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I recenty came a across a doubt...

Can a smart phone be used in space?

Obviously you aren't going to get any data signal, but will the functions like touch screen, GPS, accelerometer, vibrator, etc, work? Will anything get affected by gravity or no air?

Sid

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Multiple android based phone satellites have been launched into space. (At least six according to Wikipedia). I haven't looked into which components they tried using in orbit, but the camera obviously worked.

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No. Take an ordinary smartphone and put it in outer space and you've got a big problem: Inadequate cooling. The phone is going to destroy itself with its own heat. Normal conduction and convection cooling will not work, all you have is radiation and at those temperatures it's a small part of the cooling.

Also see this answer to Do Phonesats and GoPros work with their internal batteries in space vacuum?

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  • $\begingroup$ So how does this information apply to the ones that have been successfully placed into space / near vacuum? And still worked? $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Aug 25 '16 at 22:50
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble What are you talking about? Nobody's launched a bare phone. Now, a phone in a larger system can use that system as a heat sink--it's no longer in outer space but in a satellite. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Aug 25 '16 at 22:52
  • $\begingroup$ googlemobile.blogspot.com/2010/12/android-in-spaaaace.html says they launched Nexus 5 phones in styrofoam coolers. $\endgroup$ – Organic Marble Aug 25 '16 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble That's a high altitude balloon, not space. The atmosphere is thin up there but it certainly exists. $\endgroup$ – Loren Pechtel Aug 25 '16 at 22:58
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    $\begingroup$ @OrganicMarble At the very least, the LCD display would stop working. Turns out the L in LCD stands for Liquid. $\endgroup$ – Aron Aug 29 '16 at 0:22
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As an addendum to the other answers, the GPS in a typical smartphone will not work in space--or more specifically orbit--because consumer GPS units have restrictions placed in their firmware which prevent their functioning above a certain altitude and/or speed. A military or scientific-grade GPS would still function though, and GPS is in fact used by many satellites and the ISS.

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  • $\begingroup$ by that logic, the GSM system also wouldn't work because it'd be out of range of GSM networks which are earth bound and have antennae carefully designed to minimise radiation upward in order to conserve power. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Feb 6 at 8:02

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