Phone overheating this summer? Here's 5 tips to keep it cool

Phone on fire
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Summer is here, and it's already a brutal one. A sweltering heatwave has hit the U.S., impacting nearly 115 million people in more than 15 states across the Southwest and West Coast. As the temperatures rise, so do the risks of your phone overheating while you're out and about. 

Even the best phones can be as prone to overheating as you are. And that comes with its own headaches. Extreme temperatures can make your phone too hot to hold, degrade your phone's battery, tank its performance and even lead to permanent damage. 

Thankfully, there are several tricks you can use to keep your device relatively cool while you're soaking up rays at the beach or hanging out by the pool. Here are five ways to keep your phone from overheating this summer. 

And if you're looking for even more ways to beat the heat, be sure to check out our 7 essential tips for staying cool in a heatwavehow to cool a room down in a heatwave and how to cool down your car

Learn what signs to watch out for

Smoking hot phone

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Let's start with the obvious: Learning the safe operating temperature for your phone is a great jumping off point. While that can vary based on which phone you have, most manufacturers recommend you keep your device between 32-95 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 35 degrees Celsius) when it's charging, performing tasks or sitting idle. So that at least gives you a general idea of how hot is too hot.

Your phone may run hotter and become temporarily warm to the touch if you're running intensive apps like playing games or streaming video. But if your phone stays hot for extended periods or you can't comfortably hold it in your hand without it feeling like a branding iron, those could be signs of overheating. Some phones when overheated will pause operations until the device cools down, though emergency calling remains available if you get in a pinch. 

Keep your phone out of direct sunlight

Woman looking into sunlight

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While you may be eager to soak up some rays this summer, smartphones aren't designed to weather this kind of heat. Ideally, you'd leave your phone someplace suitably air-conditioned and ventilated. But when you do take it outside, make sure to keep your phone in a shady spot as much as possible.  

Along with pools and sunny beaches, another common area for phones to overheat is in cars. Between the lack of ventilation and sunlight beaming down through the windshield and windows, leaving your phone in a car on a hot day is a surefire way to cook it. Avoid leaving your phone on the dashboard, seat or armrest of your car, where it's most at risk of overheating. Perching your phone on a sunny windowsill, inside a greenhouse or any spot that gets hit with a lot of direct sunlight is also a bad idea. 

Remove your phone's case

A CaseMate case shown in hand

(Image credit: CaseMate)

Phone cases are great at keeping your phone protected from bumps and scratches, but they're also great at keeping in heat. So if your phone is already burning up, take off the case to help it cool down quickly. 

Regardless of your case's design, it acts as another layer of insulation that your already sweltering smartphone doesn't need. If you're planning on being out and about with your phone in this heatwave, consider giving it some room to breathe with extended breaks from its case throughout the day. After all, you're wearing less to beat the heat, so why shouldn't your phone? 

Close power-hungry apps

lg g8 playing racing game

(Image credit: Future)

Intensive apps can force your smartphone to work on overdrive, putting a strain on its battery that, in turn, bumps up the device's internal temperature. As phones get older, these issues tend to get worse.

The smaller the workload, the cooler the battery, so shut down any power-hungry apps you can. That includes photo and video editing tools, mobile games and apps that frequently refresh in the background like Facebook and Twitter. It's also worth switching off any features you aren't currently using like GPS or Bluetooth. They may not be huge drains on your phone's battery, but every extra degree counts when overheating is concerned. 

While you're at it, here's a guide on how to check your Android's battery health. Or if you have an iPhone, these 12 tips will help you preserve its battery life

Get a fan for your phone

Razer Cooler Chroma image

(Image credit: Razer)

Forcing a cooldown isn't a smart option either. By submerging your phone in water or popping it in the fridge or freezer to lower its temperature, you run the risk of causing water damage, which can lead to all sorts of problems. For the fastest and most effective way to cool your phone down, consider getting a specialized phone cooler. 

They're typically geared toward keeping your phone from running hot while playing graphics-heavy games, but that's not all they're good for. A cross between a fan and a phone case, these devices employ a combination of heat sink and fan-based technology to sap away heat. The cooler attaches to the back of your phone, either with a clip or magnet (including MagSafe). 

And they're available for a variety of price points, from relatively cheap options on Amazon (under $15) to more advanced models, like Razer’s $60 MagSafe Phone Cooler.

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment.

Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.