Smartphones and Extreme Cold

Cold temperatures suck battery life. This is true of car batteries, flashlight batteries, smartphone batteries and others. Cold also affects liquid crystal displays on smartphones. Recently, Popular Mechanics conducted experiments to find out exactly how cold is too cold for a smartphone.
At about 10F, some smartphone screens get dimmer and become harder to read. When temperatures fall to -10F, battery problems begin. At about -20F, most phones begin shutting down. When temperatures reach -30F, smartphones start having critical battery problems and issues with LED displays. By -40F, most phones become inoperable. One notable exception is the iPhone 4, which has faced serious consumer backlash because it ceases functioning at temperatures below freezing. But you’ll never have this problem using 4G cell phones like Droid or Blackberry devices.

Low temperatures are also associated with high elevations. Most smartphone manufacturers recommend using the phone at altitudes of 10,000 feet or lower. All of the phones tested resumed normal operations once the phone warmed up, so even if you find a lifeless, useless smartphone in your vehicle, don’t despair. Just allow it to warm slowly and it should be fine.

Smartphones and Extreme Heat

Cold isn’t as damaging as heat to electronics, and smartphones are no exception. Most cell phone manufacturers recommend using phones at temperatures below 95F and storing the phone at temperatures below 85F. On a warm, sunny day, car interiors can quickly reach 140F.

Electronics experts warn that catastrophic damage isn’t the only thing to worry about when you leave your smartphone in a blistering hot automobile, however. Exposure to extreme temperatures can cause damage that isn’t readily noticeable, but shortens the lifespan of the phone and lowers its functionality.

Hidden Dangers on Cold Days

On a sunny winter day, you might be worried about cold hurting your smartphone. But the exact opposite may be true. On a bright day it’s possible for car interiors to rise well above 100F, even if it’s below freezing outside. Phones left on the dashboard, car seat or anywhere in the direct sunlight are particularly vulnerable.

It’s a good idea to make a habit of keeping your phone in the console or glove box while you’re driving. This way, if you forget and leave your phone in the car, it’s protected from the most intense heat. If your phone gets extremely hot, allow it to cool gradually to a safe operating temperature and wait at least 30 minutes to power it back up.

What’s the Worst Thing for Smartphones?

More dangerous than cold or heat is moisture. If you leave your phone in the car on a humid day, the humidity can cause the phone to corrode. Actually, pure water is almost harmless to electronics, but most water is full of impurities to clog electronics and eventually corrode the phone. Always dry phones completely before powering them back up.