Why is phone overheating bad?

Phone overheating refers to when a smartphone becomes abnormally hot during use or charging. This is concerning because excessive heat can damage the phone’s internal components and battery. Overheating phones tend to get uncomfortably hot to hold, and may even show warning messages about temperature. Prolonged overheating can cause throttling, slow performance, app crashes, and data loss. In extreme cases, overheating can even pose fire and burn hazards. Understanding the causes, risks, and solutions for overheating phones is important to avoid permanent damage and safety issues.

Causes of Overheating

There are several potential causes of phone overheating, including:

Intensive app usage – When you use resource-intensive apps like gaming or video streaming apps, the phone’s processor has to work much harder resulting in overheating. This is one of the most common reasons for phones getting abnormally hot.

Faulty battery – Lithium-ion batteries used in phones can malfunction and get hot from issues like short circuiting. A swollen, damaged or faulty battery is a common culprit behind overheating phones.

Direct sunlight exposure – Leaving your phone in direct sunlight for extended periods can heat it up significantly, especially inside cars on hot days. The ambient temperature impacts the phone’s internal temperature.

Other causes include wireless charging, software glitches, malware, using a phone while it’s charging, debris in ports, mobile hotspot usage, and more. Intensive operations make components like the CPU and battery work harder, producing excess heat.

Overheating Damages Components

Overheating can cause permanent damage to key components of a smartphone like the battery, display, and motherboard. When a phone overheats, it can degrade the battery’s ability to hold a charge over time. According to PhoneCheck.com, high temperatures put strain on the lithium-ion battery and cause it to lose its maximum capacity faster [1]. An overheated battery may also experience swelling.

Extreme heat can also damage the display and degrade the liquid crystal matrix that creates images. Phone displays are designed to operate at warm but not extremely hot temperatures. Excessive heat can create dead pixels or permanently discolor the screen.

Overheating can also damage the phone’s motherboard which contains the critical processing chips. The high temperatures can ruin soldering connections and warp the board over time leading to permanent device failure. According to Zagg Phone Repair, extreme overheating can fry the logic board rendering the phone unusable [2]. These types of overheating damage often require full device replacement.

Decreased Performance

Overheating can lead to significant performance issues on your phone including lag, freezes, crashes, and random shutdowns. When a phone’s internal components become too hot, it can cause the processor to throttle performance in an effort to cool down. However, this throttling can make apps much slower to respond and use more system resources. Prolonged overheating may also lead to sporadic shutdowns as the phone forcibly powers off to prevent damage to internal parts. Overheating has been known to trigger crashes and lockups as well, suddenly halting any running apps or processes.

According to research on Quora, the high temperatures can damage soldering points and connections on the logic board, leading to glitches and performance instability. Prolonged overheating exacerbates these issues over time. So if you notice your phone lagging, freezing, or restarting when hot, it’s a sign that overheating is taking its toll and steps should be taken to cool it down and prevent further damage.

Shortened Battery Life

Excessive heat exposure can significantly shorten the lifespan of a phone’s battery over time (1). High temperatures put strain on battery chemistry, wearing it out faster through increased chemical reactions and corrosion (2). This leads to permanently reduced charge capacity, meaning the battery doesn’t hold as much energy and needs to be charged more frequently.

Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in smartphones, are particularly susceptible to capacity loss and failure when exposed to high heat over their lifetime (3). The optimal temperature range for Li-ion batteries is 32°F to 113°F – outside this range battery lifespan diminishes rapidly (1). So repeated overheating episodes take a cumulative toll, evidenced by faster battery draining despite full charges.

To maximize your phone battery’s lifespan and capacity, avoid exposing it to excessive ambient heat like direct sunlight or hot car interiors for extended periods. Also be vigilant about detecting overheating issues early and take steps to properly cool your phone.

Data Loss Risk

Overheating poses a significant risk of permanent data loss. When phones overheat, they can abruptly shut down to prevent damage to components. However, sudden shutdowns while the phone is writing data can lead to file corruption and irrecoverable data loss.

According to an article on Quora, hard drives rely on precise mechanical components to read and write data. Excessive heat can cause the drive head to malfunction and fail to write data properly (source). Likewise, overheating causes SSD storage chips to break down over time leading to irrecoverable data loss (source).

Permanent data loss is devastating for both personal and business users. Photos, documents, messages and other irreplaceable data may be lost forever. Companies face significant business disruption, revenue loss, and legal liability from data loss. Phone overheating poses a lurking threat that can result in catastrophic data destruction.

Fire Hazard

Severe overheating can cause phones to catch fire or explode, leading to dangerous situations. Lithium-ion batteries, commonly used in smartphones, are prone to a phenomenon called “thermal runaway” where increasing temperature causes a chain reaction of further temperature increases (1). This can eventually lead to the battery catching fire or exploding. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were over 4,000 fires caused by phones and other mobile devices from 2014-2016 (2).

Overheating situations tend to happen more when the phone is being charged, as quick charging can generate excess heat. However, even phones that are not plugged in can overheat to dangerous levels if left in confined spaces like under pillows, in pockets, or in hot cars. Phone manufacturers warn not to charge devices under pillows or on flammable surfaces. It’s important to stop using a phone if you notice overheating issues, as a serious fire hazard exists if the problem continues unchecked.

1. https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/why-phones-explode-and-how-to-prevent-it-from-happening-to-you

2. https://gitnux.org/cell-phone-fire-statistics/

Skin Burns

Excessive heat from phones can lead to burns on the skin, especially the fingertips. The Quora article “Why does my phone get really hot to the point it burns my fingers” notes that overheating batteries are often the culprit behind hot phones that can burn skin on contact.

As reported in the WREG article “Woman Says Cellphone Caused Second-Degree Burns,” many Galaxy phone users have complained their devices became so hot they caused burns. In severe cases, second-degree burns may result. Touching an overheated screen for prolonged periods can also injure fingertips.

Prevention Tips

There are some simple steps you can take to help prevent your phone from overheating:

Close out of apps, especially processor-intensive ones like games, videos, or navigation apps. Having too many apps open at once makes your phone work harder and heat up faster (How to prevent phone from overheating android, 2021).

Avoid leaving your phone in direct sunlight, such as on a car dashboard or beach towel. The sun’s rays can quickly cause the temperature inside your phone to spike (Why Is My Phone Hot? What Causes Overheating and How …, n.d.).

Use a can of compressed air to gently blow out any dust buildup in the phone’s ports and ventilation openings. Blockages prevent heat from escaping the phone’s internal components (How to prevent phone from overheating iphone, 2022).

When to Seek Repair

If phone overheating happens frequently, especially while charging or during normal use, then it’s time to get your phone evaluated by a professional. Frequent overheating can indicate an underlying problem with the battery, charging port, processor, or other internal components. It’s important to address overheating issues promptly before they lead to more severe damage.

According to Samsung and other Android support articles, you should seek repair right away if your phone overheats and:

  • Shuts down suddenly
  • Won’t turn back on
  • Has swelling or bulging of the battery
  • Feels hot to the touch frequently

Continuing to use an overheating phone can harm internal components like the battery, mainboard, processor or RAM. The longer you wait, the more likely serious issues will occur. Don’t keep charging and operating a phone that’s overheating on a daily basis. Take it to a repair shop to have it inspected and fixed before the problems get worse.

With professional repair, an overheating phone can often be restored to normal function. Technicians can troubleshoot issues, replace damaged parts like the battery, and perform maintenance to stop overheating for good. Seek help promptly when your phone overheats repeatedly.