Is the cold weather affecting your phone? (I’m not sure)

By | March 6, 2017
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I’ve had a few people ask me lately about problems with their phone batteries. I don’t know if it’s because of the cold weather – it could be but I’m not sure.

(Tablets and even laptops could have similar problems, but don’t seem to as often – I suppose because the batteries are usually bigger.)

The batteries on phones and so on are much better than they used to be – it’s amazing how long you can (for example) watch TV on a mobile phone before the battery runs out, given how small it is. But it doesn’t mean they’re perfect.

For example last year I had a problem where when I plugged the phone in, it would say it had charged, but as soon as I unplugged it, it would say 67% and go down from there. I still suspect it was actually charging fully, but didn’t realise it itself.

What can happen is that the phone itself gets confused about what is “fully charged” and so displays the wrong percentage.

Sometimes you get phones that just don’t hold the charge as well as they used to. (I can’t blame them – I don’t always have as much energy as I used to, either, especially after Alastair and Edward have insisted I join in playing at the park…)

What can you do? Well, the first thing to try is the good old standby: turn it off, wait a few seconds and turn it on again. Sometimes that’s all it takes for it to check the level of the battery again and get it right. (I’ll tell you something I found amusing about this “turn it off and then on again” trick another time – maybe in my next email.)

At other times you need to go through a more complicated process: you turn the phone off and with it turned off charge it until it’s fully charged. Sometimes there’s an indicator on screen even with it turned off, so you can tell when it reaches 100%. On some phones you just have to wait until you’re really sure it’s had long enough.

Then unplug it, turn it on and use it until it runs out of battery charge – don’t charge it again until then. Then turn it off (if it hasn’t turned itself off because it’s out of charge) and plug it in and charge it until it’s fully charged again.

It’s a bit frustrating as it means you can’t choose when you’re without your phone because it’s charging and turned off, but you shouldn’t need to do this all the time, just a couple of times to get it sorted.

After it’s fully charged this time, unplug it, turn it on again and with any luck, that’s it sorted.

Of course, it’s also possible that there’s a physical problem with a battery and you might need a new one (on some phones you can replace it yourself, on others you need to take it to a phone shop to do). But quite a lot of the time it’s not a physical problem and going through the process above exactly (make sure you have it turned off while you charge it and don’t turn it on until it’s finished) will sort it.

The same thing can work for tablets, too, if you have a problem with a tablet battery. And even laptops in some cases (though probably less often).

Some people even say you should do that process once a month or so, to avoid having problems, but I must admit I don’t do that. I’ve only used it when the problem actually happened and since then (touch wood!) it’s been absolutely fine.

So hopefully that’s one problem with phones that won’t bother you if it happens now!

5 thoughts on “Is the cold weather affecting your phone? (I’m not sure)

  1. Jack Leonard

    All batteries are less lively when cold as they produce electricity by chemical reaction and reactions work better when warm.. I am very conscious of this as I use a disability buggy with lead-acid batteries. Your car engine does not spin so fast when starting in cold weather. They don’t charge so fully when cold, either.
    My buggy is much happier having spent the night charging in our room in Tenerife at 25°C, rather than my garage at 5°.


    I agree with Jack – from my experience as an electronic engineer cold adversely affects battery efficiency. In 1970 I was in Northern Norway with RAF – my battery shaver refused to work – result? Very cold water shave!

  3. Tony Moody

    Hi, I can only agree with the comments made about mobile phone batteries. I know for certain that a cold battery can loose about 50% of it’s power due to being cold, so this I would think may be the case for most other batteries
    Tony Moody.

  4. David Platt

    I found an additional tip for “fixing” a mobile phone battery was to let it switch itself off. Then try switching it back on,without recharging first. The phone will attempt to power up, but will then power off again. Keep repeating this process until the phone shows no sign of life at all. The battery should now be completely flat. Now connect the charger and let it fully recharge before powering up.
    Good luck.


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