Why is my phone overheating and how can I stop it from getting hot?

Ofcom claims that on average we check our phones every 12 minutes. Even when the weather warms up, our phone habits don’t change. Our phones are most likely going to stay beside us, capturing those summer memories, messaging friends and family, listening to music and playing on apps while lounging by the pool. But what happens when your phone gets too hot and starts to overheat?

In this guide, we’ll alert you to the types of things that can cause your phone to increase in temperature, what sort of damage this causes, how to cool it down, and how to avoid overheating in the future so that your smartphone lasts for as long as possible.

Why does my phone get hot?

We’re going to get quite technical here, so bear with us! 

Like all electronic devices, our smartphones rely on the movement of electricity to function, as they’re powered by batteries. Billions of electrons travel around your phone’s circuits to enable things like the camera, apps, and games to work. This movement generates heat, which is why your phone can sometimes feel warm after a long phone call, for example. 

Your phone’s internal temperature is greatly affected by the temperature of its surroundings. It relies on regulating the right temperature to function properly - too hot and it can melt; too cold and it can stop working. 

But what causes this sort of increase in temperature, and how can you cool your phone down if it’s overheating?
 

Causes of overheating

There are a number of things that can cause your phone to get hot, both internally and externally. Batteries are usually the root cause of most temperature problems. The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 suffered from several explosions due to a fault in the batteries in 2016, which was causing the smartphones to overheat very quickly. 

While that was a rare case (down to faulty manufacturing), the battery is usually the first to trigger an increase in your phone’s overall temperature. 

Overused

If you’re on your phone a lot, the battery is constantly on the go to keep your device powered and functional. All of those electrical circuits are whirring around and increasing the temperature inside the phone. 

Phones, like people, need their time to rest and cool down. If you’re on it 24/7, it’ll never get a chance to stop working at maximum capacity to keep up with your demands. 

Apps running in the background

When you open apps, they will keep consuming energy in the background unless they’re closed down properly. Too many open apps will drain your battery as well as overheat your phone. 

Streaming videos

Streaming content, like Netflix, YouTube, or games for long periods of time can result in your phone overheating due to the clear graphics and expectations of the audio quality. 

Long calls

If you’ve ever been on a long video call, like FaceTime or Skype, you’ve probably noticed your phone heating up! Video apps require a lot of energy to run, as they’re constantly using your screen, camera and microphone.

Keeping it charged after 100%

Charging your phone isn’t as simple as plugging it in and leaving it. To keep your battery healthy, you should keep it charged between 40% - 80% to avoid applying extra stress and heat onto it. 

Most modern smartphones contain lithium-ion batteries which don’t need to be supercharged to 100% each time. In fact, you should avoid leaving your phone on charge overnight or trying to reach full capacity.

Enclosing it in a pocket

Sometimes phones can get too hot if they’re enclosed in a tight pocket or squashed into a small space with other electronics, like a tablet or laptop. The same goes for placing your phone in a small pocket inside a rucksack. To avoid overheating, make sure there’s room for it to breathe.

Left in the sun

Of course, if your phone is subjected to hot temperatures on the outside, it’s going to warm up internally. Leaving your phone exposed to sunlight is a sure way of damaging the battery. 

Left in a hot car

Similarly to leaving your phone in the sun, trapping it inside a hot car will remove its ability to stay cool, ultimately damaging - and possibly breaking - it. 
 

What does overheating do to my phone?

Allowing (or not preventing) your phone from overheating can result in many performance issues, such as a drained or failed battery, forced shutdown, and, in rare cases, melting. Phones are at their safest to use when their temperature is between 0 and 35 degrees Celsius

If your battery fails, you’ll have to replace it, but this can be very difficult if you have a non-removable battery. If your battery can’t be replaced, you may have to look into buying a new phone altogether, which can be costly and inconvenient. 

If your phone gets too hot, your phone’s CPU could melt, which will render your smartphone completely unusable. 
 

How to cool your phone down 

If your phone has become too hot, here’s some ways you can cool it down to avoid further damage:

  • Turn it off - turning your phone off will allow it to stop processing all of your demands, and focus on cooling down its internal system instead
  • Dim your screen’s brightness - if your front screen is warm, this could be related to your phone’s CPU. Dimming your phone screen will stop your phone from producing so much heat to light it up
  • Keep apps updated - when an app wants to update, it’s usually to fix an issue. Updating these will often improve your phone’s efficiency as they’ll take up less energy
  • Fan your phone - phones don’t have their own built-in fans like computers do to cool them down, so it may be helpful to fan them occasionally if their temperature is rising
  • Remove unnecessary things - if you have a whole range of apps on your phone that you don’t use, consider removing them to clear up storage space and stop your phone from consuming more energy. Additionally, consider turning certain features off so that your phone doesn’t need to keep them running in the background, like location services and Bluetooth
  • Don’t put it somewhere cold - if your phone is hot, don’t try to counteract it by making it suddenly cold using ice cubes or the fridge air. These sudden changes in temperature are just as damaging

Whatever you do, never try to cool it down too drastically. Leaving it alone if it didn’t get too hot is a good idea. If it’s quite warm, you can use a fan or your car’s AC to cool it down. Never put your phone in the freezer!

Now you know how to cool down your phone, it might be helpful to see how you can avoid instances of overheating in the future. 
 

How to avoid overheating in the future 

  • Keep it away from sources of heat - keep your phone out of sunlight, hot vehicles, away from kitchen appliances (like ovens, kettles, and toasters), claustrophobic pockets, and any other source that could generate heat. It’s important to give your phone the space to breathe, so if you’re placing it inside your bag, make sure it’s not tightly packed between layers. If you’re on holiday, keep your phone in the shade, under an umbrella, or inside your beach bag
  • Remove the case - whilst it’s important to keep your phone case on to protect it from accidental drops, on particularly warm days, you should remove the case to prevent heat from staying trapped under the plastic, wood, or leather backing that you’ve placed over your smartphone
  • Keep your phone’s interface clean - by this, we mean making sure that you don’t stack multiple apps and folders over several home screens. This is a lot for your phone to process and, chances are, you don’t use them all. Ever seen a computer home screen with hundreds of apps all over the place? Try not to turn your phone into that
  • Use airplane mode - when you turn airplane mode on, your phone temporarily turns off non-essential features, allowing it to function more simply without all the extra tasks
  • Don’t overcharge it - as we’ve said, your phone performs its best at 40% - 80%. Charging it to 100% too often, or leaving it plugged in overnight, will damage the battery and cause it to get hot, as you’re constantly forcing electricity into it
  • Take breaks while using it - if you need to be on your phone frequently throughout the day, make sure to take breaks to allow it to cool down. You should also take a break from the screen for your own health

If you regulate your mobile usage and keep your phone out of warm places, you probably won’t suffer with any overheating issues. However, it’s important to note that some batteries can simply get too warm from something as small as a phone call. If your phone seems to be overheating very easily, you may want to get your battery checked out.
 

Discover more

We spend just over 76,500 hours attached to our phones, so here’s some more top tips on how to care for your smartphone to prolong its lifespan. 

Just as heat is damaging to a phone, so is water! If you’ve dropped your phone in water, check out how you can save it. You may also be interested in buying a waterproof phone to ease the worry next time. 

Follow us on Twitter for more helpful tips and smartphone tricks, alongside app reviews, and phone brand masterlists from the likes of Apple and Samsung.


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