Freezing cold doesn't have to freeze your phone.
A cold phone is soon to be a dead phone.
You've likely had your phone shut off prematurely when it showed you still had a 30% charge left, right? Unfortunately, it’s a law of consumer electronics and one we know all too well when faced with a deep freeze. The problem is that your device isn't taking into account how chilly it has become, and it's miscalculating the remaining charge. Devices are calibrated for conditions on the warmer side, so those battery numbers aren't going to be that reliable outside in winter.
Global News aired a report about the effects of cold weather on smartphones, with a 13% drop in battery power for a phone left out in the cold compared to one cozied up inside. Considering how much we rely on our phones wherever we go, whether sitting in the car console, tucked in a pocket as we're skating outside or playing some pick-up on outdoor rinks, those extra percentages may go a long way to staying connected.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to hold a charge while you battle the elements. Keep your device’s battery powered up through the winter with these tips and tricks:
1. Bundle up with the right cold weather gear
Phones are no different from people — the most obvious solution to keeping warm is to dress warmly.
Some phone cases, like the NASA-inspired ones by Salt, boast cold-resistant fabric that keeps your device at an ideal operating temperature. But when you’re in a pinch, something less space-age should do. An online search for wool cases, for instance, will yield many different functional (and fashionable) options that work great when you need that added layer of warmth.
Also, mind where you’re keeping your phone. If it’s in a bag, it’ll likely get cold a lot quicker. Keep it in a jacket pocket, or better yet, somewhere it can benefit from old-fashioned body heat.
2. Monitor your battery consumption a little more in winter
This is an important tip for any time of the year, but it’s especially crucial during the frigid winter months. Many apps and services on your device may be running in the background without you even using them. While this can often be a useful feature for apps that require your location, it can also quickly drain your battery.
iOS and Android both have ways to enable or disable background and location services for apps:
iOS (iPhone and iPad)
- To turn off background services: Head to Settings > General > Background App Refresh
- To turn off location services: Head to Settings > Privacy > Location Services. You can choose to either turn off location services completely or customize which apps can use the feature and when.
- Android devices running 5.0 Lollipop include an automatic battery-saving feature that will kick in when your battery is getting low. To enable it, open Settings, Battery, and select Battery Saver under the three-dot menu in the upper corner.
iOS and Android also provide a detailed list of which apps are consuming the most power:
- On iOS, head to Settings, General, Usage, Battery Usage.
- On Android, head to Settings, Battery.
3. Have a backup plan
When your phone’s battery does give out, it’s nice to have a backup solution. Portable battery packs have replaced thumb drives as the most indispensable accessory to carry, and they provide some peace of mind when you know you’ll be needing your phone for long stretches at a time.
Portable USB batteries are available in a wide range of sizes and prices, fitting every need and budget. They also come with varying features, including multiple ports and built-in connectors for iPhone and Android devices.
And as our reader Wojtek commented (see comments section), portable battery packs aren't the only game in town to help get a charge wherever you may be. Some handy gadgets help eliminate cables and keep you clutter free. Perhaps none stand out as much as the ChargeCard from Nomad — it’s a credit card-sized USB charging cable that easily fits in a wallet.
Do you have any other tips to deal with a cold phone? Let us know in the comments below.