Phone-chilling weather: Uswitch tips to avoid getting a frosty reception from your tech

by | Dec 11, 2022

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After a mild start to the season, the cold weather is settling in and we’re looking at ways to keep ourselves warm ahead of the winter. However, spare a thought for your gadgets too, as they can sometimes freeze under pressure and struggle to keep up with demands.

Smartphone battery life, screen durability and even broadband routers can all become more vulnerable this time of year.

Here are some handy tips from tech expert, Catherine Hiley at Uswitch.com, to help your devices cope as the temperature plummets:
 

  1. Charge before you go: The biggest toll that chilly weather takes on your handset is how it affects battery life. The lithium-ion batteries found in smartphones are known to struggle in cold temperatures. Be aware of this and give it a full charge before you take it outdoors, as you may find the battery drains quicker than normal.
     
  2. Put a jacket on it: When we brace ourselves for the cold weather outside, we turn to coats, hats and scarves to keep us warm – why should our phones be any different? One of the best ways you can keep your phone warm and avoid battery drain is by keeping it in a protective case that’s insulated from the elements. Keeping it in a secure pocket can also help, as it will benefit from your body temperature.
     
  3. Box clever: If your router is placed in an unheated area like a garage, be mindful of condensation in or around the device, which could seep into the unit. Consider putting it in a small box for insulation with holes for airflow, so it can keep it running smoothly.
     
  4. Prepare for busy networks: When the mercury drops, people tend to stay indoors, which leads to a lot more strain on broadband networks, as bandwidths are stretched by large numbers logging on. So, particularly if we’re in the middle of a cold snap, it’s worth avoiding peak times for data-heavy activities like movie or game downloads. 
      
  5. Check the forecast before you get comfy: Harsh weather can put a strain on any external antennas, such as a Sky dish or a mobile broadband router, so be prepared for the occasional drop in signal. Don’t be surprised if you encounter buffering during an HD film. And, although it’s rare, you may find your TV signal will cut out from time to time.
     
  6. Power down: When your devices are working even harder to fight off the effects of the cold weather, you can make their battery lives easier by turning down the power. If you’re going to be exposed to sub-zero temperatures, turn on low power mode, turn off location services and close down apps running in the background that you’re not using. You could also put it on Airplane Mode to conserve battery, which will still give you access to apps that don’t require an internet connection.
     
  7. Don’t leave them out in the cold: This may seem obvious but it’s something we hear about all the time in the winter months – people leaving their gadgets outside in sub-zero temperatures only to discover they’re not working later on. So if you’re sat outside, keep your phone in a pocket rather than out on a table.
     
  8. Get them backed up: Most laptops are built to work at between 10℃ and 35℃. So if they are exposed to colder temperatures than this, ensure your data is backed up to avoid any loss or damage to the battery life.
     
  9. Insure your tech: The festive period is a time of gift-giving for many households, meaning that a lot of tech gets purchased. When buying a new device, whether it’s a laptop, smartphone, tablet or games console, consider taking out insurance that can cover you against all of the elements. 

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