Warnings About Smartphone Damage in Cold

January 23, 2014

The frigid temperatures can take a toll on your smartphone — even causing it to temporarily freeze and shut off. 

Smartphone manufacturers have warned in the past about how phones can overheat on hot days, and now they’re also warning that phones can freeze on a cold day, too. In extreme temperatures — say, minus 10 degrees or lower — the phone can shut off. Even pressing the power button a few times may result in nothing but a blank screen. 

However, your phone most likely isn’t completely dead. Usually, the phones will come back on when they’re brought inside and have a chance to warm up, The New York Times reports. 

Popular Mechanics recently tested how well cell phones could withstand the cold. 

“We found, in general, that when you reach about minus 10 degrees, some screens start to dim and went immediately to low battery,” says Seth Porges, a technology writer who oversaw the Popular Mechanics study. “At minus 20, several [cell phone] models shut off, and at minus 30, almost every device suffered severe battery and screen problems and was almost inoperable.” 

Phones that were subjected to temperatures of minus 40 or minus 55 went dead, the study found. 

Popular Mechanics, however, did find the phones returned to normal after the temperatures got warmer. 

On Apple’s website, the company suggests using the iPhone only in temperatures from 32 degrees to 95 degrees Fahrenheit. The company warns that lower temperatures can temporarily shorten the phone’s battery life.

Source: “When Your Smartphone Shuts Down From the Cold,” The New York Times (Jan. 22, 2014)

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