Overheating is a common issue that can affect any smartphone. Excessive heat can cause serious damage to the delicate electronics inside your phone. But how hot is too hot? And at what point does overheating start to pose a risk to your device? Here’s what you need to know about phone overheating and how to prevent it.
What causes phones to overheat?
There are several potential causes of phone overheating:
- Using resource-intensive apps, especially for extended periods
- Charging with fast chargers
- Using your phone in direct sunlight or other hot environments
- Having lots of tabs and apps open at once
- Playing graphics-intensive games
- Using GPS navigation for a long time
- Downloading or uploading large files
- Streaming high-resolution videos
- Using a phone case that doesn’t allow for heat dissipation
- Having an old battery that can no longer hold a full charge
Basically, any task that causes your processor to work hard for an extended time can contribute to overheating. The internal components simply generate more heat than the phone can efficiently dissipate.
What temperatures can damage a phone?
Most phones are designed to withstand and operate normally in temperatures up to 95°F (35°C). Once you start nearing 105° to 113°F (40° to 45°C), you’re entering risky territory.
Prolonged exposure to temperatures above 113°F (45°C) can cause damage such as:
- Lithium-ion battery degradation
- Damage to the processor chip
- Screen glitches or discoloration
- Damaged solder connections
At extreme temperatures above 140°F (60°C), the internal components can become completely irreparably damaged.
How hot can a phone get before danger?
As a general rule of thumb, most phones should not exceed temperatures of 113°F (45°C) when being used. Here are some key danger zones:
- At 122°F (50°C) – Performance starts throttling down to prevent overheating.
- At 131°F (55°C) – Some warning messages or shutdowns may occur.
- At 140°F (60°C) – Severe risk of component damage.
Of course, brief temperature spikes are not necessarily harmful. But the maximum values indicate when heat is reaching unsafe levels during sustained usage.
What are the warning signs of an overheating phone?
Here are some of the common warning signs that your phone may be overheating:
- It feels very hot or warm to the touch
- The back gets hot near the camera area
- Your display dims on its own or has areas of discoloration
- You get a temperature warning message
- The phone turns off unexpectedly
- Apps stutter, lag, or stop responding
- The phone stops charging properly
- Battery life drops dramatically
Pay attention to these early warning signs and don’t ignore them. Overheating can be progressive, so minor issues now may turn into bigger problems if allowed to continue.
Should you stop using an overheating phone?
If your phone feels uncomfortably warm or hot to the touch, yes you should stop using it. Exposing an overheating phone to continued intensive usage will only make the situation worse.
As soon as you notice signs of excessive heat, exit any demanding apps you have open, stop activities like gaming or navigation, and turn on airplane mode. This lets the phone cool down while preventing background processes from kicking in.
You may get a temperature warning from your phone suggesting you power down until it cools off. It’s important to heed this advice promptly to prevent any potential damage.
Does wireless charging make phones overheat?
Wireless charging does generate some heat, but not usually enough to dangerously overheat a phone by itself. However, charging while using other demanding apps can push temperatures higher.
If you notice your phone getting hot while wireless charging, it’s best to avoid using apps until charging is complete. Also make sure to use a certified charging pad and compatible charger to prevent excess heat generation.
Do phone cases cause overheating?
Certain phone case designs can contribute to overheating, especially thicker, more insulating cases that trap heat inside.
The best phone cases allow airflow through heat-dissipating vents or cutouts. Make sure your case isn’t made of materials that absorb and retain heat around your phone.
How can I keep my phone from overheating?
Here are some tips to prevent overheating issues:
- Don’t leave your phone in direct sunlight.
- Avoid prolonged intensive usage like gaming or navigation.
- Close background apps when not needed.
- Use a phone case optimized for cooling.
- Turn off phone features like Bluetooth when not in use.
- Disable background app refresh and notifications.
- Clear out old texts, emails, apps, files.
- Replace aged batteries that can no longer hold a charge.
- Use your phone in cooler environments when possible.
- Turn down screen brightness.
- Avoid wireless charging for long periods.
Following phone best practices will keep your device running smoothly without overtaxing its internal components.
How can I cool down an overheated phone?
If your phone is already overheating, these tips may help cool it down:
- Turn it off or restart it.
- Remove protective case temporarily.
- Move to a cooler location if outside.
- Point a fan directly at the phone.
- Put the phone in front of an A/C vent.
- Set it on a cool surface like a metal table.
- Avoid holding it against your body heat.
Once cooled, be cautious about immediately jumping back into resource-heavy usage. It’s a good idea to identify what caused the overheating initially and address that issue.
When should I be concerned about overheating damage?
Occasional brief overheating incidents are not necessarily harmful. But if your phone regularly overheats even during normal use, that’s a sign something is wrong.
Likewise, if you notice degraded battery life, unexpected shutdowns or performance issues after overheating episodes, your phone may be damaged.
Severe overheating incidents, especially those requiring you to put the phone in a fridge or that leave visible screen discoloration, likely indicate component damage.
Remember that overheating can be a progressive problem. At the first signs of unusual heat or temperature warnings, take steps to address the issue before it escalates.
Should I replace my phone if it keeps overheating?
If your phone overheats frequently, especially during routine use, then replacement may be the smartest option. Chronic overheating can progressively degrade the lithium-ion battery, processor, display and other components.
