People often forget that a Rugged smartphone is still like having a pretty powerful computer in your hand, just a rugged mobile one and because of that it does need a little bit of care, attention and tweaking at times.  I put this guide together to just get people thinking about what changes the winter brings and how it can affect the performance of your rugged smartphone.  With just a few quick checks, you’ll be ready and remember this advice applies to tablets and any handhelds too.

It gets cold!

Generally it gets colder in the winter for all of us, but i’m not talking about a Miami winter, i’m talking about a typical UK or European winter where the temperatures get to freezing or worse.  Cold is the enemy of any kind of electronic equipment and it can have a really adverse effect on how your rugged smartphone works. First of all there’s the battery.  Batteries simply don’t like the cold and with every degree drop you see battery performance drop whether it’s your car battery or the one in your Rugged smartphone, you simply can’t get round it.  This means that the battery is going to run flat quicker and in some cases it can almost seem like there can be something wrong.

Equipment also does get affected by the cold and those storage and operating temperature ranges on the spec sheet aren’t just there for fun. Some hardware can start to run oddly as low as 0 degrees and you could experience anything form odd things happening to the device simply not responding. I was working on an RFID project a few ago who’s warehouse happened to be on the docks in south Wales. In winter the wind chill could take temperatures down to -20 which was destroying the scan ranges on their UHF tags.  Everyone blamed the hardware or some software glitch but it was the cold that was the culprit!

So think about your battery usage, maybe buy a car charger, get an extra battery or think about your device power usage, anything to conserve battery!

So what can you do?

Keeping your device warm will help and is a strategy employed by businesses who work in cold environments like freezers or the outdoors.  You don;t have to buy expensive heated holsters though to make an impact.  Simply keep your device in a warm place, like a car between uses or even in your pocket will help enormously.

Also don’t leave your device in known cold places.  A vehicle overnight for example can be one of the coldest places you can imagine and even using a holster will help keep things working just  a little bit better.

A word on storage

Batteries, when stored need some serious thought too but storage + cold can bring a whole world of pain when it comes to batteries.  If you’re storing your rugged smartphone for any length of time in the winter then make sure you follow the advice in another blog you can find here and you’ll save yourself a lot of time, hassle  and hard earned money.

It gets wetter

If you live up here in Liverpool then I think it rains almost every day anyway, but generally the winter also brings more rain so prepare for it!  Any rugged smartphone should be waterproof and dust proof anyway, however where a lot of customer go wrong is making sure their device is properly closed up and secure.  In the summer months a gap in the battery door might not be an issue but in the winter with the cold and wet getting in it will be and it could kill your rugged device.

Make sure the battery door closes properly and any rubber seals are in the right place and not damaged.  Check the back case is fitted correctly and securely closes the battery compartment up.  Also check your device for any cracks or knocks that could have damaged the outer casing which could let water in and make sure that all those little rubber covers that cover up the power or USB connectors are present and fitted well. Unlike consumer smartphones (That are not IP rated correctly despite what they tell you!), full IP 67/68 devices do in fact need the covers on them to maintain their waterproof-ness.

Lastly check the screen for cracks. Cracks that might not affect the device are common, but in winter with the added rain, they could be a slow leak into your rugged smartphone that can lead to issues.

If water gets inside your device it will start to corrode and that leads to short circuits and once that happens it could be game over for your mobile handheld.

It gets slippy

Honestly, I have checked this statistic, but for our outdoor customers we get more drops and damage to devices in the winter months.  Whether this is down to devices being more slippy and wet or people actually falling over more I don’t know but a little thought on just how you can secure your device better will help a lot. Think about that case or holster as these save so much damage to mobile devices.

Numb fingers, hard icy floors and dark days = more drops.

It gets darker

I think I must spend about 3 months of the year not seeing sunlight these days. I’m at my desk for 7 and still there at 7, I literally turn into a vampire! Mobile devices being used in the dark need different settings to those being used in the daylight so think about your screen brightness, barcode scanner settings and all things that can be affected by darker dingier days!

So hopefully that will get you thinking!  You know we get a lot of these ideas from customers, so if you have any tips or tricks of your own that you’d like to share then just get in touch via the comments or find us on Facebook.

 

About The Author

Dave's one of the founders of Raptor, his rants are memorable, his thoughts are stimulating and his heart is set on helping, entertaining and making things like mobile, Android, ruggedness, 3D printing and IOT simple.

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