Why does my iphone die in the cold

Here’s Why Your iPhone Battery Dies in Cold Weather (And How You Can Stop It)

 

February was the coldest month that many parts of Ontario and Quebec have felt in a really long time, with Extreme Cold warnings becoming almost business as usual.

One effect of cold weather is poor battery performance – it’s possible for your iPhone to suddenly die despite reporting 30% battery life left. So why is it that your iPhone battery dies in cold weather?

Winter weather can be beautiful, but a dead iPhone is a sad thing

Winter weather can be beautiful, but a dead iPhone is a sad thing

The iPhone Battery

All iPhones use a type of battery called Lithium-Ion (sometimes abbreviated Li-ion). This is the most common battery technology found in rechargeable devices.

Li-ion batteries carry certain advantages – they charge fairly quickly and don’t need to be completely depleted before recharging (in fact, it’s better to recharge at 20% then waiting for your phone to die). Unfortunately, these batteries don’t do so well when the temperature outside drops.

Lithium-Ion batteries suffer in extreme cold temperatures:

According to Battery University, cold temperature “increases the internal resistance and diminishes the capacity” of a Li-ion battery. Specifically, they estimate that at -18 degrees Celcius a Li-ion may only deliver 50% of its capacity.

During last winter’s Polar Vortex, Global news did an experiment which showed an iPhone left outside dropped 14% in only 30 minutes, while an identical phone left inside dropped only 1%.

Apple specifies that their batteries work best at a range of 0 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius. While we almost never reach the upper range in Canada, temperatures below freezing are typical for the winter months.

battery dies in cold weather but not at room temperature

Because the battery meter is calibrated assuming warmer temperatures, the reduced capacity in the cold can cause the reading to be unreliable. This is one of the reasons your phone may die while still showing 30%.

Keep your phone alive as long as possible

To keep your phone working as long as possible while it’s cold outside, the best think you can do is to keep it warm.  Avoid exposing it to the cold air unless absolutely necessary. This means keep it in a warm pocket – your hands will thank you too (it’s too cold to be walking and texting anyway!)

A case may help the phone retain some heat as well, just like a coat keeps you warm in the cold weather.

If all else fails, you may want to bring an external charger with you when it’s extra cold just in case your phone unexpectedly dies on you mid-day.

iphone battery dies in cold weatherWe suggest checking out the Anker PowerCore+ mini, which can add over 14 hours of battery life to your iPhone.

Update: January, 2016:

If it is more than just cold weather…

It’s no secret that your phone’s short battery life might be the result of something more than bad weather. Apple has gone so far as to launch a battery replacement program for the iPhone 5.

This is why we focus so much of our quality testing on battery life— every used iPhone has been tested to ensure a healthy battery. Check out our inventory here.

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62 comments

  • Al 8 May, 2015   Reply →

    I don’t, for many of us, this is the issue. The battery (for me and many others apparently when doing searches on this issue) simply cuts off, it doesn’t drain. For example, i went out running the other night, yes it was cold, probably 10C, and the phone was at 80%. I was out for 30 min and it just shut down. Showing at least 65%. Got home, plugged it in, and when it finally started up, showed 65%. I think it has more to do with the cold affecting the sensor that reads the battery charge..then again, i don’t know anything techy, so I could be full of crap. But I can tell you with certainty, it is NOT draining, it’s simply shutting off.

    • Orchard 11 May, 2015   Reply →

      Good point, Al. We’ve seen the battery drain quickly and also experience those random shut offs. It’s most common when the phone reaches about 20% battery. The long and short of it is that these phones are designed to read batteries at a certain temperature and too much cold does affect how accurate it is. How wonky the battery acts depends on your phone and climate. Luckily we’re firmly past Winter here in Toronto so we’ll have a break from these issues.

