Cell Phone in the Freezer: What Happens?

Here’s what happens if you put your cell phone into the freezer.

Did you forget your phone in the freezer, or do you plan on giving it a cool break?

Learn what might happen to your phone when it’s placed in the freezer with this in-depth article.

Keep reading!

Table of Contents

Is Your Cell Phone Safe in the Freezer?

We’ve all accidentally put our phones down in weird places before. From leaving it in the car to finding it kicked under the sofa, cell phones can seem to have a mind of their own sometimes. 

Many of us have even tossed phones into the trash or placed them in the fridge while putting away leftovers or tossing garbage in the trash. 

And yes, putting your cell phone into the freezer can happen too. But should you panic?

Should you instantly grab your phone and head out to the repair shop? 

Here is what happens if you put your cell phone in the freezer.

The First Possible Problem: Battery

What might happen completely depends on how long you left the phone in the freezer. If it sat in the freezer for a few hours, chances are nothing of real consequence will happen to it. 

However, what happens if you left your cell phone in the freezer overnight? The longer you left your cell phone in the freezer, the more likely an issue will arise.

There are two real problems that might take place when it comes to a cell phone left in the freezer. The first has to do with the battery. The second has to do with moisture.

Freezing cold temperatures is not good for batteries. You may have noticed your cell phone battery does not last as long when out in the cold (the same is true for any other electronic device). So, the freezer might end up draining the battery.

Confused man typing on his cellphone.

That might not sound too bad, but the real problem is if it’s so damaged, it is unable to hold a charger once it returns to room temperature. The battery might only be able to hold a minimal charge, it might start to die unexpectedly, or it might not hold a charge at all.

The Second Issue: Moisture

The second issue is moisture. Your freezer shouldn’t have much condensation going on inside. Ideally, however, there is the possibility that there is some moisture within the air of the freezer if the freezer door was left open for more than a few minutes. When warm air enters the freezer, it will cause anything that is frozen to give off moisture, which can then linger in the air.

If your cell phone is in the freezer and there was moisture in the appliance, it’s possible that some moisture will settle on the cell phone. Moisture and electronics are not a good match. 

Now, that doesn’t mean your phone is automatically shot if moisture did, in fact, touch and settle on the phone. This is actually where having the battery deplete quickly can be a saving factor and might prevent an expensive repair.

What If Moisture Got Inside The Phone?

Moisture can touch an electronic device as much as it wants. As long as there is no electrical current flowing through circuits, it should be fine. 

However, cell phones receive so many notifications these days that can be difficult. So if moisture did enter your cell phone, and you did not receive any notifications, and the phone didn’t ring, the screen didn’t light up, and nothing went off. So there’s a good chance nothing will then have happened to your phone.

If, however, moisture did end up in the phone, and you received a text message, an app sent a notification, or someone tried calling you. Once that notification goes through, the cell phone will shoot off a small electrical current from one phone area to the other, informing the phone to vibrate, chirp, ring, or do something else. 

Technician repairing phone motherboard similar to a computer.

If there is moisture on the circuit board where an electrical current is flowing through, it might shorten the entire phone. Once there is a short circuit in the phone, it’s difficult to know exactly where the short took place, and you may need to replace the entire phone.

What Should You Do First?

Should you discover your cell phone in the freezer, you need to follow a very specific list of steps.

First, absolutely don’t push buttons to see if it works. This is the last thing you should do. Yes, you’re absolutely curious, but if there is moisture and it hasn’t yet received a notification, you might end up killing the phone yourself by activating the screen and triggering the electrical response.

Instead, you need to first remove any and all removable elements of the phone. Suppose you have a removable battery. Take this out first. Then, take out your SIM card. 

Many phones, like the Apple iPhone or Samsung Galaxy phones, do not have removable batteries, so you can’t take them out. However, even if you can’t perform this step, make sure to remove the SIM card.

Removing the SIM

If you have a SIM card, there will be a small, pin-sized opening somewhere along the phone’s edge. The exact placement of the SIM card will depend on the make and model of your cell phone. If you are not sure, or if you can’t seem to find it, look up the SIM card location online.

Once you have located the small hole, grab a safety pin or staple, insert it into the hole, then pry up. There is a specialty SIM removal tool that your local service provider (such as Verizon or T-Mobile will have available), but you can usually avoid this by using a staple or thin safety pin. Be gentle when prying out as the tray is on the delicate side.

Once the SIM card is out set it aside.

Warming and Drying the Phone

You’ve probably heard of people putting their cell phones into a bag of rice after dropping the phone in the toilet or sink. Rice helps absorb and pull out moisture from the device. 

Now, you will likely not have this kind of moisture on your phone. If there is any moisture, it will be minimal.

You can place your phone in a bag of rice if you’d like, but in this instance, closely wrapping it up in a paper towel will be just as good. After all, you want it to sit in a room-temperature location and warm up naturally. Using a paper towel will allow some airflow while absorbing moisture as well.

Just avoid trying to heat the phone up yourself. Do not pull out a hairdryer. Taking an electronic device out of an extremely cold environment and placing it into a warm to the hot environment may cause some electronic components to go from contracting to expanding. This rapid change may cause internal problems.

Instead, just allow your cell phone to warm to room temperature naturally. And just in case there was any moisture present, you’ll want to let this take place for several hours. Leave it like this when you go to work, then check on it when you get back home. 

Smartphone sim card with sim card slots.

Or, if you found your cell phone in the evening, let it dry and warm up overnight. This will give enough time to dry (if necessary) and return to normal operating temperatures.

Powering On

Now is the moment of truth. After letting your cell phone naturally return to room temperature, insert the SIM card back into the phone and place the battery back onto the phone (if you could remove it in the first place.

Press and hold the power button and wait for a response. If the phone does turn on great, but make sure to monitor battery consumption. You may notice the battery cannot last as long as it was able to before spending time in the freezer. 

So just be aware this might be something you have to deal with (but replacing a battery on your cell phone is far less expensive than replacing the phone itself).

But what if the phone doesn’t turn on? That doesn’t necessarily mean you need to replace the phone. Instead, connect the phone to a charger, let it sit for several minutes, and then try to power it back on again while still connected to the charger. It’s possible your phone battery simply was depleted while in the freezer and didn’t have any charge left.

If it turns on, allow your cell phone to fully charge up and then disconnect. Again, make sure to monitor the power to see if there is any drop-off in usage time or if the phone randomly turns off when it hits a certain remain charge percentage.

Still Doesn’t Work

If your phone still doesn’t work, it is time to take it in. You’ve done all you can for it, and now you need the experts to give it a look. If you have cell phone insurance on the phone, you might be able to have it replaced for free. 

Some credit cards also have cell phone coverage for your phone if you purchased it using that particular card (AMEX offers this with certain cards, as do other credit card providers). So, even if you have to pay out of pocket, you can at least be reimbursed by your credit card company.

And, if you don’t have insurance coverage and your credit card does not offer cell phone replacement coverage, now might be the time to begin looking at replacement phones. 

Some phones to consider next time will be water-resistant phones. This will reduce the chance of moisture getting into the cell phone and damaging it in the future, should you ever accidentally put the phone in the freezer again any time soon.