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iPhone, Samsung Galaxy batteries may be drained by bitter cold on Long Island

A woman checks her mobile phone outside Lincoln

A woman checks her mobile phone outside Lincoln Center. (Feb. 9, 2013) (Credit: AP)

If you’re planning on braving the cold today with your smartphone in tow, you’ll likely find an unsettling surprise. Your phone’s lithium battery will lose its charge rapidly.

The lithium batteries that power popular devices, including the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones, are sensitive to the conditions in which they’re used. When they’re used in very cold conditions, battery life decreases.

Newsday.com community journalist Tara Conry experienced this first hand while covering the snowstorm that has left parts of Long Island under more than a foot of snow. She said her phone's battery life fell to 10 percent from about 50 percent while using it outside between 9 and 10 this morning.


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"Then when I plugged it back into my car charger it shot back up to 48 percent for only a second and then down to 4 percent," she said.

As inconvenient as that may be in the moment, fear not -- the diminished charge is completely temporary.

“Once molecules in the battery warm up, the battery will return to its previous capacity,” according to the Apple website.

If you’re desperate for every last ounce of juice, you can still try to resort to the usual battery-saving techniques in very cold temperatures. These include reducing the brightness of your screen (the biggest battery drainer on modern smartphones), turning off Bluetooth, using Wi-Fi whenever possible, fetching data (such as emails and push notifications) less frequently and locking your phone when it’s not in use.

Most of these functions can be customized in your phone’s settings page.

By the way, if the perfect end to your day in the snow involves cozying up to a fire, be sure to keep your phone at a safe distance. Temperatures greater than 95 degrees Fahrenheit can also have adverse effects on your phone’s battery life, and unlike the temporary distresses of cold weather, heat’s influence is irreversible.  

Tags: battery life , smartphones , apple , samsung , iphone , samsung galaxy , lithium batteries , smartphones

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