    • Doug Bishop 19 January, 2016   Reply →

      I live in Alaska and use my 5S down into cold temperatures for brief periods. It does shut down when too cold as described….with 80+% battery remaining. Recently it seems to be shutting down more often and more suceptible to cold. I was skiing at about 35% and it couldn’t deal with that. Does this get worse with age? The phone is nearly 2 yrs old but in great shape.

    • Anthony 19 January, 2016   Reply →

      Im assuming the issue of it suddenly shutting off isn’t about the cold draining the battery, however the cold increases resistance in the battery. Which is why the phone would suddenly shut off because electrons are moving so slowly that the battery is no longer detected. But once it warms back up, the resistance returns to normal and you still have the charge you always had. The electrons are just able to move at their normal rate now to be detected.

      • steve 2 November, 2016   Reply →

        … you do know that resistance is related in direct proportion to temperatures (in normal resistors) right? heating a copper wire increases it’s resistance and limits the amount of electrons that can go through it.

    • Kaitlyn 24 March, 2016   Reply →

      exact same thing. Living in Canada, I wouldn’t even say temps are cold, not even at freezing, but if it is in my outer pocket or in my hand for longer than a few minutes, it shuts off. So I Can literally only listen to music when I am outside in the Winter. Dies if I dare do anything else.
      Seriously turning me off apple.

    • saki 22 November, 2016   Reply →

      I totally agree with you. My iphone has the same symptom, as well as my old iphone, which is iphone 4S. I believe this is iphone’s long lasting issue Apple never resolved. I had other kinds, HTC and Sony but they did not shut off in cold weather like iphones.

    • Julia 29 December, 2016   Reply →

      When my phone shuts off I know that it doesn’t dies and that it just shuts off. If it shuts off and I saw it still had a lot of battery I know it didn’t drain the battery. If you want to get your phone to turn on all you have to do is warm your phone up. If it doesn’t turn on at first you just need to keep warming it up.

    • Gordy 30 December, 2016   Reply →

      I’m with Al on this. I was skiing and pulled my iPhone out, had it on just long enough to see I was at 96% when it died. Plugged it into the portable power I have gotten into the habit of bringing with me everywhere I go, and it came back to life at 96%. This has happened to me DOZENS of times (which is why I have portable power with me everywhere I go). Every time it comes back to life at whatever battery life it was at before it died. It is not draining, it is simply shutting off. This has nothing to do with the battery.

    • James 29 January, 2017   Reply →

      Same thing is happening with me

  • Corey 19 December, 2015   Reply →

    I had the same problem while working in the garage and I live in Vancouver. The battery said there was still 50% and it just shut off. The only thing that showed on the screen is the icon to plug/charge the phone to a charger. So I brought it inside and did a reset (holding the power and home buttons at the same time), it came back and showed the battery back at 50%. I didn’t even have to plug it in or charge it. There is definitely something strange about these batteries in colder temperatures.

  • Dave Delaney 11 January, 2016   Reply →

    I’ve been wondering about this lately too. Looks like the weather and Apple has saved me from falling down a manhole, I suppose. Still, it would be good to get through an entire podcast episode as I walk the dog. Oh well. Silence is golden too.

  • Jim Young 11 January, 2016   Reply →

    Same for me. I was out running in NYC, it was -6C outside and I had my phone in my jacket pocket. The jacket was light so I guess the iPhone bore the brunt of the cold and got a bit of wind chill too since I was running. At 54% I took it out to take a picture and it shut off. After my run I went inside and warmed it up with my hands and it was back where it shut off at 54%. I haven’t seen any adverse effects since.

  • Ddo 14 January, 2016   Reply →

    Same here. Got back indoors and still had 55%. Apple should do recall!

