Have you ever found yourself in a hurry, outside, in the cold, and desperately needing to use your phone? You’re there and need to make a call and check a route… Suddenly Murphy’s law strikes in and the device just shuts itself off abruptly. That scenario sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Don’t worry you’re not alone. No one and no smartphone out there is safe from such misfortune. In this article, we will present 7 tips to make the most out of using your smartphone in cold weather conditions.
First of all, we need to define the issue here. As a matter of fact, smartphones are not made to operate with a constant level of performance in this type of weather. They just can’t because it’s physically (and chemically) impossible. See battery’s compounds are quite like us: put them into extreme temperatures and it’s just hard for them to move as easy as on a nice sunny yet breezy spring afternoon.
Chemists are not exactly sure how to explain why smartphone perform so badly in cold weather, but a viable explanation would be that cold temperatures (below 0°C) slow down chemical reactions that enable elements inside the battery to move around and produce energy, therefore, the device ends up consuming more energy than it produces, lowering its autonomy as a result. If you feel reading more technically about this, here is a great resource.
That being said, it’s important at this stage to make one thing clear about batteries. When you charge a battery, it’s not just a matter of transferring (static) power into it. It’s actually resetting a whole network of elements inside the battery and resetting them up to interact with each other in order to produce energy. Now that we’ve identified the issue, let’s go through 7 tips to make the most out of your smartphone in cold weather.
1 – Protect your device
If you do not wish to keep your phone too close to you, you can also invest in a reliable insulated case or pocket to keep your smartphone sheltered for the cold air. In that regard, PHOOZY is a quite reputable brand making insulated phone pouches design to resist extreme temperatures, cold and warm.
Using patented material derived from NASA spacesuits technology, the award-winning product protects devices by keeping them warm in the cold. In hot weather, it also blocks sun rays and heat from reaching the phone. The pouch is also water-resistant and its design will allow it to float when dropped in the water. It also features military-grade shock protection up to 6 feet.
2 – Limit the exposure
As we know smartphones cannot operate properly outside a certain range of temperatures. As a result, it makes sense to avoid exposing them to these out-of-range temperatures. Generally speaking, most smartphones whether iOS or Android are built to operate above 32°F (0° Celsius). Anything below that and your phone might just freeze out like water out there.
So the second tip of these 7 tips to make the most out of your smartphone in cold weather is to limit the amount of time your phone stands out in the cold. This might actually ask for a bit more preparation for you before stepping outside of the house: things like booking that Uber, check and recheck your itinerary, make necessary calls or sending texts… Once outside, it’s better to keep your phone close to your body (like in an inner pocket in your coat) so that the body temperature keeps it warm.
It’s also a good thing to avoid leaving smartphones and other devices in unheated areas like cars for extended periods of time as the extremely cold temperatures can cause permanent damage to the device and its components.
3 – save the energy
What happens when your phone is out in the cold is that it consumes power just to stay « awake » while its battery doesn’t produce any more power. Therefore it’s consuming more than it should. There is not much to do about that however, you can reduce this consumption to the bare minimum. Reducing the brightness of your screen, closing applications in the background are relevant ways to lower down the amount of energy consumed by your phone. Turning on your phone’s power-saving mode is good too. Finally, if you’re not using BlueTooth or LTE/wifi, it won’t hurt turning these off too!
4 – Get creative in finding ways to use your smartphone… without using it!
We said earlier that you have to avoid using your phone when outside in cold temperatures… But more specifically we meant, « don’t hold your device in your hand in cold weather »… Indeed, if you want to make a call on your way to the grocery store or listen to a podcast, you can still do it by being a bit creative!
Using BlueTooth, you can interact with your phone without having to hold in your hand. Smartwatches and wristbands are the perfect companions here. They will notify you of any text, message or phone call coming your way without requiring you to take on your phone.
You’re quite a vocal person? You can also use wireless earplugs to take your calls or command your phone to launch your favorite podcast or playlist. Should you consider « true-wireless » over wireless technology, Cambridge Audio Melomania 1 is a great set of earplugs for a cheap price. Up to 45 hours of battery life and great sound quality. Here’s what our colleagues at techradar.com have to say about them:
« The sound quality offered by the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1S is sensational. In fact, it rivals some of the best over-ear headphones… They certainly outperform the Apple AirPods, in all respects apart from the lack of wireless charging case. This is a small price to pay for that exceptional audio quality, though, and we think they represent much better value for money, too.»
5 – Bring on some backup power bank
A good way to be sure to have some charge on your smartphone battery could be carrying a power bank around with you. These devices are specially designed to store power and distribute power when plugged into other portable devices.
6 – Back inside, let your device to dry-up/warm-up by itself before plugging it in
The last item in this list is more about good practice in regard to putting your device back in service after it has been exposed to extremely cold temperatures.
We now know that smartphones don’t handle cold weather very well. And sometimes they will simply shut down abruptly in the cold. Be careful though once you get back inside. Avoid plugging in your device too quickly into a power socket. Indeed such an action could cause damage to the components of your smartphone. Instead, it is better to leave the device to warm up to the temperature of the room (10 to 15 minutes should be enough) before charging it up.
7 – Choose your weapon carefully
If you live in a region where days tend to be cold and you and your phone spend quite some time outside, it would make sense to take that into account when looking for your next smartphone. As a matter of fact, iPhones are known to be performing particularly badly in cold and hot weather (except the « glass-sandwiched » iPhone 5). On the other hand, brands like Google Pixels and Motorola can do wonders with the right case on them.
How to make a smartphone last longer in cold weather?
By their own nature, smartphones are prone get hit hard when extreme temperatures come around. Batteries have to work harder to keep the device at the right operating temperature and therefore, they drain faster. There are certains some devices that handle it better than others… Iphones are notorious not to hold up very well in extreme temperatures, while phones like Google Pixel and Motorola do much better there. Sometimes, additional power (through a powerbank, for example) can get you through, although it’s important to wait for the smartphone to come back to a normal temperature before plugin it in. Indeed, failing to do so could damage the circuits and components of the device. As a matter of fact, the best approach when it comes to preserving your smartphone from extreme temperature like cold weather, is rather to limit its exposure to the cold, keep it warm (either in a pocket inside your coat or in an insulated pocket… or even better: both). Another good tip is to turn it off if you don’t need or enable flight mode in order to save battery power.
There you have it: 7 tips to make the most out of your smartphone in cold weather. We hope that this was helpful, feel free to leave comments if you have further recommendations!
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