How to Safely Use an iPhone in the Snow and Cold

Skiing? Snowboarding? Here's what to do with your iPhone

shoveling snow
Echo/cultura/Getty Images

The iPhone and iPod make terrific companions during chores, sports, and outdoor adventures, snowy and cold conditions included. So, do you need to do anything different to weather-proof your phone?

Your iPhone can survive cold weather if you treat it correctly. You can use your iPhone while snowboarding, skiing, shoveling snow, hiking in the winter, etc. However, you should be fully aware of safe temperature ranges, and what to do outside of those ranges, so that your iPhone or iPod doesn't get too cold and shut off.

Bringing your laptop along with you? We also have cold-weather tips for laptops.

iPhone Temperature Guidelines

32–95 degrees Fahrenheit (0–35 C) is what Apple recommends the ambient temperature be to keep your device from getting too cold. However, that's much easier said than done when you're in wintery weather and might be heading out into temperatures much lower than 32 F.

Fortunately, there are several things you can do to keep your phone warm and protect it from dropping to ultra-low, potentially damaging temperatures.

How to Use an iPhone in the Winter

Below are some tips on what to do if you'll be in a situation where your mobile device will struggle to stay warm.

It's not safe to target heat at your iPhone/iPod in an effort to keep it warm. For example, don't hold a flame next to it! Not only could you easily overheat the device, you'd most likely be warming it inconsistency, which can cause issues.

Give It a Case

ORDTBY iPhone Case
ORDTBY

Snowy days are often moist, especially if snow is melting on your body or you're working up a sweat moving around a lot. Dropping your phone in snow is another reason to use an iPhone case.

If you have lost your iPhone, whether in snow or not, there are a few ways to you can locate it, but some of them involve methods that you must have had taken before losing it. Be sure to learn how to find a lost iPhone before you head out.

There are so many iPhone cases available that you shouldn't have a problem finding one. However, they're all built differently. Since you're wanting to keep your iPhone or iPod warm, don't pick a really thin case or something that you're concerned will get damaged easily in wet conditions, like a leather iPhone case.

Instead, opt for a bulky, rugged, or insulated case—OtterBox cases are normally fairly hefty, and you might even have luck finding a thermal smartphone case like this one from Amited. Something with a screen protector will be helpful, too, if you're concerned about dropping your device in the snow.

Recent iPhone models, like the iPhone X and XS series, have waterproofing built into them that will protect them from small amounts of winter water. A good case is still important, but less so for this purpose with these models.

Keep It Close to Your Body

Your body is most likely the warmest thing around you when you're in the cold, so ensuring that your iPhone or iPod is as close to your skin as possible is important in keeping its temperature up.

This means you shouldn't wear it on an armband or carry it in your hand for too long. Instead, put your iPhone/iPod in an inner pocket of your jacket or even inside your clothes, right next to your body.

Another way to store your iPhone while skiing or doing another cold-weather activity, is to put it inside one of your snow boots, as comfortably far down as you can fit it. If your boots have tightening straps, ensure they're super-secure to prevent your phone from falling out.

As you build body heat by exercising, you'll be able to keep your device closer to its ideal temperature range.

Leave It Covered Even While Using It

iPhone X with wireless earbuds

Taking your iPhone out of its warm place and exposing it to the cold, and vice versa, over and over, isn't good for it and will drain the battery quicker. Your phone will expand when warm and contract when cold, which isn't how it should behave.

Leaving your phone in your pocket or jacket doesn't mean you have to stop using it in the cold. You can utilize several functions through your headphones, such as calling upon Siri and controlling music playback.

Speaking of headphones, you shouldn’t run into any problems using them as you typically would. You might even prefer over-ear headphones since they'll provide a little extra warmth for your ears.

What to Do If Your iPhone Gets Wet

Despite our best intentions and precautions, sometimes our devices get wet. Whether they fall in a snowbank or get a drink spilled on them in the ski lodge, you can end up with a moisture-damaged iPhone or iPod in a split second.

If your device gets wet, it's not necessarily the end of the world. However, there are some specific steps you need to take to make sure it doesn't get damaged.