How to keep your phone (and fingers) from freezing this winter

Best Touchscreen Gloves for Winter
Best Touchscreen Gloves for Winter (Image credit: Luke Filipowicz / iMore)

Although Christmas has come and gone and we are securely into 2018, many of us still have to deal with a few months of cold, snowy, and windy weather. Using your phone outdoors can be tricky — and potentially dangerous — if you live in a city that can get colder than the surface of Mars (like I do).

Personal experience is the best experience

Yes, I live in a city where it occasionally gets colder than the surface of Mars. Winnipeg — "Winterpeg" for the pun enthusiasts — has some pretty harsh weather during the winter months, and although we locals like to think it make us extra tough, it can really suck to use your phone outdoors during the cold months.

Last year, around this time, I was doing some social media work for a local minor hockey team and they were having an outdoor game as part of a fundraiser. I can't remember exactly how cold it was, but I can tell you I was wearing three sweaters, two jackets, three different types of pants, and about 3 pairs of socks; I was still cold. As the game was starting, I started snapping pictures with my DSLR, sending them to my iPhone, and posting on the teams' social media accounts.

Before the first period was even halfway over — less than 10 mins for those less sports-inclined folks — my fully charged iPhone 5S was at 10% battery life and I had gotten some mild frostbite on my fingers from using my phone. It sucked.

The sub-zero temperatures aren't only bad news for your hands and fingers, but cold is no friend to your device's battery either. In fact, you can do some real damage to your iPhone's battery if you try charging it while it's cold. Here's a short and sweet guide to keeping your iPhone and hands warm this winter.

Protect your battery from the cold

Lithium-ion batteries are commonplace in many devices, and they're also the same type of battery that your iPhone uses. Without going down a technical rabbit hole, these batteries rely on a chemical reaction to produce power and charge; when they get cold, that chemical reaction slows down, causing your battery to perform poorly.

The easiest way to prevent the cold weather from negatively impacting your phone's performance is to keep your iPhone as warm as possible. If you plan to venture out into the cold this winter with your phone, do your best to keep it warm — especially if you're going out for a significant length of time. Try putting your phone into an inside coat pocket or under a layer or two to keep it nice and toasty when your life takes you into the winter wind!

Apple has a few handy tips for maximizing your battery's performance, and recently, the company explained why older iPhones can experience a slow down in performance due to cold conditions.

Never charge a cold battery

Wireless Charging on iPhone

Wireless Charging on iPhone (Image credit: iMore)

If you do end up leaving your phone in the car one night or spending too long outside with your iPhone exposed to the elements, make sure you let it warm up before you charge it. I know it may be tempting to plug it in right away — especially if it's dead — but charging a cold battery can really screw it up. Give your iPhone sometime to warm up before you go plugging it into the wall.

Touchscreen gloves are lifesavers!

Last year, I bought my first pair of touchscreen gloves and I haven't looked back since. It has made winter so much more bearable by allowing me to answer important text messages, check what time the bus is coming, or call a cab all without freezing my fingers off.

There are plenty of styles of touchscreen gloves out there, and even though they may cost you a little bit of money, I promise you they are worth the price!

Best Touchscreen Gloves for Winter 2017

Luke Filipowicz
Staff Writer

Luke Filipowicz has been a writer at iMore, covering Apple for nearly a decade now. He writes a lot about Apple Watch and iPad but covers the iPhone and Mac as well. He often describes himself as an "Apple user on a budget" and firmly believes that great technology can be affordable if you know where to look. Luke also heads up the iMore Show — a weekly podcast focusing on Apple news, rumors, and products but likes to have some fun along the way. 

Luke knows he spends more time on Twitter than he probably should, so feel free to follow him or give him a shout on social media @LukeFilipowicz.