  • John 18 January, 2016   Reply →

    I believe one of the culprits for this poor battery life is the much vaunted glass and metal construction. This is just speculation on my part, but metal is a better conductor of heat, so I believe the iPhone battery gets colder more quickly. I also experience the random shutoffs where the battery is back at 45% once I plug it in. My plastic Galaxy S5 does not behave in this manner. My Galaxy has only failed once due to cold weather, it was last year during a windy polar vortex with temperatures south of -20, and I had spend all day outside. It failed at the end of the day. My iPhone fails regularly in temps below -5

  • golfswkr 23 January, 2016   Reply →

    We are having a blizzard here today in New Jersey with a wind chill of 11 degrees. I just finished a run and the battery cut out. I wonder if I put a heavy sock in the dryer and (after I take it out of the dryer) I put the iPhone into the sock and put it in my jacket pocket, that would prevent it from shutting off. I will try it tomorrow and let you know.

    • Orchard 25 January, 2016   Reply →

      Definitely interested to hear your results!

  • Brandon 23 January, 2016   Reply →

    Same thing here. I had my truck doors open with the heater still running as I had to work on a door panel. The iphone was sitting in the center console. When I went to get it all I had was the need for charge symbol. After plugging it in it immediately showed 65%. My wife’s android phone which also has an Lithium ion battery was just as cold and worked fine. I think this is an apple issue, not a weather issue.

  • WillyWonka 23 January, 2016   Reply →

    jeez, is this the same deal with the iPhone 6 models? obviously not an option for people who live in the mountains where its almost always freezing, and 32° is considered warm!

  • Rich 25 January, 2016   Reply →

    Same thing. I had an 80% charge when I went ice fishing in northern VT. It was 5F outside and had the phone in my coat pocket. I took one picture, then it died. When I attempted to turn it on, it showed the graphic to charge it. When I got back to my truck, I plugged in the charger, and it immediately started showing 80% battery life. Bottom line is, iPhone is not designed for the cold. My buddy had a Samsung Galaxy S5. It stayed charged all day and he had it in the cold playing music for hours. Time for an upgrade.

  • tony 27 January, 2016   Reply →

    same here. I was ski at around -3 and the iphone 6 shuts down and all my friends IPhones and Android phones were fine. Something is wrong with the battery

  • Jeff 29 January, 2016   Reply →

    My 5S does the same thing and it’s very irritating. I think all of the metal iPhones have this issue. Maybe the metal casing is cooling the phone too much. It’s nice having an aluminum bodied cellphone for the light weight and durability but maybe that’s one reason why Steve Jobs canned that idea after the first iPhone.

  • Clockwork 11 February, 2016   Reply →

    My 5s is cutting off at 90% when I’m heading to school. (I live out in west ny) this isn’t the big problem though. Once in the summer. I put sim cards into both my 4s and 5s. I used the 4s all day, with my 5s off and at the end of the day, I turned my 5s on, and it was at 30% even though I turned it off at 97%. My 4s was at 80% after constant use. I can’t go back to my 4s, because it has no touch sensor.

  • Karen 11 February, 2016   Reply →

    I’ve attempted to pull a piece of wool around my iPhone 6S and slip it into a sleeve that then goes into my pocket on very cold days (20s and below) to stop it from shutting down, but that hasn’t worked yet. I do have a Mophie case on it and will turn it on and put it in all the other stuff today on my hike. Hoping that will make a difference. It is 18 degrees outside, not including the windchill.

    • jmar11 14 February, 2016   Reply →

      how did the mophie work in the cold? I am thinking about getting one because of this cold weather issue.

      thanks

      • Karen 18 February, 2016   Reply →

        So far, so good when outdoors in the teens and low wind chills. I don’t keep the phone out long, just long enough to switch an app. The combo I mentioned in my above post seems to be working well. There’s a new Mophie case out. Waterproof, all-encompassing, much like a Lifeproof case. Cost is approximately $130. May purchase it for my winter sports.

