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Why Does My Phone Get Hot?: Causes & How To Cool It Down

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6 Min Read

We’ve all been there, the way a smartphone overheats, particularly after a conversation that may have stretched a bit too long. You will have muttered and questioned beneath your breath – ‘why is my phone hot’?

There could be multiple causes behind the overheating of your snazzy smartphone. While most cases of overheating resolve on their own, some phones take longer and probably won’t start until they cool down.

If you are at the receiving end of snags like these, this post should be a useful read. Find out the plausible reasons for overheating, ways to fix the issue, and the preventive measures you can take for the future.

Why Does My Phone Get Hot?

This is similar in so many ways to that one universal question that seems to elude fitness buffs, ‘Why am I not losing my belly fat?’. Well, there usually several reasons behind your smartphone overheating from time to time.

But before that, remember that any phone warming up is a common phenomenon. After all, phones are electronic devices, and the electricity that runs through it and makes it work generates the heat. That’s physics. However, if your phone is overheating to a point where you cannot hold it, chances are there’s a more severe underlying problem. If left undetected, overheating can cause irreparable damage.

Sometimes, multiple applications running simultaneously in the background can lead to overheating. Likewise, hardware problems, software glitches, and a possible lousy battery can never be ruled out. Other times, rogue apps and malware attacks can be the culprits.

NOTE: Irrespective of whether you have an Android or iOS, the first step is identifying the source of overheating.

Where Is All The Heat Coming From?

With overheating of the phone, the usual culprits are the processor, battery and screen, considering each of these generates significant heat. It might be challenging to put the finger on where the excessive heat is getting generated in light of the given information. Therefore, the idea is to get to the source of the heat.

The Phone Is Heating Up At The Bottom

If you find the heating is towards the bottom, chances are there is some issue with the charger. If you lose your charger, try to buy from the phone’s manufacturer, for it will be the most reliable one. However, third-party chargers will work just fine, as long as a reliable manufacturer is making them.

The phone is heating up at the back

Should you find the heating localized at the back, chances are its source is an overheated battery. Despite their size, modern-day lithium-ion batteries are extra powerful and sensitive. That’s why they can sometimes heat up fast. That being said, Li-Ion batteries are usually safe. But if there’s a persistent problem of overheating, it might be time for you to replace the battery and there are also many other reasons for mobile battery trouble.

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The phone is heating up at the front

Should this be the case, there’s likely an issue with your phone’s graphics processing unit (GPU) or CPU. When the processor functions, it generates heat as a result. So, whenever the processor’s functioning increases, it simultaneously increases the heat produced.

Hot vs. warm: What is the difference?

Ask yourself if your phone is hot or just warm? Remember that most phones have an internal temperature ranging from 37-43 degrees Celsius. This is considered perfectly fine.

Now, you cannot plug in a thermometer to check the temperature of your phone. So you will have to be the judge and take a call on when it may be the best time to stop binge-watching that addictive Netflix series on your phone.

There is a wide variety of web-based applications to check your phone health that keep a tab on a phone’s software and hardware performance, including an easy-to-understand temperature report.

Probable causes of phone overheating

Stated below are some of the more common causes that may be responsible for your phone heating up a little too often:

1. You’ve been playing games with your phone

Amid increasing social distancing coupled with the lockdown, it is tempting to go on a rampage of your favourite game. And we understand that. But remember that much like a desktop, your phone’s CPU and GPU have to bear the brunt of playing high-octane games hours on end.

While the occasional gaming sessions won’t harm your phone, you must give frequent breaks to let it catch its breath. Otherwise, it is only going to aggravate the overheating.

2. You Have Too Many Apps Running In The Background

Don’t think you are turning off your Gmail app as you minimise it and head to Facebook. Instead, the app is still running in the background and warming up your phone. More the apps that run in the background, harder the processor has to work. Need a quick tip? Go to your phone’s ‘Settings’ and turn off all background apps.

