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February 08, 2019

Phone Overheating? What Causes It and How to Stop It

phone overheating

Where there’s energy, there’s heat. When you turn on your smartphone, billions of electrons shuttle around its computer circuits, enabling your device’s camera, apps, games, and calls to work. While these actions normally create heat, overheating can cause your cell phone to:

  • Seriously reduce performance
  • Drain the battery
  • Shorten the device’s life span
  • Melt the central processing unit (CPU)
  • In a worst-case scenario, cause an explosion

If your phone is overheating, a software or hardware defect could be the cause. But before you jump to that conclusion, consider these common issues that cause a phone to overheat and how to prevent it.

Why does my phone get hot?

You’ve been watching videos or playing games for hours. Streaming movies or playing games for long periods of time taxes your phone’s CPU. If the phone is charging while you’re playing, it can become hot and reduce the battery’s performance.

You have too many apps running at once. Every app running in the background taps into your phone’s processor, its memory (called RAM), and its battery. The more apps you have, the higher the energy demand. App updates often fix software bugs than can degrade your phone’s efficiency and performance, so be sure to update your apps to keep this from happening.

You have a bad signal. Your phone is always working to find a signal, whether it be cellular, WiFi, or Bluetooth. If you’re in a location with a weak cellular signal or no WiFi, your phone is working overtime, putting more energy into the mobile antenna.

Your phone has been sitting in the sun. Did you place your phone on a sunny windowsill? In a hot car? On the concrete steps to your back porch? You probably didn’t put it there on purpose, but leaving your phone in a very hot location can turn the metal and glass components into a mini oven that bakes the delicate computer components inside.

How to cool down your phone

If you find your phone starting to overheat, try to cool it down by removing the protective case, switching to low-power mode, or putting the phone in a shady area. Dimming the screen’s brightness and immediately turning off GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi — even going into airplane mode — will help reduce the device’s energy demands.

Whatever you do, don’t put an overheated phone in the refrigerator or freezer. Although both iPhones and Androids are designed to be used at temperatures as low as 32 degrees Fahrenheit, huge swings in temperature and exposure to moisture can damage your phone beyond repair.

How to stop a phone from overheating

Prevention is the best medicine when it comes to keeping your phone from overheating. Unless a software or hardware defect is causing your phone to overheat, you should be able to prevent it from getting too hot. These simple tips go a long way toward prolonging the life of your phone and battery.

Use the right charger. Chargers have different wattages, and many phone chargers are optimized for a specific brand. Avoid purchasing cheap cords or cables made by third-party manufacturers. Opt for those made by your phone manufacturer. Charge your phone on a hard, flat surface, such as your counter, instead of a soft, insulating surface like a couch or mattress.

Do some house cleaning. Close out apps you’re not using. Delete those you no longer use and, if needed, update those you want to keep. Adjust the settings on your phone to dim the screen.

Install apps that clean and monitor your device. Cleaner apps, such as Clean Master and Power Clean, remove junk files from your phone and identify apps that are hurting your phone’s or its battery’s performance. Consider downloading antivirus software to prevent unwanted malware from infecting your device and draining its power behind your back.

Avoid direct sunlight. This one seems obvious, but we all get distracted. Keep your phone in the shade and don’t leave it in a hot car or place it on a hot surface, like a radiator or stove top.

Smartphones pack a huge amount of energy and computing power into a tiny package, and although the latest phones are built to withstand everyday situations and some temperature range, none are immune to overheating. Learn to recognize the reasons your phone gets hot and take simple steps to prevent it. And if you do happen to damage your phone beyond repair, check out our selection of mobile phones.