Why your phone gets so damn hot and how to keep it from overheating

An overheated phone is an unhappy phone. Here's what to do if yours does this.

Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani
Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read

If you've ever left your iPhone or Android phone in a car on a hot summer day for an extended amount of time, you likely have experienced a phone that's overheated. There's typically a warning message -- similar to that shown on the iPhone below -- letting you know the phone has all but stopped working because the temperature inside is far too hot to function. 

While a phone can overheat while you're using it, that's a relatively uncommon occurrence. It's more likely that internal temperatures will rise when you're spending a day at the beach after it's been in the sun for too long.

If you find yourself staring at a warning message that your phone is too hot, don't freak out! It only takes a few minutes to get it back down to a suitable temperature.


You'll see a warning message if your phone gets too damn hot.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

How to cool an overheated phone

If your phone gets hot enough to display a warning message, here's what you need to do:

  • Turn the phone off.
  • Remove it from direct sunlight (put it under a beach towel, for example).
  • Take your phone out of its case, if you're using one.
  • Remove the charging cable if it's plugged in.
  • Place your phone in your freezer; just don't leave it in there too long.

If you have a fan, car AC, or some other method to blow cool air across your phone, do it! It will speed up the cool-down process and get you back to a working phone much faster.

I've personally had an iPhone overheat during a road trip while it was sitting in a cup holder in direct sunlight. Once I realized what happened, I turned the phone off and then held the phone up to the air conditioner vent and after a few minutes, it was back down to normal temperature.

Watch this: How to find a lost iPhone

If your phone overheats during normal use

Phones can get warm when we are using them. For example, if you're using a resource intensive video game with high-end graphics, your phone will likely heat up. It should never get too hot to touch, nor should it ever get hot enough that it displays a warning.

However, if you feel uncomfortable with how hot it is, you should immediately close the app or game you're using and give the phone a chance to cool down. Unplug the phone if you are charging it. Temporarily decreasing the display's brightness will also help it cool down. Again, removing the case will help speed up the cool down process.

If your phone consistently gets too hot, there's likely something wrong with it and it's a good idea to contact the support department for the company that makes your phone. Apple users can make a Genius Bar appointment, while Samsung users can find details here. If you aren't sure of the best route to get support for your phone, contacting your carrier is always a good place to start.

How to avoid overheating your phone

There are some precautionary steps you can take to minimize the potential for your phone to get too hot: 

  • Don't leave your phone in your car on a hot day.
  • Don't leave your phone in direct sunlight.
  • Take breaks while gaming or streaming video.
  • Avoid charging your phone while gaming or streaming.

Keep in mind that phones, despite being miniature computers, don't have the same cooling systems that computers do. If your phone is getting too hot, sometimes it needs help to get back to a normal temperature. The good news is, that the majority of the time, even if your phone overheats and displays a warning, once it cools off there's no permanent damage.