Web Culture

Winter Is Coming: Using A Smartphone Or Tablet In Extreme Weather Conditions

Christian Cawley 15-11-2012

extreme weather appHere in my small box room on the North Yorkshire coast in North East England, I regularly witness heavy rain, high winds and icy weather battering the commuters and every day folk as they go about their business. I must admit to a guilty smugness as I watch them scurrying around as I make my 6 foot commute from bedroom to office, knowing that I won’t be buffeted by winds, threatened by ice and snow or drenched by the rain.


Of course, it isn’t always like this. From time to time I have to venture outside and this can mean using my phone, tablet or even (in rare cases) a laptop to get work done while in transit.

Extremes of weather can wreak havoc on digital hardware, so it pays to be aware of just what you need to do to keep using your smartphone on extremely hot days, heavy rain and freezing cold weather.

It’s So Cold!

When you’re freezing in your hat and scarf and need to use your phone, the usual method is to hold the phone in one gloved hand and pull the other glove off with your teeth before dialling a number or messaging someone.

There are several steps to keep in mind when it comes to using a smartphone in cold weather. To start with, keep the device charged up as cold temperatures can cause the battery to run down more quickly. In addition, make sure you have a car charger handy and keep the battery topped up in case you run into trouble on the road.

extreme weather app


Drops in temperature can affect the resilience of your device. As such mobile phones, tablets and laptop computers should be handled with care, as bangs and knocks that wouldn’t normally cause issues can result in screen and chassis cracks. If you’re expecting a prolonged period outdoors, keep your phone in an inside pocket where it can be warmed by your body rather than in a backpack or your car.

Of course, if you’re using the new Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone, you don’t even need to take your gloves off to use the touchscreen. The Super Sensitive Touch system makes use of a Synaptics ClearPad Series 3 sensor, enabling interaction from gloved fingers, finger nails and even pens. That’s pretty useful, and no doubt something that other manufacturers will be looking to implement in future…

The Rain Is Coming…

One thing that you really need to protect your phone against is the rain. It’s not that the rain can do more damage than anything else (although it can), but more to do with the fact that precipitation is just so common.

winter weather app


While there are solutions to water damage – anything from standard cases and films to the extortionately priced Liquipel – your best recourse is to simply keep your phone out of the rain altogether (this includes hailstones, sleet and snow, too).

If you absolutely must use your phone, however, be prepared by keeping it in a zip-lock plastic bag, complete with a few packets of silica gel. When you need it, take it out of your pocket and use it, but make sure you keep it safe and away from any unnecessary moisture.

My guide to saving a wet cell phone or tablet How to Save a Phone or Tablet Dropped in Water You dropped your tablet or phone in water? Here's how to get the water out and ensure your device survives. Read More should tell you everything you need to know about dealing with water issues.

Wow, Scorchio!

Hot weather should mean calling people on your smartphone to make arrangements to meet up – but in extremes of heat, it might mean a phone shutting down of its own accord!


There are various ways of preventing this. To begin with, keep the phone out of direct sunlight, keeping it in the shade and other cool areas. Any area that would be unsuitable for humans is unsuitable for smartphones (Apple recommends that their iPhones should only be used in temperatures between 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit and the same can be applied to other devices), and this includes leaving your handset in a car in the hot weather. Battery intensive applications should be shutdown.

extreme weather app

Note that there are certain smartphone models that deal with bright sunlight by providing brighter displays that can be used on those wonderfully sunny summer days. Remember to leave your phone for a short time when moving from hot sunlight to a cool interior, allowing it to cool and get closer to room temperature.

Also, don’t forget that the hot weather doesn’t just inspire the more honest members of society to venture outside. Criminals will be an opportunistic threat, so keep your phone close by – and don’t forget the water threat of swimming pools and the sea…



Your smartphone probably costs a few hundred dollars to buy new. It’s easy to think of the device as less valuable due to monthly subscription charges, etc., but really given the amount of data that it stores and what it represents in terms of your life, keeping your smartphone safe in adverse weather conditions is extremely important.

Please take the time to give some of the points raised here some thought so that you can deal with the scenarios presented with success, and let us know if you have any ideas or observations about using a smartphone in extreme weather situations.

Image Credit: The beautiful girl with a mobile  |The young woman with mobile via Shutterstock | Thanatorn Chusuwan | No Cell Reception via Shutterstock  

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  1. Mithun
    November 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    Hi I am using my nokia e72. May I take it outside for any amusement parks? If also I want to take pics in water how can I protect my phone? Can somebody give suggestion to this?

  2. Samarth Hegde
    November 19, 2012 at 2:51 pm

    We wont have much problem when we use it in cold climates ... We must be more cautioned when we are using it in rain cause the water might enter through charging jack!! And even when the weather is too hot!! Because the display might get sensitive!! leading to problems! :)

  3. Jim Spencer
    November 19, 2012 at 9:27 am

    Nice little article about basics that we should all follow! Sometimes we think because we paid a small fortune for that Smart Phone, we seem to forget that it is not bulletproof!

  4. Kent
    November 16, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Another thing to remember is if you are in a cool air conditioned room and you go out into a very warm and very humid outdoors (like the beach on a Caribbean Island) that your device will most likey suffer from moisture condenstaion...inside and outside. This can totally ruin digital cameras and SLR lenses, so I'm sure it can do the same to your phone or tablet. To prevent, place the device in a large plastic zip lock type bag...perhaps with a good size bag of silica gel to absorb moisture...let it warm up slowly before taking it out of the bag. Same thing can happen when getting out of a very cool air conditioned car when the weather is hot and humid.

  5. Austen Gause
    November 16, 2012 at 3:42 pm

    i live in arizona and it gets way hotter than 95 when i use my phone. should i be worried of it dying because i have used it in temps over 105 and not had a problem

  6. Arron Walker
    November 16, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    If weather this extreme is common, and your absolute need to use a phone is equally common, consider buying a rugged phone rather than a smartphone. The greater chance of contact will be worth the sacrifice of extra entertainment. Unless you can get a rugged smartphone, not sure they exist... to google it is.

  7. Allan Mackay
    November 16, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    When I saw the headline, I thought it would be a guide to nail a long handle to an ipad to use as a snow shovel or a paddle!

  8. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm

    If you absolutely need to, you can charge your battery by burying it in the snow.
    Should I be happy that I live in a tropical country?

  9. ha14
    November 16, 2012 at 10:30 am

    in Total Recall the phone was in the Colin Farrell palm under the skin, safest place there is:)

  10. Márcio Guerra
    November 15, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Nice article... I'll try to use my devices properly in the next times, eeheheh!