December 10, 2021

How to Protect Your Phone from the Cold

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This winter, make sure to bundle up — your phone, that is! Yes, we all know how to keep ourselves warm when the temperatures drop, covering ourselves in wool underlayers and puffy down-filled sweater vests, but what about our phones? After all, extreme cold temperatures can cause your phone’s battery life to plunge — or worse, simply not turn on.

Most times, this is typically just a minor inconvenience, forcing us to put down our screens or delay a conversation. But other times, your phone might become a necessity and even a lifeline. For example, if a blizzard takes out power lines or you break down on your way home in a snowstorm, you better make sure you know how to keep your phone working for emergencies. So, learn how to protect your phone from the cold so that you can protect yourself, too.

Put Your Phone in a Protective Phone Case

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Ideally, your phone should already have a case to protect it from everyday wear and tear and sudden drops. So, if your phone already has a case, good for you! If not, it’s time to get one! Adding cell phone cases to your phone can act as an extra layer of insulation while looking stylish and offering practical functionality, too. Choose plastic or silicone rubber iPhone cases that can create a sort of barrier between your phone and all the elements. Ideally, a weather-resistant phone case should protect your phone against all kinds of elements — from sand to snow — but also water, rain and even condensation.

Keep It in an Insulated Sleeve

Even with a phone case wrapped around your device, you might even want to consider an extra phone pouch or sleeve to protect your phone from the cold. An insulated phone pouch can help you extend the phone’s battery life, at the very least when it’s battling extreme cold weather. Actually, it can protect your phone from overheating, too. Then, the insulated phone pouch can slip into an inner coat jacket, adding extra warmth.

Use Your Own Body Heat

You don’t necessarily need a high-tech insulated sleeve to protect your phone. You can also just use your body heat. For instance, you can secure a phone inside a front coat pocket that is close to your torso, where it can absorb heat from your core body temperature of 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

Need to make a call? Keep your phone inside your pocket and connect a pair of AirPods or earpods instead. This will help it to stay warm and dry as you hold a conversation.

Smartwatches also come in handy to help you keep your phone nice and toasty. Plus, they rest against your wrist, keeping warm by your skin and likely beneath the cuff of a coat or thermal glove.

Always keep the phone on you and never leave your phone for too long in a car. Even if your vehicle is in a parking garage at work, your car will not provide much insulation to protect your phone from the cold. If you absolutely must leave a phone in the car — like an emergency phone, for example — be sure to turn it off first.

Maintain Your Phone’s Fully Charged Battery

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In cold weather, your phone’s lithium-ion battery can drain exponentially fast. On a cold day, your phone’s battery might start fully charged, only to drain quickly and even become dead by the end of the day, if not sooner. So keeping your phone’s battery charged as full as possible is a priority — if not to protect your phone, at least to keep you safe in emergencies. So how can one maintain a fully charged battery?

The first thing to note here is to start your day with a fully charged phone.

The second step you should take is to reduce your power use by:

  • Turning your phone on low-battery mode or its power-save mode.
  • Switching your phone to Airplane Mode to turn off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
  • Reducing the screen’s brightness levels.
  • Closing out all apps and ensuring they’re not running in the background.

Closing apps and turning off location services is an excellent way to reduce your phone’s battery drain. However, if you need to use a trail map or directions, remember to offline any maps beforehand so you can still switch to Airplane mode.

Never Charge a Cold Phone

Keeping a portable power bank or portable charger on hand can save the day, especially in a real emergency. For example, if you slide on an ice patch in the road and need to call for help or roadside assistance, you want to ensure your phone can make the call. And while you want to maintain a charge, be mindful of when you charge it and only do so if your phone is not too cold.

Charging your phone in cold temperatures can ultimately damage the battery. So instead, focus on trying to maintain your phone’s charge so it doesn’t drop any lower. The best way to do this is to try and reach your phone’s operating ambient temperature range, which can be found on its spec page online.

To give an idea of a phone’s optimal ambient temperature, let’s use the iPhone 13 as an example. The iPhone 13’s operating ambient temperature is between 32 degrees and 95 degrees Fahrenheit and its non-operating temperature falls at -4 degrees Fahrenheit and over 113 degrees Fahrenheit. So aim to warm your phone to its ideal operating temperature to make the battery last longer and prevent the phone from shutting down completely.

Protect Your Phone to Protect Yourself

Keeping your phone protected from the cold is about a whole lot more than a minor inconvenience or preventing a battery drain. Too often, we take our phones for granted and this is one of those times. Yes, your phone’s battery can drain, but more so, it may not be there when you need it to make a call for help.

About the author 

Peter Hatch

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