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What Can Happen When Your Phone Overheats?

Tech - by Joe Weber - updated on 7/11/2023

Phone laying out on a towel on the beach

Cell phones, especially smartphones, have become so mainstream that we no longer think about them, they are just part of our lives now. They have even become one of the items in the "pants check" before we leave the house, "Phone, wallet, keys, good to go." We can't live without it, it's our means of communication, our bank and sometimes our livelihood. But, what happens when you have to use it outside in the heat all day or leave it in the hot car for an extended period? Keep reading to see what could happen in those situations and what you can do to keep your phone cooler.

Why is Heat So Bad for Phones?

The ideal operating temperature for your cellphone or smartphone is between 32℉ and 95℉. As we learned in "What Happens When Batteries Overheat?" batteries don't like high temperatures. Pair that with all of the other electronic components in a smartphone and you have quite a sensitive piece of equipment in your pocket.

How Does A Phone Overheat?

There are several reasons why your cell phone could overheat. Two of the most common reasons are:

  • Leaving it in direct sunlight
  • Leaving it in an uncomfortably hot place (like a parked car)

How you use your phone and how frequently you use it can also have a major impact on the temperature of the phone. If you are on your phone all day, the battery is going to be working overtime trying to keep the screen bright, the network connected and the music playing.

Another problem that we often overlook is overcharging. Overcharging the battery will cause the battery temperature to rise, damaging the battery permanently. One way to prevent overcharging is to never leave the phone connected to a charger after the battery has reached 100%.

What Happens When A Phone Overheats?

If all of the conditions line up just right, your phone can absolutely overheat. If your phone overheats you will start to notice several symptoms:

  • Your battery will drain faster
  • Performance will be greatly reduced
  • Your phone could unexpectedly shut down (and sometimes refuse to turn back on)
  • Worst case scenario, your phone CPU (Central Processing Unit) can actually melt if the temperature is high enough.

How Do I Cool My Phone Off If It's Getting Hot?

If you notice that your phone is starting to get warm to the touch, chances are it's even hotter inside the phone and you should try to cool it off as soon as possible.

  1. Move it to a cool area.
    1. You can even use a fan to blow cool air on it if you have one nearby.
  2. Make sure it is not in direct sunlight.
  3. Lower your screen brightness.
  4. Close any apps that are running in the background that aren't necessary.

How Do I Keep My Phone Cool?

Keeping your phone cool is important at all times, not just when it's getting too hot. Use these tips to help you keep your phone cool all the time.

  1. Keep your phone out of a case. Cases are great tools to help protect your phone from drops and other damage but they can also cause the phone to heat up.
  2. Keep your phone in a cooler area. Don't leave your phone sitting on a table in the sun or in your pocket on a hot day. If you have a backpack or messenger bag, keep it in there. It will be out of the sun and it will have more air around it to keep it cooler.

    Note: Do NOT put your hot phone in the refrigerator. Exposure to extreme temperature changes like this can cause moisture to build up inside the phone, causing more problems.

  3. Turn off Bluetooth. If you aren't using anything that is connected via Bluetooth, turn it off. Even just having the Bluetooth antenna on causes more battery usage which can make the phone warm up.
  4. Use airplane mode. If your phone has a low or even no signal, it will work harder to try and find a signal. Turning on airplane mode may mean that you have no connection but it will also help keep the phone cooler by not working as hard.
  5. Keep all of your electronics away from each other. Sitting at your desk and stacking your laptop, tablet and phone together will cause heat to generate between them. Yes, you can keep them on your desk but don't keep them together.

If you are starting to notice some battery issues due to your phone overheating often, bring it into your local Batteries Plus to have a free diagnostics run to see what the problem is. If you do end up needing to have the battery or other components replaced, our experienced repair technicians will fix your phone using high-quality replacement parts at a reasonable price and with a quick turnaround.

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