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Keep a Car Charger for Emergencies
Given the iPhone’s vulnerability to cold weather, one must be prepared for emergencies. If you get stuck in the snow, a cold iPhone that doesn’t work can be a life-threatening situation. Even though the battery may not perform well, you will probably get some power if you plug it into a charger. Make sure to keep a car-compatible iPhone charger in your automobile at all times. Some of these can plug in to the cigarette lighter. Most modern cars have a standard electric or USB outlet, so you can use just about any charger.
Ideally, you should use the charger provided by Apple. Rapid charging with too much current can damage the battery from overheating. Even if you are in a cold environment, a rapid charger could exacerbate the temperature extremes, causing damage to your device.
Use an Old iPhone
Prior to the iPhone 5, Apple’s iconic devices were sandwiched between two sheets of glass. Glass is an insulator. Given this insulating property, the iPhone 4 and 4S should operate better under cold conditions.
Officially, Apple recommends the same temperatures for these older, glass-sandwiched iPhones. The laws of physics would seem to indicate they will perform better in cold weather, due to the insulation. Of course, if the device is left in the cold for a long time, it won’t matter. However, if you take it out of your pocket to use briefly, it should remain operational longer.
Being an old iPhone, you might not get too upset if the temperature extremes ruin the device. I wouldn’t go out and buy an old iPhone for this purpose. You may want to keep your old iPhone 4 or 4S to use outdoors in the winter. Many carriers will allow you to keep your old device activated for free.
Use the Apple Watch to Access iPhone Functionality
The Apple Watch may function better in cold weather. The device’s operating temperature range is the same as the iPhone — 32º F to 95º F (0º C to 35º C). Certain aspects of the Apple Watch may enable it to fare better in cold weather. Since the Apple Watch is worn on your wrist, heat from your body will keep it from getting too cold. If you wear it under a heavy coat and expose it only for quick glances, it should operate in cold weather.
Its material design may also keep the Apple Watch from getting too cold. The front of the device is sapphire glass, which acts as an insulator. The back is either a composite or ceramic material (depending on model) and metal. Body heat should keep the device warm enough to use, even in cold weather. A metal-backed Apple Watch will fare better in cold weather, as body heat transfers through the material.
Metal is Better Overall
Unfortunately, when it comes to extreme temperatures, most electronic devices don’t perform well. When powered by a lithium-ion battery, electronic devices must be operated and stored within certain temperature ranges. The iPhone is not unique in this respect.
Newer iPhones are encased in metal, which dissipates heat faster. For most people, heat is a bigger problem. Even if you live in an extremely cold area, you will most likely be using your device indoors, where the heat of the battery and components is more problematic. Apple made the right choice when it comes to materials. Unfortunately, the metal iPhones don’t perform as well under extremely cold conditions.
There are other brands of smart phones that are encased in plastic. You can also get an iPhone 5C, which features a plastic enclosure. This may be something to consider in cold climates. However, many northern locations have warm summers, and people are often indoors in the winter. Overall, a metal enclosure which dissipates heat is an excellent design and is best for most iPhone users.
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