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Jim Little Level 2 Level 2 (185 points)

I've been skiing with my iPhone 5 for the last few weeks, and have had a problem with the iPhone shutting down in cold conditions.  If the ambient temperature is below about freezing, the iPhone 5 will go from about 50-60% battery indication to shutting down and showing the "dead battery" logo when you try and turn it back on.  If I warm it up in an inner pocket it will restart and show 50% battery again.  I generally keep my iPhone in an outer chest pocket designed for cell phones on my ski jacket.  I've moved the phone to an inner pocket and problem goes away.  But that causes problems with getting to the phone for calls/etc, and also is an issue in terms of moisture.  I skied for years with prior iPhone models including the iPhone 1-4 models, and never had this problem.  I suspect it is something to do with the mostly metal case.  I've done a full software restore and didn't change this.  I'm planning to take it to the Apple Store next time I'm near one and see what they say.

  • cdub22 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I'm having the same problem while skiing. I never had the problem with iPhone 4. Let me know if you hear anything from apple.

  • Balien Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Went skying this weekend and it happened to 3 of us. It was -17c and either iPhone 4 or 4s would shut down if out of pocket for more than 3 min or so. The phone reported low battery with 85% actual charge left then shut down. I think it's just a mater of being quick to put the phone in your warm pocket.

  • Jim Little Level 2 Level 2 (185 points)

    Same coat + same pocket + iPhone 4S = never had a problem.  Battery may not have lasted as long, but it never crashed/shut down with 50%+ battery remaining.

     

    There seems to be something different about the iPhone 5 (or at least my iPhone 5) and cold weather tolerance.

     

    Yesterday skied with the iPhone 5 in inner pocket and worked fine until I pulled it out to take some pictures and send a text.  After about 5 minutes in the cold (around 0 degrees farenheit) with 75% battery remaining, it shut down and would not restart.  When I went in for lunch, after about 30 minutes of warming it up, it came back on and indicated 75% battery remaining.

  • a.kennedy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Glad to hear I'm not imagining things... this is exactly what is happening when I run outside with my new iphone 5 (purchased a couple of weeks ago). I had no problems with my iphone 3G. As you say, keeping it in an inner layer causes moisture problems. Interested to see what Apple says about the issue.

  • srettie Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I have been having ths same issues the cold weather makes sense because I got my phone the day they were released and it never shutdown.  Since december it seems to shutdown after walking outside, taking pics sledding, and has really been a issue with some real cold temps in North Bay Ontario Canada

  • Lawrence Finch Level 7 Level 7 (28,100 points)

    From the specs:

     

    • Operating ambient temperature: 32° to 95° F (0° to 35° C)
    • Nonoperating temperature: −4° to 113° F (−20° to 45° C)
    • Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
    • Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)
  • srettie Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    so some how they have found a way to make the 5 the least robust of the iphones to date.  THis has never been a issue with my 3gs or any owner of a 4 or 4s that also happens to live where it likes to snow? What gives, if this was standard operating for a phone in the north no one would own them?

  • etunar Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I am having similar problems when I am out hiking. The phone just shuts down randomly and doesn't turn back on until it is warmed up.

     

    If it is simply a safety feature against cold weather, it's not helping at all.

  • Jim Little Level 2 Level 2 (185 points)

    After some further experimentation, there are serious cold weather performance issues with the iPhone 5 compared to prior generation iPhones.  Starting at about 15 degrees farenheit (-10 celsius) the battery life of the iPhone rapidly deteriorates and the phone crashes and won't restart until warmed up.

     

    I think there are a number of explanations for this:

     

    1. The performance of ALL batteries deteriorates in the cold.  Batteries are a chemical reaction, and that reaction slows down in colder temperatures.  Shelf life of batteries can be extended by keeping them cool, but you need to warm them up before you use them.  That being said... I've skied for years with iPhones in the 1st-4th generation, and NEVER saw this problem with other iPhones.
    2. The iPhone 5 battery is thinner and has larger surface area than prior batteries.  Larger surface area = faster cooling.  Simple thermodynamics.
    3. The iPhone 5 shell is thin aluminum and has a larger surface area than the prior models.  Aluminum has excellent heat transfer.  This is why you can take a tin-foil wrapped potato out of a 350 degree oven and remove the tin foil with your bare fingers in seconds without burning yourself.  The glass and plastic of the prior models did not cool down as quickly as the aluminum back of the iPhone 5.
    4. I do wonder if there are other components affected by cold, specifically processor, or perhaps expansion/contraction due to temperature change?  Again, the iPhone 5 is so dramatically different than prior iPhone models I'm searching for other possible explanations.

     

    The thermodynamic effects on the iPhone 5 are quite significantly different than the prior iPhone models in my experience.  If I take it out of my warm inner pocket in 0 degree farenheit (-18 celsius) weather to snap a photo, it takes about 10-15 seconds for the phone to cool to the point where it will shut down.  Too fast for me to snap pictures or video of my son or friends skiing.

     

    Solution: Keep the iPhone 5 in a warm inner pocket.  I put it in a zip lock baggie to help with moisture.  I'm experimenting with heavier/thicker cases made of rubber or plastic to help slow down heat transfer.  Once there are better iPhone 5 extended battery packs on the market (like the Mophie Juice Pack), I will probably get one of those for when I'm skiing or in the back country.  I need my phone available, even in the cold weather, for emergencies.

  • Jim Little Level 2 Level 2 (185 points)

    Lawrence, thanks for posting the tech specs.  I compared them to the specs for the iPhone 4 models, and they are identical.  But I can tell you that the cold weather performance of the iPhone 5 is DRAMATICALLY worse than the iPhone 1-4 models.  See my post below for my suspected reasons.  I can tell you that the iPhone works just fine at altitudes above 10,000 feet... I regularly use mine above that altitude!  So the specs may differ from the reality!

  • etunar Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Thanks for that post Jim. I had a feeling it may have something to do with the aluminum case design, so your explanation explains this perfectly..

  • Lawrence Finch Level 7 Level 7 (28,100 points)

    I think the situation is that earlier iPhones performed better than the specs required, and the iPhone 5 doesn't (although this is a small sample to go by and it could be just a limited number of phones).

     

    One possible reason is that glass is a fair insulator, but aluminum is an excellent conductor. So replacing the glass back with aluminum causes the phone to radiate heat faster.

  • ahaven02 Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    I just had the same problem. I went outside for maybe 10 minutes to take pictures and my phone went from about 60% to telling me I had 20% left, then 10% about 15 seconds later. And then when I clicked dismiss on the notification that said 10% left, it said I had 1% and then shut down a second later. I never had this problem with my iphone 3gs which I had out in the cold before christmas, which was when I got my new iphone 5. And it's only 16 degrees F right now, I can't imagine what it'll do tomorrow if I go out when it's gonna be -20! I did switch my case to a rubber one though instead of a hard case because I think that may have been one of the reasons it got cold so fast. So you could try a warmer case. They even have little knit sweater iphone holders you can get, which would probably keep it warm enough that you could leave it in the outside pocket of your jacket.

  • Liquid25x Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)

    Same thing happened to me today. It was about -4C. A little windy. My phone kept shutting down with 60% battery. I eventually got the red dead battery symbol. I have my phone in a Lifeproof case. It did not seem to offer any additional protection from the windchill. I keep my phone in an outside pocket of my ski jacket. Goretex pro shell fabric completely wind and weatherproof. Not insulated though. This is the first phone of MANY that I have owned that had this problem. Blackberry's, samsungs, htc's..... And I have had those phones In Much colder environments.

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