Why Your Smartphone’s Battery Drains in Cold Weather

man in coat and scarf looking at his phone

Smartphones need protection from cold weather, too. | Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

Cold weather means bundling up in layers complete with a hat, scarf, and gloves. Just as we protect ourselves against low temperatures, smartphones need protection, too. Find out how to protect your smartphone with the phone equivalent of a winter coat.

How batteries work

Phone batteries work similarly to car batteries. Just as cars take longer to start in the winter months, phones work slower, too. Batteries convert stored chemical energy to electrical when needed, according to Time. “Cold weather causes internal resistance, slowing down the conversion process and resulting in less overall capacity.”

Phones don’t work well in extreme temperatures

woman outside sitting on bench while on her phone

The battery might drain faster in the cold. | iStock.com/Reimphoto

Electronics, including smartphones, don’t work well in extreme temperatures. In the summertime, an alert might pop up on smartphone screens saying the phone needs to cool down because the device is too hot. But smartphones react differently to cold weather. “When cold, a phone battery can drain faster than normal, or it might say it has ample power remaining and then suddenly go dead,” CNN says. Whatever you do, don’t attempt to turn on the device when it’s still cold.

Let smartphones warm up

hand wearing glove holding smartphone

If your phone shuts down, don’t turn it back on right away. | NemanjaMiscevic/iStock/Getty Images

In the event a smartphone shuts down unexpectedly due to cold weather, don’t hit the power button. “Restarting your phone immediately could actually cause more harm to your phone and actually shorten your battery life,” Jeremy Kwaterski, of CPR Cell Phone Repair, told CNN. Wait until the phone has had a chance to warm up, Kwaterski added.

Smartphones come with temperature specifications

An Iphone 7 Plus

Apple suggests no temperature lower than 32 degrees Fahrenheit. | Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Smartphones come with specifications stating optimum temperatures. The range varies based on the smartphone brand. For example, Apple recommends not operating the iPhone below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But winter temperatures often drop well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, reeking havoc on phones.

Cold weather makes phone screens fragile

illustration of smarthphone with snowy tree branch

Your screen might crack. | izzzy71/iStock/Getty Images

Phone screens become fragile in cold temperatures. And phones riddled with cracks in the screen are even more susceptible to additional cracks. Think of a cracked windshield in the winter. The crack becomes bigger and bigger as time goes on.

Don’t leave your phone in the car

Hand touching screen on smartphone in car

Don’t leave your phone behind. | humonia/iStock/Getty Images

Protect smartphones from frigid winter temperatures by keeping them indoors. This means no leaving phones in the car. “If you do need to leave it behind, turn the phone off instead of just putting it to sleep,” CNN reports. Turning a phone off helps preserve battery life. The best course of action is to remove the phone from a cold place quickly.

Use an insulated phone case

Man with gloves using cellphone outdoors

Any case will offer some protection. | KristinaJovanovic/iStock/Getty Images

Insulated phone cases keep phones warm and batteries working their best. Phone case designs vary. Some are designed like zippered pockets, and others are like a booklet.  

Keep your phone close to your body

woman on a startphone outside

Use your body heat to keep your phone warm. | biglike/iStock/Getty Images

Another way to protect a smartphone in the cold is to keep the device close to the body. Don’t keep your phone in a handbag or on the dashboard of your car. Keep your phone in your pants or coat pocket. If your coat has an inside pocket, place your phone there to keep the device warm using your body heat, Time reports.

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