Mobile Battery drain in cold temperatures

Discussion in 'Gadgets & Tech' started by el manana, Jan 8, 2019.

  1. el manana

    el manana Thru Hiker

    I have an Honor 8 (Huawei) mobile phone, the contract is up shortly.

    During a trip a couple of months ago it was near fully charged overnight, but within about 3 hours the next day, the battery drained whilst it was cold in my pocket.
    Atm I have to keep my phone in a quite cold locker at work. When i switch it on, it shows the expected battery level then within a couple of minutes it powers off with empty battery. If I warm the phone up it I can be switched back on and the battery level is restored.

    A quick google implies this is typical of Li-on batteries in cold temps, I haven't experienced this before.

    Is this an aged battery problem or have others experienced similar with Honor or other makes?

    I need a reliable phone for walking so was intending on replacing it but now not sure if it would make a difference.

    Last edited: Jan 8, 2019
  2. OneBeardedWalker

    OneBeardedWalker Summit Camper

    I had exactly the same phone and, towards the end of the contract, exactly the same issue. I've now got a new Huawei something or other and don't seem to experience the same problem any more.
    el manana likes this.
  3. el manana

    el manana Thru Hiker

    Thanks, I was wondering if this was an issue with Honor phones (my daughter had the same issue)

    "Huawei something or other" - I admire your complete disregard for mobile technology :)

    I was considering replacing with the Honor 10 or Huawei P20 lite (although I have the mentioned battery concerns due to Honor/Huawei affiliation)
    OneBeardedWalker likes this.
  4. Arne L.

    Arne L. Section Hiker

    I also have it with my iPhone 8, albeit not that bad.

    Battery just drains a lot quicker in coldish temps. It gets the when the battery gets older though; my 3 year old iPhone 6 suffered pretty badly from this.

    When hiking, I keep it in the pocket of my shirt. That way it’s still relatievely easy accessible & the battery stays warm. At night I just switch it off.

    GoPro- & camerabatteries don’t like the cold either.

    A couple of years ago I had a Xtorm powerbank which reacted very bad to the cold. Weirdly, my Anker & Ravpower-batterypacks don’t seem to mind the cold all that much.
    Diddi and el manana like this.
  5. paul

    paul Thru Hiker

    I think its also a product of phones having become that much thinner and bigger in recent years. Cells tend to have a big surface area and really thin profile which suffer more in cold. There cynic in me says its programmed to start failing after two years to ensure you replace rather than keep. Doesnt seem to be an issue for 18650s. Ive left my zebralight on the snow at -10 and it still worked fine next morning :D
    Chiseller and el manana like this.
  6. OneBeardedWalker

    OneBeardedWalker Summit Camper

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  7. Teepee

    Teepee Thru Hiker

    There is a world of difference between phone performance in the cold, even betwen phones of the same brand. It's always been a hit and miss affair to get one to work in the winter when it's cold. I had a Nokia smartphone years ago that died at +3c. I'm not sure if Nokia did there best to test it's cold performance at home, in Finland.
    Keeping the cells warm is the best thing to do, it solves a lot of the problems. Old cells though, that have gone through 100's of cycles, won't have any where near the capacity of a new one will be compounding your issues.

    Phones sense the voltage, and shut down when it reaches a set arbitary limit in order that it does not overdischarge the cell and render it unchargeable. As the temp of a Lithium cell reduces, it's voltage does accordingly. For example, an 18650 lithium charged to 4.2v, will register a smidgeon over 4.0v when I take it out of the fridge(where I store them) . A cell with 3.5v charge in it, which is around 40%, measures as almost flat.

    FWIW, Lithiums will still work at temps under -40c, but they don't last very long. :)
    el manana likes this.
  8. JKM

    JKM Thru Hiker

    I don't think age has anything to do with it.
    Two years ago I was in the lakes when it was about -6° but wind-chill was bringing it to -16°.

    Amongst us we had a brand new iPhone, almost new Google nexus and a 4yr old iPhone.

    All 3 died on the way to the summit.

