- by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 2/7/2023
Winter is not a great time for cell phones. Cold temperatures have a negative impact on your phone's battery, which can lead to unexpected shutdowns. Here are answers to a few of the most commonly asked questions about how cold affects your cell phone's performance.
Cold slows down the chemical reactions that take place within a battery, lowering its ability to store and move energy. This is true of almost all batteries, however, cell phones have lithium-ion batteries inside them and lithium reacts very poorly to the cold.
When the temperature drops, it lowers the amount of power that your phone's battery can provide and causes it to drain more quickly. If the temperature drops low enough, the liquid electrolytes inside it can freeze. Once that happens, the battery can no longer provide energy to your phone, which causes it to shut down.
Cold weather can also cause your touch screen to become less responsive. This is particularly true with LCD screens. LCD screens use liquid crystal molecules that are impacted by cold weather. Some common issues include delayed touchscreen reactions, as well as smudging or ghosting of images.
The term chemical aging refers to a combination of factors that impact your battery's overall lifespan. These factors include the number of charge cycles the battery has gone through and how well the battery has been cared for.
As a lithium-ion battery begins to chemically age, the amount of charge it's capable of holding will decrease, resulting in a shorter performance before it needs to be recharged. For this reason, a chemically aged battery will not perform as well in the cold as a new battery.
If your phone has shut down due to cold weather, the impact on your battery is only temporary. Permanent damage can occur, however, if you attempt to charge your phone at freezing temperatures.
Charging lithium-ion batteries at sub-freezing temperatures causes a buildup of lithium on the battery's anode known at lithium plating. The accumulation of lithium plating can permanently degrade your battery's capacity. Because of this, you should never attempt to charge your phone in an environment that is colder than 32℉.
There's no set temperature at which a phone will start to malfunction. Your phone's performance in winter conditions depends largely on the health of the battery itself. If your battery has experienced chemical aging, it will be more susceptible to the impact of cold. As a general rule though, users should try to keep their phones between 32℉ and 95℉.
If your phone is getting too cold, you want to raise the temperature safely. Never attempt to warm up your phone by placing it onto a source of direct heat. Here are some other things you can do to help save power and keep your phone from crashing in the cold:
Despite our best efforts, accidents do happen. If your phone has a dying battery, a broken screen or some other issue, bring it to the experts at your nearest Batteries Plus location. Our stores offer fast, convenient cell phone repair service for your Apple, Samsung or other major brand device. Learn more about what we fix, then stop in or schedule your appointment online today.