Why your cell phone overheats and what to do when it happens

It's a phenomenon that we've all experienced: we touch the body of our smartphone and it feels warm to the touch, if not downright hot. This may cause concern, especially if you are not aware of the why your cell phone overheats and what to do when it happens. Generally speaking, smartphones are subject to overheating due to intensive use, as a result of high ambient temperatures or, again, hardware and software problems. An example: it sometimes happens that the smartphone heats up when we are watching videos, perhaps streaming. This can happen because the device increases the reception power and consequently the energy consumption, or because the screen has to work at a higher brightness regime, especially if we are outdoors. In general, understanding the genesis of the problem can enable us to remedy the situation and prevent the device from being irremediably damaged.

Possible causes why the mobile phone overheats

One of possible causes why the mobile phone heats up it has to do with one of its own intensive use. By “intensive use” we mean both running “heavy” applications – such as graphics-intensive games, photo and video editing apps, augmented reality (AR) apps, etc. – than resorting to operations of a certain complexity, such as those relating to the first configuration of the mobile phone and restoring a backup.

What about, however, if the phone overheats without having used it heavily or even without having used it at all? In this case the problem could be attributable to environmental temperature: If it is high, the device is more likely to overheat whether it is used or not.

Another factor that could be taken into consideration concerns possible hardware problemsespecially with the drums which, if it has defects, could be the cause of overheating. If the battery does not have defects, it could still be indirectly “culprit” of the phenomenon, for example if a damaged or third-party charger, cable or external connector is used (the latter are often responsible for the poor functioning of the battery and the its possible damage).

A final factor that we include in the list of possible causes of overheating concerns software problems originating from “bugs” (i.e. errors) present in the code of the operating system or some apps installed on the device.

What to do when your cell phone overheats

Depending on the cause that led our phone to heat up, you can try to resolve the issue by following the suggestions listed in our handbookwhich we list below.

  • Intensive use of the device: If your phone has warmed up following heavy use and no high temperature warning is shown on the screen, you can continue to use your device. In fact, once the intense activity is over, this should return to a “normal” temperature.
  • High ambient temperature: in this case you need to place it in a cool place and wait for the heat to gradually dissipate. In fact, as some smartphone manufacturers suggest, you should store your devices in a place with a temperature between –20 and 45 °C and use them only when there is a temperature between 0 and 35 °C.
  • Hardware Issues: if the problem is attributable to the battery, it must be replaced, especially if, in addition to giving off heat, it has swollen, forming a belly on the front or back of the device. To find out how to replace it, we recommend contacting the phone manufacturer. If, however, the problem is attributable to your charging habits or the use of non-original or incorrectly functioning accessories, it may be enough to modify these aspects to see an improvement.
  • Software Issues: If the overheating problem has a software origin, you need to make sure that the operating system and installed apps are updated to the latest version. If so, you could also try restarting the device (turning it off and on again) which, although not the panacea for all ills, is an operation that can sometimes solve various problems and malfunctions, including the one in question.

What we have just listed are clearly general guidelines which, in the vast majority of cases, can mitigate the problem of cell phone overheating. For detailed information on how to act in your specific case, however, we invite you to always refer to the official instructions found on the support pages of your device manufacturer.