New Study Gives a Clue About How Long Coronavirus Can Live on a Smartphone

A smartphones is one of the most used gadgets, automatically making it the most exposed to viruses like coronavirus.

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New Study Gives a Clue About How Long Coronavirus Can Live on a Smartphone

According to a WHO study from 2003, the SARS-CoV virus can stay on a glass surface for 96 hours.

Highlights
  • Coronavirus can stay on glass for up to 96 hours
  • It can stay on plastic or stainless steel for up to 72 hours
  • Smartphones also need to be sanitised regularly to avoid infection

Smartphones are one of the most used gadgets for everyone. Given how many surfaces and body parts a smartphone touches within a day, it also makes a smartphone the most exposed gadget to germs and viruses. Given the spread of the novel coronavirus or the COVID-19 disease, there have been concerns about smartphones being exposed to the virus as well. Some of the major concerns are – how likely is it for a person to catch the virus from their smartphone, or how long does coronavirus stay on a smartphone. In order to calculate the risk factor, we will see how long the novel coronavirus can stay on a smartphone surface.

Now, according to a World Health Organisation (WHO) study, the original SARS-CoV virus which was found in 2003 was stable on a glass surface for up to 96 hours (four days). Apart from glass, it lasted on hard plastic and stainless steel for about 72 hours (three days), the WHO study says. Now, a recent study from the United States' National Institutes of Health finds that the current novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) can live on surfaces like steel and hard plastic for about 72 hours (three days), same as the SARS-CoV virus. The study also said that the novel coronavirus can last on a cardboard surface for about 24 hours, and about 4 hours on copper. Now, since the new NIH study did not factor in how long the virus stays on glass, other factors do point at similar results as the previous SARS coronavirus.

Hence, from the WHO study of 2003 and the NIH study from this month, it can be assumed that the novel coronavirus can stay on glass for up to 96 hours (four days). And since almost all smartphones come with a glass panel up front, it can be said that the coronavirus can stay on a smartphone for up to four days. Not just smartphones, this applies to any gadget with a glass surface – be it a smartphone, a smartwatch, a tablet, or a laptop.

Now, out of all of these gadgets, the smartphone still remains the most exposed gadget. Hence, it is important to keep cleaning your phone every now and then, in order to avoid further exposure from coronavirus. In order to clean a smartphone, users can either use a cleaning liquid for smartphones/ gadgets or just wipe the surface with a slightly wet microfibre cloth. To sanitise it, it's best to use a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol solution or disinfecting wipes, something that Apple also recommends. One should be careful not to use concentrations higher than 70 percent, or other disinfectant liquids, as these can destroy the oleophobic coating on your smartphone's display. You can also install a screen protector, and clean that instead, so that you don't damage the display coating.

"Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes, you may gently wipe the hard, nonporous surfaces of your Apple product, such as the display, keyboard, or other exterior surfaces. Don't use bleach. Avoid getting moisture in any opening, and don't submerge your Apple product in any cleaning agents. Don't use on fabric or leather surfaces," Apple says on its support page.

You can also check out our video on how to clean your smartphone.


How are we staying sane during this Coronavirus lockdown? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.

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Further reading: Smartphones, Coronavirus, COVID 19
Darab Mansoor Ali Darab Mansoor Ali is trying his hand at being a tech journalist. An enthusiastic petrolhead and an advocate of equal rights for all, Darab is also an avid football follower. His expertise in the tech space lies in gadgets such as mobile phones, laptops, speakers, and gaming consoles. Currently working at NDTV Gadgets 360, Darab has reported on technology and automotive both for several platforms previously. More
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