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With the cold weather, a rather odd problem appeared on my iPhone 4S – whenever I use the phone in weather below ~12 °C, it turns itself off and claims to be out of battery. This most often occurs when the battery is at 20-30 %, but isn't limited to that at all.

When it happens, I've found that rubbing the phone to heat it up helps, but that is a temporary fix, as it turns itself off again if exposed to cold again for a couple of minutes.

The fix has worked for quite a while, but it seems the phone can handle less and less cold - starting at about 10 minutes in -10 °C at 10 % battery left when it first happened, to about 3 minutes in 10 °C with 30 % battery. Therefore I have to ask – what can I do about it? I guess it will most likely have to be sent in for a replacement or repair, but I doubt this is covered by the phone's warranty (at least Apple's own)?

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This might serve the site better as two questions. This one - how can I tell if I need a repair? Followed / linked to "I've decided I will repair, what are my options for iPhone 4S in country Y). –  bmike Feb 12 '13 at 17:06
    
True, thank you! –  Emil Feb 12 '13 at 20:48

3 Answers 3

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I would question two things about your framing of the issue (and will sidestep the whole repair discussion/issue entirely):

1) Apple's warranty does cover batteries that don't retain a percentage of their useful life based on aging at one, two and three years (two for most iOS warranty / coverage, but there are exceptions in some cases). You should open a ticket with them if you have coverage and see if they will repair it for you.

2) I use an iPhone regularly outdoors when the temperature reaches -30 C and even then, the decrease in capacity is temporary. While the device is colder than 0C - you get less juice out of the cell, but once you warm it (in a pocket, next to your skin to warm it temporarily - or when you are inside a heated space for long enough to warm the battery), the devices recover full capacity.

(You will want to watch to control condensation to prevent liquid damage / especially if you bring a very cold device into a warm humid space, that warm air will carry liquid inside the product. Similarly, a warm device when rapidly cooled could have liquid condense inside it and then freeze.) Devices left in a car overnight such as iPad and Mac also see no measurable decrease in battery life once I get them inside and warm - whether I charge them or not.

I'll leave the DIY repair / pay for a repair discussion for another thread where you get specific on what model, but from what I see, the environmental behavior is that cold batteries still have all the charge they took, but they don't produce as much voltage and current while they are cold.

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I'll definitely open a ticket! Thanks :) –  Emil Feb 12 '13 at 20:50
    
I did some more testing during our "polar vortex" phase this winter and even old iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 held up well in the cold - getting run times about half what was listed by Apple when quite cold. –  bmike Feb 15 at 22:28

The operating temperature of an iPhone 4s is 0 to 35 degrees Celsius (source: http://store.apple.com/us/browse/home/shop_iphone/family/iphone4s). At minus 12 degrees C, you're below the threshold so your phone behavior is expected.

To keep iPhone warm in cold environment, I put it in the inner vest or jacket pocket as that will be warmer with the insulation and proximity with the body. So far no problem from phone not working. The main problem is my gloves prevent my fingers from touching the glass surface resulting in unintended app actions.

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Yeah, I know, but it failing in 5-10 °C isn't really expected, right? Thanks for the tip! –  Emil Feb 12 '13 at 20:49
    
No worries. It gets this cold in Iowa in the winter. –  Global nomad Feb 12 '13 at 20:50

There was a recent article by CNN that suggested a case company "Salt Cases" that makes thermally protective cases. I found their site on the web at: http://www.saltcases.com The CNN article was pretty interesting too: http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/13/tech/mobile/cold-weather-phones/

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