Brrr-ing your phone in a case or pocket: Cold can affect cell battery

Local News

With temperatures dropping and interest in outdoor winter activities heightened because of the COVID-19 pandemic, UScellular wants to inform the public of the potential impact extreme cold temperatures can have on smartphones.

The lithium-ion batteries in smartphones and other connected devices often create an issue in cold temperatures, a news release says. Lithium-ion batteries contain liquid. When extreme cold temperatures are introduced, the molecules shrink, which causes potential issues for displays, buttons and battery life.

“We typically think of hot temperatures causing issues for smart devices, but extreme cold can do the same. Anything below 32 degrees is going to start slowing down your phone,” said Matt Kasper, UScellular’s director of sales for east Iowa. “We use our smart devices for nearly everything these days, so it’s important to keep them protected in extreme temperatures, so they maintain their functionality.”

If you deal with cold temperatures, here are tips to keep your devices safe and working properly:

1. Charge your device. Because battery power can be reduced in cold temperatures, it’s best to keep your device fully charged to avoid the battery being completely drained in outdoor temperatures.

2. Keep your device in a case. Think about it like a winter jacket. You would not go outside without one, so don’t do that to your phone. When it comes to protecting your phone, a case is a first line of defense. It can create a barrier between your device and the outside elements.

3. Keep your device in a pocket. Humans are a natural source of heat. When you are out in the cold, try to keep your device in a coat pocket rather than in a purse or bag. This will help protect the device from the shock of the freezing conditions.

4. Let your device warm up before you try to use it. For optimal performance, users should avoid storing devices in cold places, such as a parked car. If a phone powers off because of the cold, give it time to warm up to room temperature before you hit the power button. Never use heating sources, such as a blow dryer.

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