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Mobile devices at risk in extreme cold weather

Tuesday - 1/7/2014, 5:23am  ET

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Mobile devices don't like cold weather, either. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

WASHINGTON - The frigid weather isn't just miserable for people, animals, cars and heating bills.

Mobile devices can take a beating when the temperatures plummet.

Keeping a phone, tablet or laptop powered is extra challenging with temperatures close to zero.

"Extreme cold weather can cause the battery to drain faster than it normally would," says Ryan Joyce, area retail sales manager for AT&T.

The phone itself is more easily damaged with the icy temperatures.

"Prolonged exposure can make the phone's hardware more brittle," says Joyce. "It can lead to cracked screens, especially on devices with glass."

Turning on the device while it's still cold can cause condensation to form inside the screen, he says.

Netbooks can suffer permanent damage if left in the "sleep mode" Joyce says.

The key to avoiding cold-related problems is keeping the device out of the elements, he says.

"Bluetooth is a great option," Joyce says. "You can operate the phone and keep it in your pocket where it's going to stay warm.

Joyce says avoid storing devices where they are likely to get cold.

"Don't leave it in your car if you're going on a long trip. If you're going skiing or snowboarding, don't leave it in your car all day. Take it with you."

Keep the device inside your home while shoveling snow or sledding, Joyce says.

"Because not only do you expose it to the cold, then you have the chance of getting it wet."

Joyce recommends keeping devices in protective cases.

"Lifeproof or OtterBox are waterproof, drop-resistant, and dirt proof," he says.

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