Cold Weather Safety for your Phone

A few special considerations for keeping your phone operating in extreme cold

Cell phone tips for extrme cold conditions

Phones are more an essential part of many of our daily routines. For some of us, they’re essential tools we need to perform our jobs, and sometimes our only means of contact with anyone else. For all the developments that have gone into making phones as powerful, slim, and feature-rich as they are, they’re more vulnerable to cold weather than ever. 

In a comprehensive test performed by the Technical Research Center of Finland, a wide range of consumer phones were put in a “cold room”; an extreme cold-weather simulation chamber. Many phones, particularly Apple’s iPhone, performed poorly at 0 degrees Celsius. At -10 Celsius, over half of the consumer devices tested shut down and refused to power back up. At the lowest range of the test test, -40 degrees Celsius, no consumer device was operational at all. 

There are two major places your phone will fail in extreme cold weather: the screen, and the battery. 

The capacitive touchscreen that is common to every phone is typically made of a very durable glass that resists impact, abrasion, and is proofed against condensation. As the temperature drops, the glass becomes more fragile. It has been reported to crack very easily and shatter more readily. IN some cases, the shift in temperature has caused screens to break without any outside force.  

The battery, when exposed to cold weather, begins to behave erratically. It will begin to discharge far faster than normal, report the wrong charge level remaining, or simply shut off without warning. In many cases, all of the above will happen at once: you’ll think your battery has more charge than it really does, shut itself down, and when you try to power it back up, you’ll find the battery has gone entirely flat in a fraction of the time you thought it would.  

While the deleterious effects of cold weather vary from device to device, none is proofed against cold weather entirely. Each device has a specific range it best operates within, with that value often in the manual that came with your device. The best protection you can offer your device, and by extension yourself, are a few good practices. 

First, be mindful of the temperature! Learn what your phone can and can’t operate in, and take extra precautions when you have to use your device in cold weather. If you must leave your phone somewhere cold, it’s better to turn it off completely instead of just putting it to sleep. This has a lot of associated risks with it, but will help ensure that you have a charge remaining when your device warms back up and you need to use it. 

If you have to be outside for prolonged periods of time and your phone is an essential, keep it inside your jacket, close to your body heat. This will help it stay above freezing, and keep it from discharging quickly or shutting down at inopportune moments.  

If your phone did shut itself off while you’re outside, warm it up before turning it back on. This will help protect the battery from serious damage, and ensure your phone will continue to operate.  

Once you’ve become familiar with these practices, consider using capacitive gloves to help keep your fingers warm when using the touch screen. This way, you’re less likely to drop your device and shatter the screen. If it’s too cold for consumer capacitive gloves, there are many touchscreen-friendly styluses available that you can use in your thermal gloves. 

The best advice, of course, is to stay mindful of the temperature, be aware of all the risks, and always plan your actions before you make them! With SafetyLine, use shorter intervals and check in frequently to ensure that any accident, no matter how minor, is noticed as soon as possible and you avoid any excessive cold weather exposure. 

Stay safe out there this winter! 

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