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What to do if your iPhone overheats

Picture this. You’re sat there in the park with the sunshine falling on your face, ready for the perfect Instagram snap.

Last updated: 17 November 2020

What to do if your iPhone overheats
Picture this. You’re sat there in the park with the sunshine falling on your face, ready for the perfect Instagram snap. You pick up your iPhone to take the photo but alas, it has overheated.  

The optimum iPhone temperature is between 0°C and 35°C. So, in the midst of our gorgeous summer heatwaves or whilst enduring another Beast from the East (of which the latter has zero saving graces) we may find that our iPhones stop functioning. 

Here’s what to do if your iPhone overheats. 

Why is my iPhone getting so hot?

Let’s start by taking a look at why iPhones overheat in the first place. iPhones have a Central Processing Unit (CPU), which is the computer that allows us to do all the things we do with our device. When the CPU is overworked, it can overheat from running a million commands at once. This is why it’s fairly common for our iPhones to get hot when we first set them up or restore them from a backup. Similarly, if you’ve just updated your software you could see your iPhone running hotter than normal.

Internally, your phone’s CPU is busy working behind the scenes to keep your phone running. Intensive apps like Google maps or certain games demand a lot of processing power, so when this is coupled with a hot day (where the metal and glass of your iPhone absorb the sun’s heat) you may find your phone overheats to the point that it shuts down.

How to stop your iPhone overheating

A common theme that comes up during mobile comparisons is how the battery fares, and the iPhone battery is unfortunately famed for being inferior to some of its competitors. But if you’re loyal to Apple then there are a few things you can do to preserve battery life, one of which is to not allow your iPhone to overheat in the first place.

First, don’t keep your phone in the direct sun on a hot day, or in any other form of heat chamber. Secondly, avoid overusing battery-draining apps, in particular ones that use AR The background app refresh setting means your phone is constantly working to ensure you’ve got the most current content in your apps, but having this switched on can cause the CPU to overheat on a hot day, so we recommend turning this off. And last, do make sure you have an official Apple charger as unauthentic products can overload your battery.

iPhones don’t have internal fans, meaning the CPU can’t cool itself down. However, some wireless chargers do incorporate fans so you could look to buy one of these if your phone supports wireless charging.

What to do if your iPhone overheats

When you sense your phone starting to overheat, there are a few essential steps to follow:

  • Take it away from direct sunlight and to a cooler temperature.
  • Remove your phone case to stop the heat getting trapped around your phone.
  • Be sure not to charge your device as doing so generates heat; wait until it cools down or remove the cable if it’s already charging.
  • Turn off location services, Bluetooth and WiFi.
  • Close down all apps.
  • Once your phone has cooled down, update any old apps that may be overworking the CPU.

What happens when an iPhone overheats?

When an iPhone overheats, a few things happen. You may be acutely familiar with a healthy temperature for your phone, so you’ll likely notice when it starts to feel too hot. And when it gets too hot, you’ll likely be met with the black screen of fear: that is, a big thermometer comes up on the screen accompanied by a message saying your iPhone needs to cool down before it can be used again. Also, it can turn off if it gets too hot.

While your phone is cooling down, you won’t be able to use it in the same way as normal. You may find you have limited signal; if you want to take photos, the flash will be disabled; and you may even have trouble charging the phone but, as we mentioned, you should avoid doing this when it’s too hot anyway.

Are there long-term risks to an iPhone overheating?

iPhones can overheat when the CPU has lots of demanding tasks to carry out. If you’re met with a message saying your phone needs to cool down, don’t worry: follow our advice and allow your phone’s temperature to drop and there shouldn’t be any long-term damage to your phone.

If you’re finding that your battery is regularly overheating then there may be a fault with it, in which case we recommend taking it to see a technician.

Just a quick note too on exploding iPhones (are you intrigued?!). You may have read horror stories about iPhones exploding when they get too hot. These stories make great headlines, but while there have been a few isolated incidents of this happening it’s nonetheless still extremely unlikely, and tends to be a result of a whole host of other factors.

Fergus Cole

Author: Fergus Cole

Fergus is a journalist specialising in the personal finance, energy and broadband sectors. He also has a passion for travel and adventure so tries to make the most of this in any spare time he gets.