Feeling the effects of this cold winter? So is your phone

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| February 11, 2014

We often describe our phones as our closest friend - not just physically, but mentally as well. We are in a peculiar place where we always feel the need to carry our phones with us, and although it might seem like keeping our phones under our watchful eye at all times might seem like the only necessary precaution to ensure our phones don't get damaged, things are a little more complicated than they might seem. You are probably already aware of the adverse effects of hot weather on a smartphone, but did you know that cold weather can have negative effects as well? It's true! So with all of this widespread cold weather in multiple parts of the world, it seems like a good time to remind our readers how to keep your phone from being frostbitten while you're out and about.

Probably the easiest way to keep your phone safe from drastically cold temperatures is by keeping your phone warm with a coat. No, we don't mean buying a coat for your phone (although I guess that would be kind of cute), but by sharing the coat you're probably already wearing outdoors with your smartphone. Most winter coats are very insulated, and are made to better protect you from the cold. Fortunately, this also works for gadgets. While putting your phone in your jeans pocket can have a similar effect, most pants pockets still have an opening at the top that can let cold air in. For best results, you should try putting your gadget in a coat pocket with a zipper.

Somewhere you want to avoid storing your phone is anywhere that ends up touching or rubbing against your skin for long periods of time. Although it's cold outside and you might think that body heat will keep things in check, unfortunately sweat can still be produced even in cold temperatures. Moisture and electronics are not good friends, and in the end this might render your phone liquid damaged, which can be a pain in the neck to deal with later if something else goes wrong with your phone. While body heat can help keep your phone protected, putting it in a coat pocket close to your body is still the best option for keeping your phone warm.

This next tip for protecting your phone from cold weather might sound silly, but it works: keep your phone protected by putting it in a sealed plastic bag. This can keep it protected from unexpected sweat and, when you find you need to take it out of your pocket during harsh weather conditions, snow. It's also good to have a plastic bag handy for days where it's just rainy as well, that way if you drop it in a puddle you won't have a heart attack. I know, I know; it sounds kind of dorky, but honestly, I'd rather look dorky than having to wait and pay for a replacement if I can help it. 

Although I mentioned earlier that we typically like to carry our phones with us all of the time, there is still the option of leaving it behind, particularly if you know you're going to be out and about in a place where it could get easily lost. Winter is the time of year when a lot of people find they go on weekend ski or snowboarding trips, and whether you're on a lift towards the top of the mountain or speeding down the slope means an increased risk for dropping or falling on your smartphone, which is something that no plastic bag is able to save you from. Although the thought of leaving your smartphone at home can be devastating, it might be the best thing to do with such an expensive item. However, to make sure you do have a phone in the case of an emergency, it would still probably be a good idea to bring along a cheap phone with some minutes and texts available on it. 

However, if you do end up deciding that you'd like to snap a picture or two and your smartphone is just the gadget to do so during such adventures, making sure that your phone is getting very little exposure to the cold air is important. Much like our skin is prone to issues like frostbite after long periods of exposure to cold air, our smartphones can also suffer irreperable damages if left out for too long. A quick photo here and there likely won't have any ill effects, but long texting conversations or web browsing sessions can. 

While none of these tips are guaranteed to keep your phone 100% safe, they're good to know to decrease the risk of damaging your phone. It's also a good time to bring up that insurance is always an option for your smartphone. Even if your carrier doesn't offer it, or if you're not impressed with the plan or the prices they have to offer, you can always look into other companies who specialize in smartphone insurance for different rates and plan features as well. As somebody with a toddler and a tendency to be clumsy, I always carry smartphone insurance with me. The folks over at Protect Your Bubble were kind enough to share these tips with us in order to help our readers prevent smartphone mishaps, but in the case that something does go wrong, you may want to consider getting smartphone insurance beforehand if you don't already have it - just in case. 

Readers, when was the last time you encountered a smartphone mishap? Has your phone ever suffered from extreme temperatures, whether it was from being too hot or too cold? Share your stories with us in the comments below!

Images via Chicago Tribune, CNN