Apple Says It's Working to Fix iPhone X Cold Weather Display Glitch

Some users have been reporting unresponsive displays on their iPhone X phones in cold weather. Apple says it is working on a software fix.

iPhone X

Owners of some iPhone X smartphones are complaining on Reddit and other social media sites that their new devices are not always properly responding to screen touches in cold weather, making the phones difficult to use.

The problem was perhaps first noted on Reddit on Nov. 8 by user darus214, who posted a message saying his iPhone X's screen quickly becomes unresponsive when going outdoors from a warm indoor location. "I try swiping on websites and it doesn't register my finger," wrote darus214. "It's very noticeable. Is anyone else having this problem?"

Darus214 also noted that the issue might also be due to "drastic changes in light that are causing problems," while mentioning that only some users are reporting similar issues. "Can we get Apple to investigate?"

A Nov. 9 story by The Loop reported that Apple has confirmed the problem for some iPhone X users and is working on a fix for the problem.

"We are aware of instances where the iPhone X screen will become temporarily unresponsive to touch after a rapid change to a cold environment," according to Apple's statement. "After several seconds the screen will become fully responsive again. This will be addressed in an upcoming software update."

Apple did not immediately respond to an email inquiry from eWEEK about the situation.

It is unknown how many iPhone X handsets are affected by the issue, but the number is believed to be small, according to reports.

A Sept. 21 Apple product support advisory explains that it can be within the normal operations of an iPhone, iPad or iPod "to change its behavior to regulate its temperature," according to the advisory.

"Using an iOS device in very cold conditions outside of its operating range might temporarily shorten battery life and could cause the device to turn off," the advisory continued. "Battery life will return to normal when you bring the device back to higher ambient temperatures." Apple iOS devices should be used when ambient temperatures are between 32º to 95º F, according to Apple.

While inconvenient for some iPhone owners, the cold display problem is apparently not as significant as several other iPhone performance issues have been in the past. 

In August 2016, Apple was sued in a class action lawsuit over allegations that many of its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus smartphones had a known defect that caused the handsets' touch-screens to become unresponsive and ultimately fail.

The so-called iPhone "touch disease" appeared on an affected iPhone as a gray bar along the top of the display after it becomes unresponsive. The problem disabled the phones. The three plaintiffs in the case alleged the company refused to repair phones that exhibited the condition and concealed a design defect that plagued the devices.

The issue was related to two touch-screen controller chips on the main system board inside the handsets, the lawsuit alleged. The chips were allegedly not properly secured to the logic board and could fail from normal wear and tear, according to the suit.

In another incident in February 2016, Apple apologized to iPhone owners and issued a patched version of its iOS operating system after an undisclosed number of iPhones were rendered inoperable by an "Error 53" security feature which was built into the devices when they were assembled.

The affected iPhones had been repaired by third-party service centers using non-Apple parts, which triggered the error message as a security feature, according to Apple. The Error 53 message was designed to come on if the phone's built-in fingerprint ID mechanism or its cable was replaced by someone who was trying to gain access to the device. However, the error message also appeared after a phone was simply repaired.

In July 2010, Apple dealt with antenna issues on its then-new iPhone 4 that were inspired by consumer complaints of poor call quality when they held their phones. Called Antennagate by late Apple CEO Steve Jobs at the time, the problem was the location of the antenna inside the devices, which was solved with an add-on thin rubber case.