Overheating Phones: What to Do When Your Smartphone Is Too Hot to Handle

phone in hot car

With temperatures consistently reaching the high nineties or more, leaving your phone in your vehicle can quickly lead to overheating. How do you prevent an overheating phone, and what do you do when you realize your phone has gotten too hot?

Watching movies, playing games, streaming media, surfing the internet — we love to do all of it, and we love to do all of it on our phones. Cell phones have come a long way since the olden days of flip phones, when playing a game of Snake might be the most intensive thing you could do on it (that or trying to type the letter “R” by hitting the “7” three times). No matter how amazing you thought your phone was (I’m looking at you, Razr) none of them could compare to the speed and power that we now hold in our hands today. And as they say, with great power comes great overheating … or something like that.

Have you ever been innocently checking Instagram when suddenly it feels as if someone replaced your phone with a phone-sized Easy-Bake oven? Everyone’s initial reaction is the same: You announce out loud how hot your phone is, let the people around you touch it, they reply with, “Wow. That is hot.” Then they go on about their day, while you’re left wondering what to do with this piece of molten lava now dripping onto your leg. Or maybe you’ve accidentally left your phone in the car and come back to find it inoperative, plastered with a scary warning about overheating.

So how did you get yourself into this horrible position?

Why is Your Phone Overheating in the First Place?

Plain and simple, your phone is one big electronic block. Everything in your phone, from the battery to the screen, is creating and transmitting electricity. All of that electricity generates heat, and that heat has to go somewhere — usually right into your hand.

Long exposure to heat can cause not only the internal parts of the phone to be damaged, but in some cases the battery to leak or explode. No one enjoys an exploding phone, so it’s best to play it on the safe side when you see that your phone is reaching its melting point.

Most phones will give you a warning or simply shut off once they’ve reached a certain temperature, but what can you do to alleviate some of these overheating issues and stop that from happening? We’ve put together a list of a few things you can do to help keep your hot phone cool this summer.

Don’t Leave Your Phone in Your Vehicle

With temperatures consistently reaching the high nineties or more, leaving your phone in your vehicle can quickly lead to overheating. It’s essentially the same as putting your phone in the oven, and if you can bake cookies on your dashboard, then you’ll most likely bake your phone as well. If you need to leave your phone in your vehicle, make sure that it’s at least tucked away in a nice shady spot. It may not completely stop the phone from reaching high temperatures, but it will be much safer than leaving it in direct sunlight.

Buy a Heat Resistant Case

Phone cases that help protect against heat can be purchased for most brands of phones. If you find yourself needing to leave your phone in a hot place like your car or oven, then this might be a great solution for you. A quick Google search for “heat proof phone cases” returns several options for phones of all types. It might be worth it to drop a few extra bucks to help protect your phone if you work outside or have to leave your phone in your car often.

Remove Your Phone Case

I know we just talked about purchasing a heat resistant case, but sometimes the blame for overheating can actually be the case itself. Large protective cases are great for protecting against drops and damage, but sometimes those extra layers of rubber and plastic create a little hot box for your phone to sit in all day. If your phone is overheating and you have a case, try taking it out for a little while and see if it cools down. If it does, then you may want to invest in either a different case or see if there’s something else you can do to help cut down on the heat.

Turn Things off

Apps running in the background, Bluetooth, GPS, wifi — all of these things can add up and lead to your phone overheating. If you feel your phone begin to heat up, take a minute to see if there’s anything that might be turned on that you can turn off. GPS and wifi can be two huge culprits when it comes to overheating phones. Both of these services are constantly scanning and updating, and that can push your phone closer to the phase where it turns from a solid to a liquid. In the same vein, if you’ve had a four-hour Candy Crush marathon and your phone is feeling a little warm, then it might be good to turn it off and take a break for a while.

Turn Down Your Brightness

Although this might not completely solve the overheating problem, it will still help. Your screen produces a lot of heat, and when the brightness is turned all the way up, it just adds to it. Most phones have the ability to enable “auto brightness” where your phone will detect the light of your surroundings and attempt to adjust the screen brightness according to that. If you don’t have this enabled, then you may find that you’ve always had your brightness at “max;” not only could that lead to some of that warm, toasty goodness emanating from your phone, but it also quickly drains your battery.

Check the Battery Itself

Sometimes you just have a bad battery. If the battery itself seems like it’s constantly overheating, then it may be time to pick up a new one. If you take out your battery and notice that it’s warped, bloated, or — especially — leaking, then it’s definitely time to change. Also, if you notice that your battery life just isn’t what it used to be, no matter what you have turned on or off, then it might be time to chunk it and spring for a new one.

Keep Your Cool, but Not Too Fast

In the event that you find yourself with a scorching phone, don’t overreact and attempt to cool the phone down too fast. Many times, people will try and lower the temperature by placing it in a cold place like the fridge or freezer. This can be even more detrimental to the phone than the heat, because it could cause condensation to be trapped inside, and eventually lead to water damage. Electronics and water don’t mix. It’s a very bad thing. If you need to cool your phone down, try blowing on it or fanning it, and let science do the rest. The cool breeze will help pull the heat away from the phone and lower the temperature.

In the end, just remember that a cool phone is a happy phone, and by doing a few simple things you can not only increase the quality of life for your phone and battery, but possibly the quality of your life as well.

a smiling man in a plaid shirt

Jonathan started his career in print design, but he quickly saw the potential of website design. Always looking for a new challenge, Jonathan taught himself development so he could bring his own designs to life; now he’s one of our most talented programmers. He loves board games, card games, and pranking coworkers (not necessarily in that order). Voted Infomedian Most Likely to Write Fantasy Novels, he’s serious about storytelling and is always eager to discuss the plot holes in about whatever popular book/movie/TV show everyone’s talking about. When not at work, Jonathan’s usually hanging out with his wife, Chandra, and their son.


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