If you've ever watched your phone go from 100 percent battery to 70 percent almost instantly when the weather drops, then you know: Cell phones are not designed to perform in extreme temperatures. And, while you've probably seen the heat warning on your mobile device during warm months, cold weather can have just as negative effect on your cell phone's lifespan as heat. In fact, in some tests, below-freezing temperatures (anything less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit), can cause your phone's battery to drop as much as 20 percent. That's why learning how to winterproof your phone will help prolong your mobile device’s life, so you can send those important texts all year round.
"It's a matter of chemistry. And not in an 'I love my phone and it loves me' kind of way," Geek Squad Agent Derek Meister tells Bustle. "Cold temperatures slow down the chemical reactions that produce electricity to the point where your battery loses its power. Interestingly, while cold weather can cause a battery to stop functioning temporarily, it's typically too much heat that may permanently damage a battery."
"Consult your phone's manual or manufacturer's website for their recommended temperature range, but most phones will typically be designed to operate between 32 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit," Meister tells Bustle, noting that Apple also lists these temperatures as the optimal range on its support page.
How To Keep Your Phone Warm In Cold Weather
That said, as anyone living in colder climates knows, sometimes operating your phone in temperatures lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit is unavoidable. In an emergency situation this battery drain is less than ideal, so it's important to know how to properly care for your device in the winter — both for your immediate needs, and the longterm health of your phone. Here are a few steps to keep your phone warm in the cold weather:
1. Use a Phone Case That Offers Protection
During the coldest months of winter, we wrap ourselves in hats, coats, boots, and gloves as protection from the elements. As it turns out, that same logic should be applied to our phones, too.
"Basically, treat your phone like yourself," Meister tells Bustle. "Keep it out of the cold and protect it from the wind as much as possible. Kind of like a tiny, fashionable coat, a good case can help reduce your phone's direct contact with cold air. A waterproof case that wraps completely around the phone helps by covering the back and front from the air blowing across the phone, as well as wet snow should you accidentally drop your phone while out."
Not only is this fan-favorite phone case waterproof, but it can even stand up to snow and cold weather as well. In fact, nearly 2,000 Amazon reviewers sound on in the reviews section that this phone case is the best they've ever purchased. One fan says, "I definitely recommend this case! My phone fell couple of times in the snow and the snow didn’t go inside. Good quality pictures as well!!" This one is designed for the iPhone 7 or 8 Plus, but it comes in other sizes, including the iPhone X, and the iPhone 7 and 8.
For some of us, though, a winterproof case might not be enough; for people who plan to be out in the cold a lot or are especially active in winter, Meister suggests outfitting your phone accordingly: "If you plan on being out in the cold frequently, you may want to look into more niche phone cases specifically designed to protect phones from the cold, like those for hikers."
2. Take Care Of The Battery
Battery drain is a common side effect of cold weather. Make sure your phone is fully charged before heading out into freezing temperatures to combat the possible rapid decrease of battery power. It's also helpful to have a backup power source handy — or even a case with a built-in charger or portable power bank — to make sure you are always prepared in an emergency situation. There are even phone pouches designed to extend the battery life of your device from overheating or freezing when you're in extreme temperatures.
This insulated phone pouch was designed with extreme temperatures in mind. Made from NASA technology that reflects the sun, this insulated pouch can keep your phone from overheating in the sun, and protects against cold temperatures as well. It's also water-resistant, floats if it's in water, and has military-grade shock resistance, should you drop it. One fan raves, "I love this product! I frequently walk in cold weather, and it does extend my battery life and protects my phone. I think the construction is outstanding!. The opening with the red tabs is super easy to use, even with gloves on. It closes very easily and stays shut. I especially like the fabric - it is very sleek and not too bulky. I bought the larger one. I can get a little cash or credit card and key in it, and it just easily slides into my pocket."
Should your phone give you a low temperature warning or shut off by itself and you're not in an emergency situation, there are measures you can take for the longterm health of your phone. "Moving the device out of cold and wet conditions will be your first priority," Meister tells Bustle. "That said, don't do anything to try and speed the warming process such as placing your phone near a heater. Also, don't plug your phone into a charger until it's back to normal operating temperatures. Doing either could cause uneven warming inside the device causing possible physical damage to your phone's internals, screen or case."
3. Get Creative About Battery Preservation
You may be used to having your phone semi-attached to your hand, but there are actually ways to avoid pulling it out and exposing it to the elements — and in fact, you might actually find that these creative methods of avoiding it are convenient enough you'll want to use them in the non-winter months too.
"Many people find that a smartwatch helps as you'll be taking your phone out less often to check notifications and your watch is warmed by your skin," Meister tells Bustle. "Another option is to use Bluetooth headphones compatible with your phone's voice assistant so you can be alerted by a notification or phone call or command your phone without taking it from your pocket."
These wireless Bluetooth headphones have nearly 5,000 glowing Amazon reviews. They're waterproof, have a built-in mic, and are compatible with most devices. You can easily store them in their charging case when you're not using them, and then pull them out in the cold weather to limit the amount of time you're glued to your phone. This will improve your battery life and ultimately help protect your phone against freezing temperatures. One reviewer says, "Great bass from an earbud. I keep these in my travel bag subjecting the case to a bit of abuse. No problem. Still looks brand new and the charging cable, I use a separate charging battery, stays in place. Perfect for on the go. We've had some snowy weather lately. Worked fine in the cold and wet."
There you have it — the comprehensive guide on how to keep your phone warm in the cold weather, to the best of your ability. Follow these tips, and you'll get much better use out of your phone all year round.
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This post was first published on December 28th, 2016. It was updated on June 26th, 2019.
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