      • Karen 18 February, 2016   Reply →

        I should mention that I’m outside for an hour to an hour and a half at a time and my iPhone is out there with me the entire time. It would shut down all the time until I started turning on my Mophie battery, wrapping that piece of wool around it, then sliding it into a phone sleeve and dropping into my pocket. I agree, though. It should not shut down when we’re outside in any weather. My kids have androids, Galaxy phones to be specific, and they never mentioned them shutting down.

        • Karen 18 February, 2016   Reply →

          Teens with near zero wind chill. I’d suggest looking at the new Mophie case. I had read that turning on the battery keeps the phone warm…And I’m sure all the other layers of protection I have around it keep it warm.

  • Simon 12 February, 2016   Reply →

    Today as I’m walking to my bus (-15) I had 43% and just as I got on the bus … Shutdown with plug in image. Warmed it under my armpits ( that’s what you do for feostbitten limbs as it’s the warmest part of the body ) and bahm. It was back at 43%. My phone is an iPhone4s so this is not a model problem. This is defentily an apple design problem that has been going on for the past 5 years without any fix. Do these all have li-ion batteries. Why would the galaxy not have the same problem if they use the same battery. Once again it must be a flaw in the design that keeps getting reproduced. I bet you this issue will still occure on next gen iPhones.

    • Simon 12 February, 2016   Reply →

      Oh and it’s time for a new phone. Because 1- it’s old and 2- in an emergency situation I want my 43% charged phone to be working for a 911 call rather then be faced with a plug me in window. My opinion.

  • Jay Donahue 16 February, 2016   Reply →

    I was videoing skateboarding over at Love Park
    here in philly during the last days before the renovation. It was freezing and my phone would shut off within a minute
    of being out of my pocket, despite reporting a decent amount of charge left. It was so ridiculous that I ended up putting the phone in my underwear, by my crotch, between clips as that was the warmest place I could think of on my body at the time. it would start back up when I pulled it out, but only last a minute or two before shutting down again. super frustrating!

  • Mike 16 February, 2016   Reply →

    Incredibly frustrated with my iPhone6. Its useless skiing. Its been cutting out at 35deg F. They ran diagnostics at the Apple Store and said its fine, and basically admitted that this is a problem. I ski 30-40 days a year, including days when I’m supposed to be at work, and having a phone that won’t work is unacceptable. So… I’ll be ditching my iPhone and trying to find something else. Amazing that in this day and age they can’t identify such a basic design flaw before putting something into production.

    • tony 18 February, 2016   Reply →

      same here, I try to use my iPhone during ski and the phone turns off and it was only properly -5 degree.
      I am think to go with Andriod phone LG or Samsung

  • Gillyj 18 February, 2016   Reply →

    My family had two iPhone 6’s turn off today; at the time the outside temperature was 42 degrees F. One is in an Otterbox and the battery was at 35% when it shutdown, the other is in a basic case, and shutdown with 25% battery left. I can understand non mil spec devices shutting down below freezing, but low 42 F is far from freezing as far as I’m concerned.

    This is the first time I have experienced this. And it was within a day of upgrading to IOS 9.2.1

    Has anyone else had this issue with temp well above freezing? If yes, what version of iOS are you running?

  • a-a-ron 19 February, 2016   Reply →

    I have both a 5s and a 6s+…….In the conditions I face as a Pro-snowboarder (always being on the snow or in the colder weather) the 6s shuts off after about 5-10 seconds of any cold air hitting it….which is bullsh*t, as much as those cost, it should work while buried inside an avalanche. The 5s last longer, I can usually make it through about 4 hours of riding (pulling it out of my pocket every 20-30 minutes to check and/or make updates on social media.
    Apple needs to get this figured out now. or business will continue to fade for them.

  • Caroline 16 March, 2016   Reply →

    My phone died on me today here in Oslo, it was 12-14 degrees Celsius and quite warm for this time of year.. My phone has died a lot during the winter in anything from 0 degrees to -15 degrees, but not in this “warm” temperature. I don’t get why it does that?

