How to make sure your smartphone survives the winter

Just when you thought the worst of the winter weather was over, a cold snap comes along and throws everything into chaos – wrapping up for the sub-zero temperatures and de-icing your car can add vital minutes onto your morning commute that can see you hit the worst of the traffic.

And then there’s the effect the cold can have on your smartphone, which can experience performance problems, and break more easily, when the temperature drops.

So, help make your life a little easier, here’s how to make sure your smartphone survives the winter.

Why are smartphones affected by the cold?

Smartphones are powered by lithium-ion batteries, and when these power-packs get cold their performance suffers, which usually sees their life drain faster than normal, or the phone will suddenly die when the display says there’s plenty of life left.

The good news is that these effects are only temporary, and the battery should go back to normal when it’s returned to more clement temperatures.

If you’re going to be going anywhere where it’s really cold, it’s worth checking your phones optimum temperature range – a quick search for the “iPhone 8’s Environmental Requirements”, for instance, throws up the following:

  • Operating ambient temperature: 0° to 35° C (32° to 95° F)
  • Non-operating temperature: −20° to 45° C (−4° to 113° F)
  • Relative humidity: 5% to 95% non-condensing
  • Operating altitude: tested up to 3,000 metres (10,000 feet)

So if you’re going to be heading up a mountain any time soon, might be best to trade your Apple in for something more suited to the conditions.

Burt if you’re not heading to higher altitudes or massively colder climes, here are five tips for using your phone as the temperature drops.

5 tips for using your smartphone in winter

1. Don’t let it get too cold

It sounds obvious, but the  best  way to keep your smartphone working well is to keep it from the cold, so try to avoid leaving them inside parked cars or by draughty windows. Instead, keep it in your pocket so they can absorb your body heat, or use a case designed for cold temperatures.
If you do need to leave your phone behind, turn it off instead of just putting it to sleep.
And when taking your phone from the extreme of cold outdoor air and warm indoor air, put your phone in your pocket before you go inside, so it can gradually adjust to the warmer indoor temperatures – quick temperature changes can cause condensation to form in the device, and this type of water damage won’t be covered under any warranty, and maybe not even by any insurance you’ve taken out.

2. Use headphones

If it’s cold and you take your phone out to talk, its battery is going to suffer. So to avoid a power drop, or complete death, use headphones with an integrated microphone, especially during business or conference calls, when a drop-out is the last thing you need.

3. Use touchscreen Gloves

If you have no choice but to use the smartphone outdoors in the cold, you don’t want to be fumbling round taking off thick gloves and risking dropping your handset. So get yourself a pair of touchscreen gloves with inserts on the fingertips that transmits the electrical impulses of the skin on the mobile phone display.

4. Only ever charge in the warm

If the smartphone battery dies in the cold, you’ll want to charge it straight away, even if you’re in a cold car – but a cold device doesn’t charge so fast, so it’s best to wait and plug in the phone when it is back to normal temperature. Under no circumstances should you put the phone on the heater to speed up this process, as you could do it some serious damage.

5. Get an outdoor phone

If you want to spend a lot of time outdoors at work or you want to be well-equipped for skiing, an outdoor mobile is the best choice. These mobile phones are much more robust than conventional smartphones and are reliable even in high cold or wet conditions.