Exploring the effects of below-freezing temperatures on smartphone usage

While the use of smartphones in extreme temperatures does not necessarily occur every day nor in all parts of the world, numerous use cases can be highlighted where the use of smartphones in cold temperatures is mandatory. Modern smartphones are designed to function in a wide range of temperatures, but when exposed to extreme cold temperatures the performance and reliability can significantly suffer. This paper presents a controlled laboratory experiment, using a clinical cold chamber to expose seven smartphone models to both medium cold (0 °C to −20 °C) and extreme cold (−30 °C) environments. The results showcase the smartphones’ sensing software’s lack of awareness of the cold environment, as well as reliability issues in the form of device crashes across the whole range of tested devices. We present a strategy for implementing monitoring application designs to both appropriately sense the effect of cold environments, as well as predicting device shutdowns in extreme cold.