Saturday, March 15, 2008

Northern iPhone woes: Canada is just too cold for iPhone?

Lots of folks are wondering why exactly the iPhone wasn’t released in Canada yet. Some think that it’s because of the iPhone trademark uncertainty, others blame Rogers’ data plan rates, yet others just don’t consider Canada to be an important market for Apple.

But the answer may be much more simple than conspiracy theory buffs expect it to be: the iPhone simply was not designed to operate in cold temperatures.

This winter brought the coldest weather in recorded Canadian history, with temperatures staying stable at below -20° C (-4° f) for weeks. In the meantime, Apple clearly states that the operating temperature for iPhone is 0° to 35° C (32° to 95° F), while the “nonoperating temperature” is -20° to 45° C (-4° to 113° F).

canadian winter
Montreal, Canada. March 14, 2007. Photo taken from iPhone.

This writer witnessed first hand what using the iPhone in “nonoperating temperature” means — while walking home last night and attempting to use the iPhone at around -22 ° C (-7 ° F), the multitouch screen function simply stopped responding. It was possible to tap on applications in order to open them, but the scrolling feature became completely unavailable (meaning that switching between springboard screens became impossible, as well as browsing, games, and many other programs that require multitouch input). Yet again, after getting back home everything started functioning as normal.

While we can’t say with certainty that this is the one issue that’s stopping iPhone from coming to Canada, just by simple calculations it turns out that Canadians would need to operate their iPhone in “nonoperating temperatures” for about 4 months a year (that’s not counting the folks that live in the Northern part of Canada, for whom winter lasts about 6 months a year) — thus opening a door to potential lawsuits, among other things.

It remains to be seen whether Apple will release another, more frost-resistant iPhone version especially for the Canadian market, but it’s clear that the current one simply doesn’t cut it for Canadian weather — when the latter gets bad.

Apple Canada PR did not provide a comment to this story at the time of posting, but we’ll let you know if they get back to us.


1 comment:

JJMcWank said...

You do realize that many US states border with Canada and experience the same nasty cold winters that we do right? I HIGHLY doubt that this has anything to do with the stall.