A smartphone that is exposed to the cold can experience some short-term problems, but there is rarely any lasting damage if you take care of the phone quickly. Cold and any accompanying condensation damage can be fixed by turning your phone off and letting it dry completely; after this, it should function normally. Don't try to use your phone until it returns to room temperature.
Turn Off Phone
If your phone was left in the cold for a long time, and you suspect it may be damaged, turn off the phone immediately. This is important if your phone has been exposed to cold for a long period of time unprotected -- without a case or without being in your clothing -- but even more important if it has been sitting in the cold overnight. Make sure the phone is off and not just put to sleep. Turning it off prevents major damage if your phone has accumulated any moisture.
Let Phone Warm
Bring your phone inside into a warm, dry environment. Instead of trying to warm your phone quickly, let it sit and acclimate to the temperature of the room. It may take a few hours for the phone to warm up both inside and out. If you have a sliding or flip phone, open it to increase airflow. If the phone's design permits it, remove the back cover and battery.
Prevent Condensation Damage
Apart from the cold, condensation can cause serious additional damage. If you left your phone out in a humid environment or if you can see the effects of the condensation -- like moisture under the screen -- keep your phone turned off until it is completely dry. In this case, put your phone in a bag of white rice or silica gel packets for a day or longer to absorb the moisture. Only when you are sure your phone is dry should you turn it on.
Possible Cold Effects
Your phone will probably not suffer any major or long-term damage from exposure to the cold unless the cold is severe. However, it can experience short-term problems. Cell phone batteries do not last as long in the cold weather, and your battery life meter may be inaccurate. Your phone may shut off suddenly and not turn back on, although you only need to warm it up for it to continue operating as usual. Your screen has a higher chance of shattering in the cold, so keep it protected in a case or be extra careful when using it.
- International Business Times: 5 Effects of Extreme Cold on Smartphones; How to Protect Your iPhone or Android Device From the Elements
- CNN Tech: How to Protect Your Phone in Cold Weather
- The New York Times: When Your Smartphone Shuts Down From the Cold
- Ars Technica: The Best Ways to Dry Out a Cell Phone
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