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Heat Wave: Keep Your Phone From Overheating in Record Temps

If your phone gets too hot, you'll have to let it cool down before you can use it again.

Nelson Aguilar
Nelson Aguilar is an LA-based tech how-to writer and graduate of UCLA. With more than a decade of experience, he covers Apple and Google and writes on iPhone and Android features, privacy and security settings and more.
Nelson Aguilar
4 min read
An iPhone with an overheating message

Even the newest phones can overheat, especially if they're exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Dangerously high temperatures are forecast across much of the US this week as we head into summer, and while your own comfort and safety should be your main focus, you'll want to make sure your phone doesn't sizzle, too.

Overheating isn't just a problem for older devices. As efficient as they are, flagship phones like the Samsung S24 or iPhone 15 can get too warm if left in the direct sun for too long.

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Why don't you want your phone to overheat? Because your phone may shut down, throttle service or stop working altogether. High temperatures can permanently shorten battery life. 

That's why you want to take all the measures you can to prevent your iPhone, Android device or other phone from overheating. You can't stop all instances of overheating, but there are many things you can do. Here's what you need to know.

For more, check out the best iPhone you can get in 2024, as well as our top picks if you're considering an Android phone.

Why is your phone overheating in the first place?

High temperatures -- over 95 degrees, according to Apple -- can cause your phone to take precautions to protect its components. Your phone might overheat for many reasons, but here are some of the most common culprits:

  • Leaving your phone in direct sunlight
  • Keeping your phone in a hot environment, like a car on a hot day
  • Using your your phone's navigation system or other system-intensive tasks in hot conditions
  • Overusing your phone when it's charging
  • A faulty battery or charger
  • Bugs in the software
  • Rogue apps or malware

Your phone might overheat from other causes, like a malfunctioning application or even a suffocating phone case, but the reasons above are the most likely causes of your phone getting too hot.

A Galaxy S23 Ultra charging

You don't want to overuse your phone while it's charging.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

What does overheating do to your phone?

If the interior temperature of your phone exceeds its normal operating range and the device overheats, you can expect issues:

  • You may not be able to use your phone
  • Operations on your phone may slow down
  • Charging may slow or completely stop
  • Your signal may be weakened
  • Your camera's flash may be disabled

There are also possible permanent harmful effects: Overheating can cause lasting damage to the battery, SIM card and other crucial parts inside your phone.

Charging on hold warning on an iPhone

If your phone overheats, it may not be able to charge until it returns to a normal temperature.

Nelson Aguilar/CNET

So how can you prevent your phone from overheating?

The most important thing is to keep your phone out from direct sunlight when possible, especially when it's warm. Your phone might be fine in the grass on an overcast day, but the warmer the temperature, the less your phone can withstand the sun. At the beach, your phone can overheat in just a few minutes in the sun. Same if you put it in a sunny spot on the dash or seat of your car. 

Instead, get your phone out of the direct light, whether it's in your pocket, inside a backpack or under a towel/blanket or dashboard. Anyplace that will keep it away from sunlight will work.

It's fairly easy to protect your phone from the sun, but high temperatures alone can also cause your phone to overheat. After only an hour, the inside of a car can reach 143 degrees when it's 100 degrees outside, for example, so a phone left in your cup holder could quickly overheat and get damaged. The short answer: Don't keep your phone in a hot environment for an extended period of time, even if it's not in direct sunlight. That includes your car, a sauna, the kitchen, the middle of the desert or anywhere near a fire.

Your phone's optimal internal temperature should be somewhere between 32º and 95º F (0º and 35º C). To prevent overheating, Apple recommends keeping the device in a place where the temperature is between -4º and 113º F (-20º and 45º C).

While it might be tempting, don't stick your phone in the freezer to cool it down. The Apple community boards have lots of warnings about the damage you can do to your phone by putting it in an icebox.

Avoid an Overheated Phone This Summer With These Tips

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You should also follow these tips to prevent your phone from overheating

  • Don't use graphics- or processor-intensive apps when your phone is charging. That includes massive mobile video games like PUBG Mobile or streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu.
  • Update your phone system software and apps to the latest software available. A bug in the software can cause overheating issues, so always stay up-to-date with your software.
  • Steer clear of third-party chargers. Almost all of the time you'll be fine, but a cheaply designed charger could cause your phone to overheat.

While you're here, check out how to make your Android feel new again with these five tips.