Here’s how to keep your phone working properly in cold temperatures - according to experts

Thursday, 11th February 2021, 2:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 11th February 2021, 2:30 pm
Does your phone have troubles with the cold? (Photo: Shutterstock)

As temperatures across the UK continue to drop, and snow and ice cover the ground, some of us might have noticed our smartphones acting a little differently when we’re out and about.

From your battery draining twice as fast as normal to your phone freezing or shutting down, the performance of your device can vary wildly when temperatures drop too low.

‘Most phones slow down when it’s cold outside’

If you find that your phone is behaving strangely in the cold, then you’re not alone.

Angela Pawlowska, from mobile repair company Free Fusion, says: “Regardless of the brand, most phones slow down their normal functions when it’s icy cold outside - we might notice that the camera doesn’t open as usual, and can get worried when the screen freezes or doesn’t respond to our touch.”

The key thing to try and remember is not to leave your device exposed to cold temperatures for extended periods of time.

“The most dangerous thing for a phone is leaving the device outside, for example in your car,” Pawlowska says.

Cold weather could actually leave your phone water damaged, according to Pawlowska.

“As long as it is cold, the moisture won’t condensate, but when we take the phone home, the difference in temperatures can cause quick condensation, and as a result, we have a water damaged phone,” she explains.

“The water damage is the most dangerous type of issue for a device in relation to weather. We should avoid leaving our phones outside and you need to make sure that your phone is always dry and warm, where possible.”

Battery life issues

Your phone’s battery life could be permanently affected by cold weather conditions.

“The battery life can also be shortened by the cold. You should charge your device fully, before leaving the house, and don’t charge it in the car or outside using power banks,” Pawlowska recommends.

Tech site Android Authority doubles down on this advice, stating if your phone has been drained by the cold, you shouldn’t try to charge your phone before it’s been brought back up to temperature.

“During the warming process, do not charge your phone. Just let it warm up on its own with no charging cable attached,” Android Authority says.

You should also never try heating up your phone by putting it in the microwave or in the oven if it’s gotten too cold. Instead, gently bring it back up to temperature by keeping it in your pocket.

‘Lithium-Ion batteries affected by the cold’

Wiji Gorwara, from mobile repair company Phone Surgery, says: “You might have never thought about it, but the ambient temperature can really affect your smartphone’s performance and specifically how your smartphone’s battery performs.

“Most smartphones and tablets use Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) batteries which can be affected when they are in a really hot or really cold environment.

“Apple suggests keeping their devices between zero and 35C to allow the battery to perform adequately. The same applies for most smartphones and tablets by other manufacturers as they also use Lithium-Ion batteries.

“Using your device outside of these temperatures can affect how well the battery performs and shorten the battery life, causing the phone's power to cut off randomly, and the phone to switch off suddenly.”

How to keep your device safe from the cold

Luckily, there are things you can do to help your phone to keep functioning when you need it to, even in cold weather.

Gorwara says: “You can try to keep your phone close to your body, such as in your pocket, rather than your bag. The transfer of your body heat will help to mitigate against the freezing temperatures outside.

“Keep it wrapped or insulated when you are not using it, a bit like your hands in gloves or your ears with a hat. In short, keep yourselves and your phone warm - but not too warm.”

Battery and phone performance can also be affected by excessively high temperatures, so the aim is to keep your device at an ambient temperature.

The good news is that if your phone has been impacted by the cold, just know that, usually, the effects are only temporary.