Last Updated on August 21, 2022 by Dave Farquhar
My wife has a phone that has a nice screen and doesn’t lag. It’s an older model but it’s still a nice phone. Well, except when it’s cold. It turns out it’s not super unheard of when a phone turns off in cold weather. So if your phone dies in cold weather, or shuts off when cold, here’s how we fixed it. It makes sense, once you think about it.
Why your phone shuts off when cold
When she first told me about the problem, I said that’s weird, electronics like cold. My phone has the opposite problem, it overheats in the summer sometimes. But while electronics love cold, batteries don’t. Does your car have a harder time starting in the winter than in the summer? That’s because your battery doesn’t have enough power in cold weather.
So that’s why your phone seems fine, except when you actually try to do something with it, and then it does weird things, like shutting off suddenly. The battery drains really quickly. This explained why her phone was OK if she could plug it in quickly, and she could use it inside, but if she took the phone back out in the cold, it drained again quickly.
We weren’t imagining things. The battery really was dying.
The fix for when your phone dies in cold weather
If your phone dies in cold weather, the fix is simple, if a bit expensive. Get a new battery. That was easier when batteries were user-replaceable, and I know frequently they aren’t anymore. And yes, it’s a fairly significant expense. The battery cost $70, which seems like an awful lot when you can buy a Blu phone for $100. The question is whether your existing phone is better than that Blu phone or not. In this case, it is. It’s quicker and has a nicer screen and camera than a Blu phone, so I think it was worth fixing. Any phone repair shop ought to be able to swap the battery for you. Depending on how common your phone is, they may have to order a battery, but they ought to be able to get one, and swap it in while you wait. There’s a perception that phones aren’t worth fixing when they start giving you problems. But in this case, that’s not always true. Here’s how to know when your phone is worth fixing.
And sometimes phones throttle performance when they have an old battery. That’s a controversial practice, and there have been lawsuits about it. But in addition to getting better battery life in all types of weather, a new battery may make your phone run faster too.
So if your phone turns off in cold weather and it’s more than a couple of years old, it’s almost certainly the battery. Put a new battery in it, and you can probably get a couple more years out of it. It may very well solve other weird issues you are experiencing.
David Farquhar is a computer security professional, entrepreneur, and author. He started his career as a part-time computer technician in 1994, worked his way up to system administrator by 1997, and has specialized in vulnerability management since 2013. He invests in real estate on the side and his hobbies include O gauge trains, baseball cards, and retro computers and video games. A University of Missouri graduate, he holds CISSP and Security+ certifications. He lives in St. Louis with his family.