This guide is brought to you by one of our active Discord members: Quantum_Robin! Many thanks for this very useful guide!

Venturing out into the cold isn’t a trivial matter; venturing out into the cold to hunt for prehistoric sharp toothed creatures armed with nothing but a smartphone is just plain crazy. If needs must this winter, then here is a helpful guide on looking after you and your device.

AR games provide a unique mix of mobile gaming and the real world. And the real world comes with real weather and real dangers, for me, this is never more evident than during the long dark winter months.

So, what qualifies me to advise you on how to look after yourself in these cold conditions? Well, academically nothing at all, however, years of experience, research and many freezing nights trekking to get the best view of the stars, equates to quite a lot.

As an avid astronomer and astro-photographer in part of the world that routinely experiences -20 Celsius, or lower, I have spent many freezing nights with a range of consumer electronic devices including cameras, laptops and smartphones. The trouble is, these types of electronics are not designed to withstand extremes of temperature, often resulting in a range of issues from battery discharge to complete failure. Not to mention what these temperatures can do to your body, from a loss of concentration to life threatening illness. Thus, fellow explorers, the impending wintery conditions should not be taken lightly.

This guide is split into two parts: part one, covering what impacts cold conditions can have on your phone; part two, a whistle stop tour of things to think about to protect yourself. Please take local climatic conditions into account when reading this guide. Not everyone will experience sub-zero temperatures and I know many of you will be laughing at me referring to -20°C as cold. That being said, whatever your local conditions, do not underestimate what a drop in temperature can do.

Winter Survival Part One – Phone Shattering Cold

How the cold can affect your phone

Most major smartphone manufacturers, Apple and Samsung included, provide a recommended operating range of 0 to 30°C (or similar). So, does that mean your phone will die once the temperature hits minus figures? In short, no, but let’s have a look at what affects you can expect:

Batteries and screens are the most vulnerable components to cold conditions but for different reasons.

  • Your screen is made of glass, sudden temperature changes can put it at risk of cracking; with extreme cold, glass becomes more brittle and therefore vulnerable
  • Lithium-ion batteries lose their operating capability to sustain charge in cold conditions, although will normally return to full working order once back to temperature. However, very cold conditions can harm the battery in the long-term.

Here is a quick research-based walk through on what you may experience at a range of minus temperatures;

  • 0°C – Normal operation.
  • -10°C – Dimming of screen brightness and possible touch sensitivity issues.
  • -20°C – Recommended shut down point, battery may drain more rapidly.
  • -25°C – Battery discharge issues (not usually permanent) and unresponsive touchscreen.
  • -30°C – Display render issue (LCD) and possible device shutdown.
  • -40°C – Complete inoperability and potential permanent damage.

It is worth noting most manufacturers have introduced automatic shutdown for high and low temperatures. In fact, during the time of writing this article my new phone turned itself off at a relatively warm -5°C.

Prevention & Protection for your phone

Not everyone will experience all or any of the aforementioned impacts the cold can have on your device, but they shouldn’t be dismissed. There are some preventative recommendations and precautions that may limit the risk of your dino hunting being cut short because the cold broke your phone:

  • Keep your device close to your body; your body heat can help negate the weathers influence on your phone. Keeping it in a pocket may not be the best way to hunt dinos but do consider it to help limit your phones exposure to the elements.
  • Cold weather can often bring moisture, keep the phone dry especially in sub-zero conditions, even if your phone is waterproof. Waterproof phones and cases may help, though, water and freezing conditions are not going to be friendly to any device.
  • Consider simple rubber/silicone cases in the event of slips and trips in icy conditions. However, cases will do little in the way of trapping the phones internal heat, it is better to simply limit the phones exposure time to the cold environment.
  • It is not recommended to keep the phone in the same pocket as a pocket warmer. This is to avoid overheating and to avoid exasperating the colds impact on your phone with larger than normal temperature swings.
  • It is also not recommended to use “Heating” Apps on your device. 3rd party applications exist for both iPhone and Android devices and are designed to run your phone into hyper drive to generate heat. In addition to draining the battery and hampering the phones performance, you could be causing long-term damage to the device.
  • When returning home, avoid taking the phone straight from the freezing outside into the warm house. Keep it in a pocket or bag to allow for gradual temperature acclimatization, reducing the chance of condensation build up or glass damage.

!If at any point you notice any signs of moisture in the device, switch it off immediately, put it somewhere dry, and take out anything you can; e.g. battery, sim cards, micro SD. Do not switch on or charge the device until all signs of moisture have gone, this can take up to a day!

Parting Words

In summary, limit the direct exposure time of your phone to sub-zero temperatures and if in doubt, switch it off. Keeping your equipment in good working order is always advisable and for AR games where baring the elements it part and parcel of a dedicated player. This point becomes even more critical if you want to be able to keep playing even when the weather doesn’t want you to.

In part two we will consider more important implications of the weather on your and tips on how you can maintain a long and fruitful hunt, safely and warmly.