3. You Are Binge-watching

Unfortunately for your phone, binging on Netflix web series is as bad as marathon gaming. Remember this — anything you do with your phone that requires the GPU to work overtime and the screen to be lit up for more extended periods is causing overheating. Think of it this way – when you stream hour-long videos, your phone has to work beyond optimum capacity to load all that data and push the display into overdrive.

4. Phone Settings Are Suboptimal

‘Why is my phone hot?’ The next time you think aloud, make sure you are optimising the ‘Settings’.

Have you put the brightness on full throttle? Or have you been putting up the 3D wallpapers? Is the phone’s screen chock-a-block with widgets?

These settings significantly impact the energy your phone uses, and compound the stress on the device, causing it to heat up abnormally.

5. You Took Your Phone Out For Tanning

This is simple. Continuous exposure to the sun will undoubtedly cause your phone to heat up. Don’t be surprised if the touchscreen stops functioning, or the battery begins to drain faster than what you expected.

6. There Are App And OS-related Issues

Should a bug be detected in any of the apps, it may result in overheating. The same goes for the device’s operating system (OS). Therefore, it is essential to update all the applications whenever you see an update notification popping up.

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Could There Be A Bigger Problem Lurking Somewhere?

The biggest problem of them all is undoubtedly a malware attack. Malicious applications are under-optimised codes that can feed away at the phone’s memory and CPU, thereby generating significant heat.

Also, Android phones are particularly susceptible to ransomware, a kind of nasty, malicious software that locks your device (or individual files in it), and demands a hefty ransom from you to restore access. And that’s not the only thing you should be worried about.

The explosion of cryptocurrencies over the web has exposed a dark underbelly of these modern-day smart payment methods. Cryptocurrency mining warrants high processing power; the reason why developers of these currencies are now torn between the actual market value of these coins and the high costs of mining them.

This has hackers often resort to cryptojacking, a process whereby cryptocurrency miners hijack your phone’s processing power to mine cryptocurrencies. Obviously, you won’t have a whiff of their nefarious designs.

How To Cool My Phone Down?

There are several ways that you can bring your phone temperature down (and no, it doesn’t involve putting it inside the refrigerator!)

Turn off the application that may be overheating your phone. The process for this: Settings > Apps > Running Apps (choose the app you want to turn off) > Stop or Force Stop

Remove the phone case and allow the device to cool down. If required, use your phone without the cover.

Use less power. For Android phones, this means switching on the ‘Battery Saver’ mode

Turn off certain battery-draining features if you don’t need them. These include Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth. You can also switch on the Aeroplane mode for times when you intend on not using your phone.

Trash all junk, including unnecessary applications that you will never use again as well as data collected by other useful apps. Install junk-cleaning software for better results.

Turn down phone brightness or switch to the ‘responsive brightness’ feature that alters screen brightness levels in keeping with the ambient light.

You should also change the charging cable periodically if you find most of the heating happening around the charging port.

How Do I Keep My Phone From Overheating?

Caring for your phone involves imbibing and putting to use best practices. These are:

1. Follow The Correct Way Of Charging

We have already discussed this previously. But there’s another point you must keep in mind. When charging your phone, make sure you keep it on a hard surface that won’t conduct heat. Softer surfaces like the bed or couch trap the heat inside, causing your phone to heat up in no time.

Also, once you get the ‘100% charging complete’ notification, turn off the switch. While most smartphones have protection chips that automatically stop charging once the battery is 100%, it is always better to err on the side of caution.

2. Update The Apps

Updating applications is essentially optimizing them. The more optimized apps are, the fewer resources they use to function. This translates to a much-reduced likelihood of your phone overheating.

3. Use An Antivirus

Ensure you have reliable antivirus coverage on your phone. Smartphones are vulnerable to malware and ransomware attacks that can harm your privacy in more ways than one. Malware could compromise sensitive personal data, infringe on your privacy, steal banking details, hijack your phone (or the multiple files stored in it), and drain the battery.

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