  • Rich 19 March, 2016   Reply →

    I’m having the same issue with my 6s, but have never had it with any of my previous models. I was going to take it into the genius bar as my girlfriend’s 6s doesn’t seem to have the problem. Mine will happen with the temperature in the 40’s. And will continue to have problems once inside and warmed up. Seems odd. Just flat shuts off.

  • alan 25 March, 2016   Reply →

    Ditto here. My iPhone 6 shuts off after 5 minutes exposure at 0 Celsius (32 F). I have tried warming it up to revive it, but that didn’t work; I had to plug t in again. Charge was 30 percent. This happened several times. I brought it into the Apple store. They did a battery check and said it was fine.

  • Jeff 27 March, 2016   Reply →

    Same here. iPhone 6. Just getting hit by my AC vents in the car will knock it out. Comes back eventually with the same charge it previously. I don’t recall this happening with any previous model, but I used cases on every previous model, so who knows.

  • Rodrigo 3 April, 2016   Reply →

    i live in Boston and i have a iPhone 6 plus and is always shutting down at cold temperatures. today i was going to the park and my mother wanted to me to take some photos and when I was taking the first photo it shut down!!!!!!

  • Kian 5 April, 2016   Reply →

    I live in the UK. Obviously temp will differ, bur I have had the same problems on the iPhone 5C amd my current phone, an iPhone 6. This makes me think that, while temp can affect the life of the battery, but also that the batteries are incorrectly calibrated with the rest of the hardware, as I can go out of a normal morning, it’s about 5-10 C and I leave the house with 100%. Within 25-35 minutes, my iPhone is reading 66% or thereabouts. When i then check it again, it shows 20%. I then unlock the phone to activate Low Power Mode, and it suddenly dies, while still showing 20%.

  • Raman 4 July, 2016   Reply →

    I live in Canada and my I have iPhone 5. My iPhone is getting cold in winter and hot in summer(and shutoff) .

  • nevermind 11 October, 2016   Reply →

    I WANT TO TAKE A NICE PIC OF WINTER, OR MAKE A VIDEO OF SKIING??? HOW? ITS SHUT OFF.. YOU EVEN CAN’T ANSWER THE PHONE IN THE COLD BECAUSE IT WILL DIES ANYWAY :DDDD

  • Andrew Black 22 November, 2016   Reply →

    I am a snowmobilier if I leave my phone plugged in to a charging accessory while on the trail will my phone function in the cold?

  • George 15 December, 2016   Reply →

    Tested in winter in black sea (Western Europe) with two iphones 6, at -1 degree celsius. The batteries died. Samsung galaxy S6, -15 degrees celsius works very well, and looks it can handle more low temperatures. Iphone is not at all a right phone for cold places.

  • Karen 30 December, 2016   Reply →

    I have the 6 as well and I go out for a jog everyday and now I can’t take the my iPhone out of my pocket or it shuts off…the real problem is that i have really bad asthma and need the phone to work! I had an asthma attack today and normally, I call someone to talk to me and be able to come get me if needed. APPLE… PLEASE FIX THIS BEFORE SOMEONE GETS HURT AND IT COULD HAVE BEEN PERVENTED!!

    • Frankie 25 February, 2017   Reply →

      Hi Karen,
      I also have bad asthma…& an iphone.
      Carrying an asthma spray might help. I even have a few cortisone tablets in my pocket when I go out for longer periods. I think I understand your point, (in an emergency you want your mobile to work) – but having a mobile phone shouldn’t cancel-out being responsible & also prepared, most especially if you have bad asthma…& like to jog alone in remote or thinly populated areas…in the cold…& can only afford an iphone. 😉
      It’s annoying if your mobile doesn’t work when you really need it – but honestly, if your life becomes suddenly (& easily) threatened without one, you might consider reevaluating your priorities &/or habits. Cheers!

