the travails of an ipad mini in antarctica


ipad in antarcticaI use the iPad mini [currently a 128GB iPad Mini 3 with Retina Display] for all of my videos, editing and blog posting – borne out of an affinity for the technology, the fantastic video clarity and my need for minimalism.

In a former blog post, The Third Generation iPad vs. 117 Fahrenheit [47c] Moroccan Heat, I wrote about my then 3rd Gen full size iPad and that I was “happy to report that the iPad performed brilliantly, and it did have quite a challenge in the hades-like temperatures in Marrakech: 117F [47C].”  How did the iPad fare in the harsh cold environment of Antarctica?

The iPad Mini uses a Lithium-Ion Battery – they are also inside every iPhone, iPod, and MacBook. Batteries notoriously do not fare very well in the cold and dry Antarctic environment. This is why most all expedition companies warn that batteries lose their charge very quickly and it is a good idea to carry extra batteries when trekking on the continent – and keep them close to your body to maintain a higher temperature. Static created by the dry environment can also wreak havoc on a battery.

According to the Australian government’s Antarctic Division within the Department of the Environment, “all types of battery have reduced performance in the cold; they go flat faster and have less ability to deliver electricity in the cold. Make sure you are using batteries suitable for the temperatures you will encounter in Antarctica. Lithium batteries have several different types of chemistry and some types are usable to below −40 Celsius. Make sure that you have the correct type. Note that you must have the correct battery charger to recharge lithium ion batteries; these batteries are fussy.”

Interestingly, the iPad mini battery performed brilliantly, and I saw only a slight deterioration in its performance from moderate climate usage to the cold of Antarctica. Having said that, when I was not using it during visits to the continent, I put it in a small dry sack and in the large front pocket of my expedition parka, in which it fit perfectly.

Video Camera.
Since I do many vlog posts, the video capabilities are important to me. I can report that the iPad mini videos and stills are beautiful – and rival cameras across the board. The only limitation is that you will not be able to get those close-up shots of wildlife that more sophisticated cameras offer. If this is not important to you and you use it like I do for more long landscape scenes, then the iPad mini is perfect.

An Antarctic Rock Ruined My Day.
While in the middle of my trip and while on the Antarctic Peninsula somewhere near Booth Island, Salpetriere Bay, an unexpected Antarctic wind blew over my iPad mini and the screen hit a rock. It shattered like a windshield. Being in the middle of my trip I was concerned that it would affect the performance of the iPad. When I returned to my expedition ship I found some clear tape and taped the glass [no I did not have a screen protector on] to avoid mini splinters. This worked perfectly and the iPad functioned perfectly throughout the rest of the trip until I was able to get the screen fixed in New York.

The Moral of the Story.
Whether it was 117F [47C] in Morocco, or 10F [-12C] at Vernadsky Research Station, Antarctica, my experience with the iPads has been good and I maintain that in particular the mini is the perfect minimalist solution to facilitate travel blogging.