Is Your Smartphone Overheating?

28 November 2016

Is your smartphone overheating?

Your smartphone is a wonderfully high-tech device. However, similar to a laptop, it’s important to be cautious if your mobile phone feels like it may be overheating. If you notice that it feels hot most of the time, it could end up causing damage to the battery and even the phone itself!

Luckily, there are ways to help prevent this issue, and some solutions are even built into your device itself as safety features. With that in mind, here’s a look at why overheating happens, plus some tips on how to keep your favourite mobile device cool and fully functional.

What Causes Phones to Overheat?

While relatively rare, it’s important to bear in mind that smartphones are among the most ultra-compact, precisely engineered devices out there. In order to implement a large battery, all the expected features such as camera hardware, and plenty of processing power, every microscopic bit of space within the body of the phone has to be extremely well utilized. This is how modern smartphones are thinner, lighter, and even more beautiful than their predecessors of yesteryear.

With this in mind, pushing a phone either too hard or even beyond its capabilities can introduce added strain on the internal components. This includes the battery, which tends to deplete from a full charge much more quickly when performing intensive tasks such as shooting and editing 4K video. Combined, the result of this strain tends to be overheating. Other contributing factors include using the phone while it’s plugged in, using it while it’s bloated with a ton of software and running all sorts of background processes, and keeping it in hot, sunny areas.

What Happens if Your Phone Overheats?

If your phone overheats, the first thing it will do is automatically throttle performance downwards. This is an attempt by the onboard operating system and hardware to work together to reduce strain on the device in an attempt to prevent overheating. During this stage, you’ll see reduced performance, possibly even sluggish behaviour in certain system-intensive apps. If it’s not enough and the device does overheat, typically, it will automatically shut down as a preventative failsafe. iPhones do this, for example, when reaching temperatures of 95 degrees or higher.

Can an Overheated Phone Explode?

Yes, and there have been plenty of examples of this in the past. While rare nowadays and despite the fact that modern smartphones are designed to be as safe and durable as possible, we only need to check news articles of old covering recalls and other problems, such as those faced by the infamous Samsung Galaxy Note 7 due to a design defect. Occasionally, you’ll also hear of a phone overheating and causing damage due to being left plugged in all night long, which isn’t a good thing to do. The primary cause of explosion is when the heat is too intense within the tight confines of the phone, in which case the battery is negatively affected and can even swell, which is typically when the explosion will occur.

Can Hot Batteries Cause a Fire?

Yes, under certain circumstances and only in extreme situations. It’s important to remember that lithium-ion batteries generate heat on their own. A chain reaction, known as a thermal runaway, can result from pent-up stress and strain placed on the device, which only makes this worse. If you’re not careful about how you use the device and don’t attempt to let it cool down. That buildup of heat can sometimes result in combustion of the battery, which can cause a fire or small explosion.

How to Keep Your Phone Cool

Even though the risk of a fire or explosion is extremely low, you need to look after your device in order for it to help look after you. Therefore, consider the following best practices to minimize strain on your smartphone – and heat.

Keep Your Apps Updated

Believe it or not, the simple act of updating your phone’s apps can help to alleviate some of that over-exertion. Likewise, when you update the system, any bugs or glitches within your phone that were causing it to overheat can be eliminated. Always keep your software and applications updated to improve the efficiency of your phone.

Keep it Away from Other Devices

Your phone and other gizmos and gadgets shouldn’t be kept in close quarters when running. Since each of those other devices, such as your laptop, iPad, and anything else tech-related produces its own heat, grouping them together can result in one big hotbed that can do a lot of damage to your devices, including your phone.

Declutter Your Apps and Reduce Bloatware

Of course, the more applications you have running on your phone, including those that you don’t use but still hog internal resources like RAM and processor power, the more energy and heat the device will produce. So, go through your phone every few weeks and delete some of the apps that you don’t typically use anymore, and upgrade to more efficient alternatives of a favourite app whenever possible to minimize resource bloat. This is especially important for background apps that you never use but that run constantly, which will help your phone run smoothly and efficiently.

Keep it Out of the Sun

Just like when you sit out in direct sunlight, those intense rays beaming onto your phone can cause some pretty significant damage to it over time. Keeping your device in the sun or out on a hot surface can fry the battery and damage the hardware due to their continually being heated up. Therefore, avoid having any intense heat directed onto the surface of the phone. If you touch your device and it feels like it’s overheated, cool it down. Put it in an air-conditioned room or near a fan until it’s no longer hot.

Note: smartphones don’t like extreme temperature fluctuations. Do not subject your smartphone to dramatic temperature swings (either hot to cold or cold to hot) as this can result in condensation and other ill effects that will damage it.

For as much as you rely on (and pay for) your smartphone, you want it to last and function as efficiently as it can. Therefore, take good care of it and if your phone appears to be consistently hot, bring it into your nearest Mobile Klinik location for immediate diagnosis and professional repairs. We’re happy to help!

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