What to Do When Your Smartphone Gets Hot

A warm smartphone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s overheating or that something dangerous is happening. Here’s what you need to know.

A warm smartphone doesn’t necessarily mean it’s overheating or that something dangerous is happening.  Today’s phones do a great job of automatically regulating the inside temperature, as needed. Still, there are steps you can take to improve energy efficiency moving forward.

What’s Happens to Make My Phone Warm?

There are only two parts inside a mobile device that can make it warm through regular use, the battery, and the system of a chip, or SoC. When you feel the heat on the back of the device, it’s usually because the metal housing inside the phone is attempting to dissipate the heat to drop the internal temperature.

The chips in today’s smartphones are more efficient than those in previous models, and no doubt, we’ll say the same about future devices. Despite this increased efficiency, you’ll still notice heat to the touch at certain times.

Why is My Phone Warm?

Your device will naturally feel warm during instances such as:

  • Using a processor-intensive app such as a video or music editor.
  • When performing a system software update.
  • File recovery from backup during setup.
  • Intensive gaming that relies heavily on downloading content.
  • Charging your phone — while also using it.

Once you stop performing any of these tasks, your phone’s temperature should return to normal.

There are external factors that can also make your smartphone warm. These can include:

  • Leaving your device in a warm car.
  • Sitting it outside in direct sunlight for a long period of time.
  • A combination of using a processor-intensive app (such as GPS) in a warm environment (such as a car).

Warning Signs

Your phone has been designed to operate within a normal operating temperature range. When the internal temperature moves beyond this range, the phone will attempt to regulate its temperature by performing various short-term tasks, which may include:

  • Dimming the display
  • Temporarily slowing or stopping charging
  • Disabling the camera flash
  • Slowing the performance levels for graphics-intensive or augmented-reality apps or features.
  • Weakening the cellular radio signal

It’s Too Hot

When your device gets too hot, you’ll see one of two warning messages on display.

The first alert, which only shows when you’re using the device’s navigation system, states: “Temperature: iPhone needs to cool down.” During this time, navigation is limited to audible turn-by-turn directions only, except when you’re approaching a turn. At this time, the phone display illuminates to guide you.

When you see a similar message, “Temperature: iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it,” phone use is restricted to making emergency calls.

To bring everything back online, turn your phone off and move it to a cooler location. Once your phone cools down, reboot it.

What’s the Temp?

According to Apple, iOS devices work best when the ambient temperature is between 0º and 35º C (32º to 95º F). When storing your device, it recommends a temperature of between -20º and 45º C (-4º to 113º F) only.

Troubleshooting and What You Can Do

There are several proactive steps you can take to make sure your phone doesn’t overheat. Most involve performing regular maintenance on your device.

Be Aware of the Outside Temperature

It sounds simple enough, but make sure you’re not using or storing your device under excessively cold or warm conditions. For the latter, this might be as easy as not leaving the phone in your car during a hot summer day. Direct sunlight should also be avoided. Note that placing your phone inside near a sunshine-filled window is just as bad as sitting it near a pool outside for an extended interval.

Don’t Do More Than You Should

Like almost everything in life, you can have too much of a good thing when it comes to your smartphone. Doing anything on your device for too long is going to warm its temperature, sometimes to the point where it needs to take a break and cool down. No, this doesn’t mean you can’t stream your favorite movie or have to stop surfing the web after a few minutes. However, you should be aware that continued usage of anything could eventually cause a short-term heating issue.

Examples when disruptions could occur include:

  • Using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi excessively
  • Excessively taking photos or videos
  • Gaming for hours at a time
  • Streaming every episode of The Office without taking a break
  • Not using the auto-brightness feature on your phone
  • Running too many apps at the same time

Is it Malware?

Though rare, your iPhone may be overheating because of Malware. If this is the case, you should run a malware scan soon and correct the problem. There are various malware-related products on the market, including Avast Security & Privacy, Avira Mobile Security, and Lookout, among others. Note that these are also apps available for Android. And unfortunately, Android phones are more susceptible to malware overall.

When in Doubt

If you’re still convinced there is something wrong with your device that’s causing it to feel like it’s overheating, get some professional help from Apple or an Apple Authorized Service Provider. Or, if you’re an Android user contact the manufacturer’s tech support.

These folks can examine your phone (even remotely) and determine very quickly whether there’s a problem. Before contacting support, make sure you’ve followed the troubleshooting steps above. Your contact is likely to ask you which steps you took before contacting tech support.

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