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Why your iPhone may suddenly switch off in cold weather

Why your iPhone may suddenly switch off in cold weather
© Donka Zheleva | Dreamstime

On a cold morning, we all have issues getting moving. But the weather can affect your gadgets too! And I'm not talking about your laptop getting stuck out in a rainstorm, of course, that will not go over well!

There has been a rash of complaints lately about iPhones not performing out in the cold. Some people claim their phones are just flat out turning off.

That's annoying, so what gives!?

Did you read the fine print?

After doing a little digging, Apple seems to know this happens. From their support page, they have this advice.

"Use iOS devices where the ambient temperature is between 0º and 35º C (32º to 95º F). Low- or high-temperature conditions might cause the device to change its behavior to regulate its temperature. Using an iOS device in very cold conditions outside of its operating range might temporarily shorten battery life and could cause the device to turn off. Battery life will return to normal when you bring the device back to higher ambient temperatures."

Now here's the cool answer!

It comes down to what's inside the phone and specifically the battery. Lithium-ion batteries need a way for the positive Lithium ions to move between the cathode and anode.

OK, sorry that was really science heavy, but it is basically the positive(+) and negative(-) electrodes. So those ions flow in an electrolyte liquid.

Here's the problem with the cold, the liquid in the battery will freeze! And a frozen battery means no juice. Once you bring it back inside, it will thaw and allow the ions to flow, powering your phone.

How to prevent it from happening

The easiest thing to do is to keep your phone out of the cold (iPhones love an Arizona winter I hear). But seriously, an inside pocket, close to your body will help. Also, not leaving it in your car at night will help.

Now to the good news, the cold won't damage your battery permanently. On the other end of the thermometer, extreme heat can also damage your device. So try to keep it comfortable, between 32 degrees F and 95 degrees F.

Is your phone completely broken?

If your phone or tablet for that matter ends up dead, there are ways you can recover some data. But trust me, read this before you have a problem and you will be better off if something happens.

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