

    I probably would if the price was low enough. Certainly not for $300 though.

  19. lpranal says:

    well i suppose you could take it apart, clean it with 99% (or higher) alcohol, then distilled / deionized water. as long as you dont care about the warranty, I say go for it.

  20. formatc says:

    Depends on whose urine it was. If it was a celebrity, that’s a collectible.

    • RandomHookup says:

      @formatc: if it includes DNA…

      • sarahq says:

        @RandomHookup: Heh. I’m a forensic DNA analyst and no, urine’s not a good source of DNA because it contains relatively few cells in a large volume of liquid.

        Saliva’s a different story, though. I get profile off stolen cell phones quite regularly.

        (More science-y facts than you wanted to know, I imagine.)

  21. Cant_stop_the_rock says:

    Urine isn’t going to hurt you. But I’m not poor, so I’d spend the extra money and get a urine-free model.

  22. Rubleaux says:

    Purchase this phone and ur-ine trouble!

  23. Papa Midnight says:

    Hell No.

  24. Digitizer says:

    First I thought “hell no”, but that second “really” (really really good) changed my mind..

  25. zandar says:

    for $20.

    If it’s in such excellent shape, why doesn’t the seller just keep it? Hmmm? Answer me that one.

  26. Galactica says:

    Why would the seller even disclose that?

  27. Gokuhouse says:

    lol, I wouldn’t pay 300 dollars for something dropped in pee that I’m going to put near my face. That just seems like a disease waiting to happen…

  28. OMG! Con Seannery! says:

    That’s disgusting right there…I mean come on, people. That’s n iPhone. Gross…

  29. KiLE says:

    Since a new generation of iphones is most likely going to come out within the next month, it would be pretty silly to buy this generation iphone for $300 (even if it came without the pee).

  30. Jessica Haas says:

    This is why I don’t buy electronics on CL.

    For everyone one guy that is honest, like this post, imagine how many others are going to lie about it.

  31. kz26 says:

    Hopefully you won’t be “pissed” after your decision to buy it.

  32. YarrrSquiddy says:

    I have a gut feeling that there’s more to this phone than just having been dropped in urine. I would totally understand it if the guy was skeeved out by using a pee phone, but if that was the a case – how could he have summed up the will to pick up / clean the phone in the first place? It’s probably damaged….. unless he suddenly developed a bizarre aversion to iphones…. meh. I wouldn’t buy it

  33. yevarechecha says:

    No way. I won’t get into my bed without taking a shower first and I had to wipe down my headphones with Bactine last night because my cat tried to chew part of it. Maybe the phone is OK, but my brain is too OCD to cope with the thought of pee near my head.

  34. evilcharity says:

    In a word…no. In order to use it as a phone one must press the thing against one’s face. Ick.

  35. Paul Fulkerson says:

    When I was younger, I lost two of my front teeth in an accident. I got a flipper as a replacement until I turned 18, when I stopped growing. For those who don’t know, a flipper is like a retainer, but with artificial teeth attached. I broke it a few times by chewing on it, though not enough to render it useless.

    That said, one day I was eating something, and accidentally swallowed my fake teeth. So guess what? The next day, I was digging for gold in the toilet, with a pair of plastic forks. Luckily I found my teeth pretty quickly. So, I washed them off “really really good” like this guy, and continued using them until I got porcelain implants a few months later.

    So yeah, if I wanted an iPhone, I’d buy this guy’s.

  36. wireddeals says:

    It is unbelievable anybody could put out an ad like this.

    It could be a trap – you buy it and you will end up on some night show with everyone making laughs at you

    Or it could be a fake ad to feed data to some psychology research.

    It feels unreal

  37. OolonColluphid says:

    It must smell or something. Otherwise, why would he even mention it? Also, probably a new iPhone being announced on Monday. Now is not the time to be spending money on a 3G… pee or no pee.

  38. Shoelace says:

    ‘i picked it up immediately and wiped it off really really good’

    Wiped it off with what? The object in your other hand?

    I would NOT buy that phone. No telling what’s grown on and possibly in it by now. Ewwwwww.

  39. faust1200 says:

    Do I admire the seller’s honesty? Yes. Would I buy it? No. Would I disclose this information if I were selling a pee-contaminated but otherwise operational phone? Doubtful.

  40. kdollarsign says:

    that’s got to be a joke.

  41. parrotuya says:

    Not just no but…Hell NO! Even if it was sold at a deep discount I would not buy it. Buying stuff that was in someone else’s pis is the the ultimate insult! Throw it away, it is worth less that worthless!

    DOWn, baby, DOWn!

  42. FrankenPC says:

    The big problem is proteins tend to be very sticky. You need a detergent to scrub them off. Or acid/hydrogen peroxide. Both would be a liability to the iPhone.

  43. CapitalC says:

    C’mon, the guy wiped it off for you …

  44. goodywitch says:

    I was in a Thai restaurant and dropped a dollar in the urinal. It was a unisex bathroom, toilet, urinal, sink, if you’re wondering why a girl was in a bathroom with a urinal. I left it there, but I’m sure SOMEONE picked it up and spent it. Just something to keep in mind.

  45. JulesNoctambule says:

    No, but then again I wouldn’t buy one that was factory fresh, either.

  46. Black-Cat says:

    I wouldn’t take it if it hadn’t swimmed in piss and was free; iphone sucks ass; but tools love em.

  47. Rectilinear Propagation says:


    I don’t care how freaking clean and sterile it’s supposed to be, it’s URINE.

  48. Invader Zim says:

    piss on it. He’d only mention the urine thingy if the phone had a certain unmistakable odor to it. Or wait is that the new piss smell app? yep theres an app for that.