Why is my Phone Hot? What you can do
Nearly everyone has a smartphone these days, and we all love to fill them to the brim with the latest apps, games, photos, and videos. But sometimes, while tapping away at your AMOLED, curved-edge screen, you might realize that your fingers feel like they’re on fire.
Phones are getting smaller and smaller. Less space between all the bits and pieces, and the miniaturization of the constituent tech, has left us with tiny, light-weight computers in our pockets. Unlike computers, though, the vast majority of phones don’t have any sort of built in the cooling system. The only way they can let off excess heat is by radiating it out into the air, which is why they feel warmer after use.
Playing games, watching videos, and extended camera usage all put additional strain on the processor. Having the screen brightness on full, using Wi-Fi or data, and multitasking apps (using more than one app at a time, like listening to music and browsing the web) can also turn up the heat.
As someone once said, processors are just rocks that we’ve tricked into thinking. Passing an electrical current through the silicon that makes up the chip produces heat. The more demands that are placed on the processor, the hotter it gets. This is normal, and your phone warming up after extended use is to be expected.
Hot or Not?
Unless you’ve got one of those fancy water-cooled Samsung phones, chances are you’re going to notice the heat build up in your phone as you use it. If you’re concerned that it’s not a normal level, you should check on the phone itself.
Android – Go to the app you use to type in phone numbers and enter this code: *#*#4636#*#*. On most Android phones, this will bring up the ‘Battery information’ option. Tap on it, and see what it says. If the temperature is between 25-40oC, then it’s still within a safe range. If it’s hotter, then you might have a problem. Also, check whether your battery health is ‘Good’ otherwise that might be the culprit.
iPhone – It’s a bit more complicated for iPhone users. You’ll need to download an app from the App Store, such as Lirum Device Info Lite, which can tell you pretty much anything you could possibly want to know about your phone, including its temperature. Anything between 0-35 oC should be fine.
Assault on Your Battery
One of your primary suspects should be the battery. If the checks above showed that your battery is unhealthy, or that it is too hot, then there’s a chance that it is getting old and needs to be replaced. The longer you’ve had the phone, the more likely this is, as most people charge their phone to 100%, and still use it while it’s charging, both of which are bad for your battery.
If you notice that it’s getting especially hot while charging, then the problem could be with the battery, the charging cable, or the port you plug the charger in to. Try a different charger, and if it still heats up, put a new battery in. If neither of these stops it from overheating, then at least you’ve got a spare charger and battery…
If the battery is noticeably swelling, then turn the phone off straight away and replace the battery, disposing of the old one safely.
Just in Case
Remember how your phone has to radiate heat to cool down? Well, putting a plastic or leather case over it is going to make that a lot less efficient. The case could well be insulating your phone, trapping the heat inside the device.
This one is a bit of a Catch-22 because of course you have a case on there for a reason. Removing the case will make your phone more vulnerable to harm while keeping it on might be doing harm itself. Try taking the case off while doing what normally makes the phone overheat. If it stays cool, you might need to look at getting a better designed case.
What Happens Online, Stays Online… Except for Malware.
One potential cause for unexpected heat is that your phone could have been infected with malware. If you’ve ever installed an app from an unknown source, as in not from the Play Store or App Store, then there’s a chance that your phone has an unwelcome hitchhiker stealing its resources, and potentially your data.
Try downloading a malware scanning app, or restore your phone from a back-up made before the problem started. If the problem persists, then you might want to try a factory reset. If it stays cool after that, then you’ll need to be careful as to which apps you reinstall on there.
Keep Your Cool
These are some of the main reasons that your phone can start to overheat. If you know about any others or have a good way of keeping your phone cool, please share it with us in the comments below!