  • Olivia 4 January, 2017   Reply →

    Today I went skiing with my friends. when we went inside my phone had under 30% and shut off as soon as i opened an app on my phone. My phone hasn’t come on after that and it’s been now about an hour and a half inside in the warmth and I’ve been charging it the whole time. My phone is an Iphone 6s and fairly new. I can’t afford to buy a new one so I really hope that it’ll turn on soon. My Macbook doesn’t recognise it either witch makes me worried. (When I was skiing it was around -18° celsius witch is pretty cold). Thankful for answers 🙂

  • Madhumita 5 January, 2017   Reply →

    I use an iPhone 6s and have the same problem. Recently is just shuts down even when I am inside my home at 22 C. I have known it to shutdown in winters when it gets to below 0 C in Stockholm. But shutting down in room temperature is totally putting me off iPhone. I agree with karen, I am a single mother and need to be in touch with my kid. This doesn’t help at all.

  • Oana 14 January, 2017   Reply →

    Hi, my iphone SE shut down also when temperature was around -1celsius. I warmed it between my hands, turned it on but after a second it shut down again. If it’s the case design that makes them shut off I wonder if owners of iphone 5C have the same problem as the case is of different material than the other models.

  • Thomas 17 January, 2017   Reply →

    Ya, my company issued iPhone 6 Plus shuts off after being outside for 5 minutes in 40°F weather, but my Android LG Stylo 2 plays me Pandora and answers calls all day in -10°F weather. Iphones are junk!

    I also love that I can easily replace the battery and memory on my personal phone.

  • J Strong 19 January, 2017   Reply →

    This is an Apple phone issue. It may be hardware and/or software issue in their phones.

    It happens after the battery has been recharged many times. I think after charging a couple hundred of times is fairly typical. I have seen some graphs generated on the issue. Each phone is impacted differently depending on your charging habits. If you replace the battery it will address the problem but Apple should issue a recall.

    This is a pervasive issue but Apple refuses to address it. Apparently it impacts the iPhone 6, 6s and 7 (some models). Apple will replace the battery on certain 6s models but only certain serial numbers.

    On my phone it has issues at 40 degrees F and lower and at about 30% charge.

    It is not as bad as catching on fire but definitely a major defect. With the amount of money they charge for their phones they should offer at least one battery replacement in the life of each impacted phone. I think because it may be a hardware issue they may not be able to fix the problem unless they replace the whole phone depending on the component with the problem.

    Do the right thing Apple.

  • Tyler 16 February, 2017   Reply →

    That’s really interesting. I wonder what is really going on inside of the device to make this occur.
    I’m glad to have discovered the problem though.

  • Frankie 25 February, 2017   Reply →

    My partner’s iphone is new, mine is 2+ years older & both react the same – as soon as the temperature outside dropped to freezing & reguardless of the battery status, the iphone shuts itself off, shortly displaying the blinking, empty battery symbol until getting it into a warmer enviroment for, let’s say around 10-20 minutes. Battery does not appear to have been drained & normal functions thereafter unaffected. And yeah, I’ve asked my friends who don’t have an iphone & they usually quite smirkingly reply that they’ve had no such problems.
    Other than that, we both like our phones…but also think that for what you invest into your iphone, this battery problem really shouldn’t exsist. Iphone would be fair to do a replacement/recall, but who here really believes they will or has really tried? That would interest me…

    • Frankie 25 February, 2017   Reply →

      *that is, if it really is “a battery problem”.

  • Tony 15 July, 2017   Reply →

    I have a plastic case iPhone 5C which suffers the same problems. This is not below 0C, but close to freezing. If I pull the phone out of my pocket to take photos or similar, it will shut down completely in less than a minute, despite charge being around 50%. I now always carry a back-up USB charger to boost the phone. This fixes it and I can continue taking photos in cold weather. But it’s a real pain and I shouldn’t need to do this. It looks like Apple didn’t carry out full and proper environmental testing before releasing these phones.

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