Modern day capacitive touchscreens require the conductivity of human skin to register a touch. On the other hand, using the phone bare-handed in the sub-freezing temperatures up in the mountains is not a pleasant experience, so we appreciate when a smartphone supports a high sensitivity touchscreen mode to allow its use with regular gloves. No doubt, you could get one of those specially made gloves that are compatible with regular touchscreens, but we're talking some of the most expensive smartphones on the market here. Why not expect all bells and whistles, then?
The high sensitivity touch mode or Glove mode, as some call it, usually boosts the screen sensitivity at the expense of battery life so that it can sense your fingers through (not so thick) gloves. The Galaxy Note5 had a high-sensitive mode by default and there is no toggle for that. Thicker gloves, however, would require you to press harder for your fingers to be recognized.
The Huawei Mate 8 also has a dedicated glove mode and by toggling it to on, you can use its screen with a thicker pair of warm gloves.
It's worth noting that it was only the Note5 again that allowed us to activate the camera and take a few shots without even touching the screen. You activate the camera by a double tap, and you can take photos using the volume keys.
The Mate 8 has a camera shortcut as well - double pressing the volume down button. But the key lacks the responsiveness needed to press it twice in a rapid succession with gloved fingers or with cold fingers, for that matter. So it's almost as if the feature wasn't there.
Handling the Apple iPhone 6s Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note5 is far from ideal, especially in cold weather. If you are using the phones without gloves - with numb and clumsy hands - there is a substantial risk of dropping them. Even with fingers, the slippery phones are still quite easy to drop. We strongly recommend opting for some case before taking either of the phones on such an adventure.
The same applies for the Meizu Pro 5, as well.
On the other hand - the plastic and durable LG V10 is perfectly fine to be used outside without a case. The grippy materials provide for an excellent grip, regardless whether you have your gloves on or not.
The Huawei Mate 8 could just as well be used without a case though its metal shell will get quite cold and you won't be able to use it without gloves for long. Luckily, it's in the rare Glove Mode club.
We also tested how the phones fared while shooting time lapses and videos in sub-zero temperatures and we're quite happy with how they fared. Cold weather can be quite taxing on any battery and even though our tests are far from scientific, the phones seemingly handled the exposure to cold differently, so it's worth going through our findings.
The iPhone 6s Plus was the only one that turned off far before its battery was fully depleted on several occasions - and always around the 25%-35% mark. Once we brought it back to a warmer environment, it booted nicely and kept working.
The LG V10 battery was quite sensitive to the cold as well, and its battery was exhausted quicker than usual but, at least, it lasted to the very end.
The iPhone saw its battery run flat within the hour while the LG V10 lasted about two hours of video recording.
Finally, the Note5 and the Mate8 happily endured the cold, losing about a quarter of their battery capacity for each hour of video recording.
The real champ was the Meizu PRO 5, which lost only about 10% of its battery capacity for every hour of use in the cold.
Make note that sub-zero temperatures are usually far from the comfort zones of most phones and manufacturers advise against such usage.