A man answering a phone call while shoveling his driveway.
Andrii Medvednikov/Shutterstock.com

Just because it’s chilly out doesn’t mean you have to struggle with your phone. Touch-screen compatible gloves keep your hands warm and your phone accessible even in icy cold weather.

How Do Smartphone Gloves Work?

Modern smartphones have a capacitive screen that responds to the electrical charge of your fingertip—which is why when you try to swipe on your phone with a pair of regular gloves on, nothing happens. The tip of your glove doesn’t have the same electrical signature as your finger, and the digitizer under the screen doesn’t respond.

Smartphone-compatible gloves solve that problem—with varying degrees of success—by embedding electrically conductive material in the glove, turning the tip of one or more of the fingers into what amounts to a screen stylus you wear on your fingertip.

As a general rule, the thicker and warmer the glove, the less effective and accurate it will be. Every pair of capacitive-capable gloves we’ve used over the years has been able to perform basic functions like unlocking a phone, triggering the camera, and tapping to open apps—but those are, relatively speaking, large phone gestures.

When it comes to fine-motor gestures like tapping on the on-screen keyboard, bulkier heavy winter gloves rarely work well. With thinner lightweight gloves, however, you’ll likely find you can peck out a brief message with minimal errors.

We say that not to dissuade you from buying smartphone-compatible gloves but simply to calibrate your expectations. You’ll be able to unlock your phone or answer a call, but you’ll want to lean on voice dictation for firing off lengthy messages.

These Gloves Will Keep Your Phone Accessible

There are quite a variety of smartphone-compatible gloves on the market. Let’s look at some recommendations in some broad categories based on how and where you use your phone, as well as cold it gets in your locale.

Regardless of what kind of gloves you get, we recommend you always buy a pair with some sort of grip texture—especially if you don’t use a case with your phone. Many modern phones, like the iPhone, are unbelievably slippery, even when you’re not wearing gloves.

Knit Gloves Are Great General Purpose Gloves

Some of the most popular touch-screen gloves on the market are simple knit gloves like these options from Trendoux.

Trendoux Anti-Slip Knit Touchscreen Gloves

They look like classic knit winter gloves, but they feature touch-screen friendly fingertips and a grippy palm to keep your phone out of the slush.

The knit design is warm, stretchy enough not to feel constricting, and the triangular grip pattern—a bit reminiscent of hospital socks—will ensure your phone “sticks” to your hand despite the slipperiness of the knit weave.

Running Gloves Are Warm But Sleek

Shop around for touch-screen gloves, and you’ll quickly come across warmer gloves with a light liner and a waterproof layer intended for cold-weather outdoor activities where you want to keep your hands warm and dry but without a lot of bulk.

FanVince Running Gloves

Lightweight, warm, and water-resistant, these gloves are great if you need more insulation and protection than knit gloves offer.

If you’re not snowmobiling for hours and just looking for something to keep the wind out and your hands warm, these gloves are a good pick between knit gloves and heavier ski gloves.

Dress It Up With Fancier Gloves

Many smartphone-compatible gloves look a bit utilitarian and out of a place with a nice dress coat. Thankfully there are plenty of dress glove options to choose from. Isotoner has multiple smart-phone compatible options like these women’s and men’s dress gloves.

Isotoner Touchscreen Dress Gloves

These gloves fit snuggly and offer good dexterity without the outdoor sporty look.

If you’re looking for a more classic and understated leather glove, there’s no shortage of options there, either like these women’s and men’s gloves from Lands’ End.

For Extreme Cold, Use Glove Liners

While there are bulky ski-style gloves on the market with touch-screen compatibility, they all suffer from dexterity issues we highlighted earlier in the article. If you want them, they’re out there, and they’ll work well enough to answer a call, but we have a better suggestion.

Rivmount Touchscreen Glove Liners

These lightweight glove liners feature conductive fingertips. Wear bulky ski gloves to stay warm, and these liners to keep the chill away when you stop to use your phone.

Instead, buy touch-screen compatible glove liners. You can keep your hands warm when you’re snow blowing, snowmobiling, or otherwise out in the cold for an extended period of time, but when you use your phone you can pull your hand out of your bulkier and warmer ski gloves and give your phone a quick tap.

Profile Photo for Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Senior Smart Home Editor at How-To Geek. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at How-To Geek, Review Geek, LifeSavvy, and Lifehacker. Jason served as Lifehacker's Weekend Editor before he joined How-To Geek.
Read Full Bio »