Continuing to use an overheating phone means you risk more serious failures down the line. Replacing the device before permanent damage occurs can save you money and trouble.
Before replacing your phone, try basic steps like rebooting, removing your case, deleting unnecessary apps and files, or replacing an aged battery. If overheating persists, then it may be time for an upgrade.
Can phone overheating cause a fire?
It’s extremely rare, but phones that severely overheat can pose a fire risk under the right conditions. Lithium-ion batteries are highly flammable when damaged.
If a battery has been degraded by heat and continues charging at high temperatures, it increases the chance of thermal runaway. This is when the battery essentially overheats from the inside out.
Loose battery replacements made with cheap or knockoff cells also have a higher risk of overheating and catching fire.
While the chance of a critical phone battery failure is very low, extreme overheating scenarios can make it more likely, especially when warning signs are ignored.
How can I tell if overheating damaged my battery?
Some signs your battery may be damaged from overheating include:
- Reduced battery capacity and life
- Phone getting hot while charging
- Slow or irregular charging
- Unexpected shutdowns with battery above 0%
- Swelling or puffing of the battery
- Cracked or damaged battery casing
Batteries naturally lose some capacity over time. But if you notice a significant drop in your runtime after overheating issues, the battery has likely sustained damage.
Extreme overheating can degrade lithium-ion batteries through accelerated wear and internal structural changes. Replacing the battery may be necessary.
Does overheating affect other components?
In addition to batteries, excessive heat can also damage these phone components:
- Display – Overheating can damage display pixels leading to discoloration or spots.
- Processor – Chips can throttle performance or sustain permanent damage when overheated.
- Camera – Solder connections to image sensors can melt, causing camera failure.
- Memory – Overheating degrades storage components like RAM and flash memory.
- Solder – High temperatures loosen or melt internal solder points.
- Adhesives – Glues and tapes can soften, compromising device structure.
The lithium-ion battery is most vulnerable, but sustained high temperatures degrade all heat-sensitive electronics over time.
How can I monitor my phone’s temperature?
There are a few ways to monitor your phone’s internal temperature:
- Use a monitoring app – Some provide real-time temperature readouts.
- Notice warming patterns – Where is the heat concentrated?
- Use an IR thermometer – Point at the phone to get a surface temperature.
- Follow warning prompts – Heed any on-screen overheating alerts.
Apps only provide estimates, but are handy for spotting usage patterns causing spikes. Pay most attention to any manufacturer warning messages.
Is it safe to use an overheated phone?
No, you should avoid using an overheated phone as much as possible. The elevated temperatures put additional strain on components already operating above normal limits.
If your phone feels uncomfortably warm and you get a temperature warning, stop intensive usage. Switch off data connections and background syncing to allow it to cool down.
Continuing to game, stream or navigate with an overheated phone will likely just make matters worse. Power down and let the phone rest until internal temperatures are within normal operating range.
Can I fix an overheated phone myself?
There are a few basic steps you can try yourself initially:
- Remove protective case and clean out any dust buildup
- Update software in case it’s a thermal management bug
- Reset phone to clear any rogue apps
- Replace swollen or aged battery
Beyond that, you’ll likely need professional phone repair for any advanced diagnostics or repairs involving component-level overheating damage. Don’t attempt to open the phone yourself.
How can I prevent phone overheating in hot weather?
Use these tips to prevent overheating when temperatures rise:
- Park your car in the shade so the interior stays cooler.
- Switch on A/C or roll down the windows when driving.
- Avoid leaving your phone enclosed in a hot car.
- Put phone in front of a fan or portable A/C in your house.
- Turn off GPS and mobile data when not needed.
- Don’t charge and use intensively at the same time.
- Set brightness lower to reduce heat generation.
Keeping your phone already cool before heading out prevents compounding external heat. Avoid trapping it in hot environments like cars on sunny days.
Does cold weather affect phone batteries?
Yes, cold temperatures can temporarily reduce battery capacity and lifespan in phones. Lithium-ion batteries suffer reduced performance below 32°F (0°C).
In freezing weather, you may notice faster battery drain. Storing your phone in an inner pocket helps keep it warmer and extends runtime.
Batteries recover when brought back to room temperature. Permanent damage from cold exposure only occurs under extreme subzero conditions not typically encountered by phones.
Can I use a case to prevent overheating?
A well-designed phone case can aid cooling, but a poorly ventilated case may trap heat. Look for these features in an overheating prevention case:
- Vents along the back and sides
- Openings along ports and buttons
- Thin, thermally conductive materials like graphite
- External fan attachments
Avoid completely sealed silicone cases that prevent air circulation. Also watch out for metallic casings that boost cell reception but retain heat.
Overheating is a serious threat to the internal components and battery life of smartphones. While occasional brief temperature spikes are normal, sustained overheating can lead to cumulative damage of sensitive electronics.
Be mindful of warning signs like unexpected shutdowns, throttled performance and battery degradation. Avoid intensive usage scenarios that tax your phone during hot weather. Monitor phone temperatures and stop use during concerning overheating episodes.
With proper precautions and prevention, you can help keep your phone operating safely for years before excessive heat poses a problem. But uncontrolled overheating will progressively damage any smartphone over time, so keep a close eye on your device.