Cell Phone And Heat: How To Cool Down Your Phone

The smartphone glows and switches off promptly. We share tips on how your phone survives the heat and why you shouldn't put it in the fridge.

Just a little scrolling through Instagram at the bathing lake and the warning appears on the smartphone display: "The iPhone must cool down before it can be used" or "Switched off because it is too hot" and the device can no longer be used. But how can you cool the phone down again? And does the device suffer lasting damage from the heat ? Tehnologijaviews answers the most important questions about overheating in smartphones.

Why is my smartphone overheating? This never happened with my old Nokia!

Smartphones are small computers, there are many components and sensors, from the main processor to light sensors to the screen. All of these parts consume electricity and flowing electricity generates heat, similar to toasters or kettles. The more the mobile phone components are working, the more electricity is consumed. That's why computing-intensive apps such as games or video editing programs cause particularly strong heat development. Charging also allows electricity to flow and generates heat. This is normal up to a point, the devices can handle it. On the other hand, defective hardware, bugs in apps or even viruses can cause too much heat to develop in the device. 

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And if the temperatures climb to record levels, as they have these days, the devices also have to regulate the heat coming from outside. For example, if the mobile phone is stuck to the windshield in the car as a navigation device or if it is in the pocket of black jeans close to the body, cooling down is hardly possible. Many smartphones then initially set their processors to a slower mode so that they generate less heat. If that doesn't help, most cell phones switch off completely to protect themselves - otherwise the components would break and, in the worst case, the cell phone would start to burn, more on that later.

What can I do to prevent my cell phone from getting too hot in the first place?

In the simplest case, don't use your cell phone at all, keep it away from direct sunlight and don't leave it in the car (just like dogs and children). Because that's easier said than done and cell phone photos are often part of the holiday, there are also a few more practical tips. They help, for example, when the smartphone is noticeably warm, reacts more slowly and there are already signs of overheating. Then it's worth first looking at which apps consume a lot of power - and thus also generate a lot of heat. On an iPhone, you can do this under Settings → Battery. With an Android phone, depending on the version, this can be done under Settings → Battery → Battery usage, Battery consumption or under a similar name.

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The apps that are at the top of this list are best closed immediately. On newer smartphones, this is usually done with a swipe from bottom to top. This opens an overview of all currently used and running apps. Apps can be pushed up off the screen, which closes them. A simple restart often helps to end unnecessary background processes. Navigation apps such as Google Maps or Apple Maps consume a particularly large amount of electricity. They are practical on vacation, after all they lead from sight to sight and to the next nice cafĂ© that you might not have found otherwise. However, the GPS sensor, data connection and the activated screen also generate a lot of heat. In addition, the navigation often continues to run in the background, so it is better to close these apps completely in hot weather. You should also avoid playing games on your cell phone or watching videos in the blazing sun.

If you are not expecting important news, WLAN and Bluetooth and the mobile data connection can be switched off. The easiest way to do this is to turn on Airplane mode. In addition, the screen in the respective control center of the mobile phone can be dimmed. While this makes it harder to see something outside, it helps save power.

Help, my smartphone wants to shut down due to overheating! And now?

First of all, keep a cool head. The automatic switch-off serves to protect the mobile phone. If you are only warned about it, but the smartphone is still on and in use, it helps to first follow the preventive tips above: So close apps, turn down the screen brightness, take the phone out of the sun. Editing and posting photos is also possible in the evening at the hotel. If you use your smartphone as a sat nav, you should put it in the center console instead of hanging it on the windshield.

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To prevent the heat from accumulating, the protective cover should be removed. And if it can be avoided, the cell phone should not be charged in order not to generate even more heat. Instead, it is best to place the phone in a cool, shady place. If there is no building nearby, for example on the beach, a bag or jacket helps a little, preferably not directly on the body.  Cool airflow from a fan can also help. But the mobile phone does not belong in the fridge, in the freezer or next to the beer in the cool bag: even low temperatures and condensation can damage the device. Waterproof mobile phones can theoretically also be cooled under a jet of water. But maybe you don't want to find out if your phone is completely waterproof in this way.

Numerous smartphone coolers (optionally with cool RGB lighting) can also be found on the Internet. Unless you are an intensive gamer or graphic designer, this is probably a bit oversized, and because the fans themselves need electricity, it is not particularly ecological either.

The best thing to do is just switch off and wait

My cell phone has overheated and is off. Is it permanently damaged now?

According to Samsung, the Galaxy smartphones are designed for use at temperatures between 0 and 35 degrees Celsius. The same framework applies to iPhones, according to the manufacturer they can also withstand -20 and 45 degrees when not in use, Google specifies the same values ​​for the Pixel devices. Incidentally, this also applies to other technical devices: Nintendo, for example, warned a few days ago that the Switch game console should not be operated at temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius. This means the normal temperatures in the shade – but it gets much warmer in the sun. 

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It is not surprising that the manufacturers all specify the same temperature range. This is mainly due to the lithium-ion batteries used, which are found in most small technical devices today. The rechargeable batteries consist of individual cells, each of which contains two electrodes and a (usually) liquid electrolyte. If it gets too warm, reaction processes run faster. The battery ages and can no longer provide as much power. You can also notice this with an older smartphone that has to be charged constantly - only this "aging" happens much faster due to heat.

This damage is actually permanent, although not dramatic. However, if lithium-ion cells get really hot, the electrolyte can evaporate, gases are produced and the battery catches fire. That happened a few years ago with Samsung's Galaxy Note 7, the manufacturer had to stop production and accept a severe drop in profits. But these were exceptional cases - it shouldn't come to that with well-functioning smartphones.

In addition to the battery, the liquid crystals of smartphone screens can also be damaged by heat. Depending on the display used, this can lead to a permanent darkening or failure of certain display areas.

To prevent this from happening, you should take the heat warnings of the devices seriously. The good news at the end: In most cases, the smartphone will function normally again after a period of rest in the shade. And a bit of switching off is also really good on holiday.

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