    The older iPhone recovered reasonably well once warmed up, the new iPhone could not be revived at all and my Nexus took a while to be warmed up enough to show 10% battery (I would have expected 80% based on usage)

    Lucky we did not actually need to call for help....

    I still remember the disappointment of finding our tunnocks teacakes had frozen solid :(
    el manana likes this.
  9. tom

    tom Thru Hiker

    All batteries drop a little voltage when cold but normally come back when it warms up again. Drainage may less to do with the battery itself but the processor starting to fail. We had a couple of LG phones (including warranty replacements) in the family which were doing great when new but started to act up and battery drainage was one of the big symptoms and more so when cold. Didn't happen while the processor was fine. The only way to maintain power overnight in a cold tent was to switch the phone off. I've not noticed any issues with cold temps with my current Lenovo P2.
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2019
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  10. Foxster

    Foxster Trail Blazer

    As others have said, I've had this with a couple of phones. The last time it was because I thought to keep the phone in the waist belt pocket of my backpack, where it was obviously at outside (cold) air temps. Putting it into the inside zipped pocket of my mid revived it.

    So, I'd say it can be an issue with any phone and probably the fix isn't a different phone but where you keep it when out and about.

    A lateral thought: If you do want your comms to hand when out in the cold then a smartwatch (kept warm by your wrist) linked to your phone tucked away close to your body might be an idea.
    el manana likes this.
  11. shetland_breeder

    shetland_breeder Trail Blazer

    You have to remember that these are consumer devices, and although the manufacturers are very shy of quoting an operating temperature range (in itself an indicator that the range is pretty small) anything below 0 Celsius is probably outside that range. And it's a function of the electronics as much as the battery.

    Consumer grade electronics is mostly onlyrated to work between 0 and 70 celsius.

    If you want _any_ electronics to work below 0 Celsius you really need to get military grade kit where the electronics should work betwee -40 and +125.
    FOX160 and el manana like this.
  12. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    Buy a phone you can change batteries with and keep the spare warm.
    el manana and stormin' like this.
  13. shetland_breeder

    shetland_breeder Trail Blazer

    Or keep your phone inside your clothing until you need it. It won't get cold enough to fail in the short time it takes to check your position it you are using it to navigate.
  14. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    The other problem with hard wired, inaccessible batteries in phones is the reason they started making them that way. When you think they're switched off, they're not.
  15. ZenTrekker

    ZenTrekker Ultralighter

    Li-ion batteries certainly lose charge quickly in the cold. My Sony camera battery will last a whole day in the warmish conditions (15 ˚C and above) even if I am going mad photographing everything in sight. If I'm just taking the odd shot here and there it will last up to three days. Last February I was in Wrocław, Poland, it was -15˚C, my camera battery lasted 18 minutes!
    el manana likes this.
  16. Bopdude

    Bopdude Section Hiker

    My Note 4 worked surprisingly well from -5 to -20, couldn't fault it, and I had spare batteries that were just in with spare cloths that worked when needed, must have just been lucky.
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2019
  17. Diddi

    Diddi Thru Hiker

    Gopro batteries are crap in the cold, Daughter just returned from Val d' Isere ski holiday and my 2x gopro batts failed on her after a short while in the cold.
    Arne L. likes this.
  18. JKM

    JKM Thru Hiker

    I loved Wroclaw.
    Hope you went gnome hunting?
  19. FOX160

    FOX160 Thru Hiker

    Come winter times I keep my iPhone6 inside a zip pouch to keep out moisture and in my inside pockets to keep warm
    if but rare to camp in winter I switch off my phone and put it into a spare sock and place it inside my quilt, had left the phone once in the tent pocket and even at +4 noticed how cold the iPhone was with it’s glass and aluminium construction and the slump in battery the following day.
  20. ZenTrekker

    ZenTrekker Ultralighter

    I was there because my Mother in law was very ill but I did get to see some of the gnomes @JKM
    JKM likes this.
  21. Rog Tallbloke

    Rog Tallbloke Thru Hiker

    Glass. Heavy stuff. I don't tote much of it around. Camera lens. Watch glass. That's about it.

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