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Why does my phone get hot?

A common question with no single answer, we’re here to help you super sleuth your way to the bottom of this hot topic (couldn’t help ourselves). Note that this doesn’t include your phone getting warm from time to time. Some warmth is completely normal. Your phone is an electronic device after all, so the movement of electricity required to make it work creates heat — that’s simple physics. But if your phone is regularly overheating to the point where it’s uncomfortable to hold, there could be a more serious problem going on that could ultimately make your phone age faster or cause other issues.

This article contains:

    Why is my Android overheating?

    Some of the common causes of phone overheating — such as malware and rogue apps — are more common on Android devices. If your Android device or battery regularly gets too hot, read on to learn how to turn down the heat.

    Why is my iPhone overheating?

    Because iPhones don’t get viruses and Apple doesn’t allow the installation of non-approved apps, you might think iOS devices are less prone to typical phone issues, including phone overheating. But, if you’re here, you’re probably wondering “why is my iPhone overheating so quickly?!” Don’t worry, we have answers.

    No matter if you have an Android or iPhone, the first step is figuring out the source of the overheating.

    Where is the heat coming from?

    When phone temperature rises, the most probable culprits are either the battery, processor, or screen. Each of these components can generate heat; chemicals inside your phone’s battery create electricity, the processor transfers information at high speeds (like a computer), and your phone’s screen emits light. So how can you pinpoint what’s causing the problem? You can make an educated guess about why your iPhone or Android phone is heating up based on where the heat is coming from.

    Back of the phone

    If the back of your phone is getting hot, the problem may be an overheating battery. Most modern mobile phones use Li-Ion (lithium-ion) batteries that, despite their size, pack a powerful punch. Li-Ion batteries are generally safe, but malfunctions do sometimes occur. A hot battery could also be in need of replacement.

    Bottom of the phone

    See if the bottom of the phone gets hot when charging — if so, the problem might be with the charger. For both iPhone and Android, the most reliable charger will be the one from your phone’s manufacturer. But contrary to popular belief, third-party chargers are also fine as long as they’re from a reputable source.

    Above the battery, by the speaker, or the screen

    If you notice your phone is getting hot somewhere besides the battery or the bottom where it connects to the charger, other possible causes could be related to the phone itself or to external factors.

    Hot vs. warm: What’s the difference?

    Okay, so your phone is hot — or is it just warm? Generally, a phone’s internal temperature can reach 37 to 43 degrees Celsius (98.6 to 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit) and still be considered normal. Before you start jamming a thermometer into your phone’s charging port, there are some more practical ways to determine phone temperature:Make sure to determine if your phone is experiencing normal warmth or problematic overheating.

    If you’re using an Android phone, you can install the nifty AIDA64 app, which will give you a ton of information about your device’s hardware and software, including a phone temperature report. While Apple has expanded the information you can see in the “Battery Health” menu in its latest iOS 12.3 update, this does not include a temperature reading.

    However, since we’ve already established that some phone heat is normal, it’s better to determine overheating based on how often you notice your phone getting hot, or if the temperature is physically uncomfortable. Your phone should not be getting hot several times a day, or for seemingly no reason.

    iPhone vs. Samsung phone overheating

    Some iOS users notice increasing phone temperature issues as their devices age. But there’s still a big difference between older models overheating more often (as they struggle to keep up with updates) and the really intense overheating seen with the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 battery explosions. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) still doesn’t allow that particular Samsung Galaxy model on flights. 

    Though the Galaxy Note 7 is a particularly extreme case, we recommend reading reviews before you buy a new device to make sure there are no inherent issues that will cause dangerous phone overheating (or any other problems).

    Causes of phone overheating

    There are many normal (and harmless) reasons why your phone may need to use more power than usual, causing it to warm up a bit. These include:

    1. Gaming for long periods of time

    Icon_01If you haven’t found yourself hours deep into a Candy Crush or Snake vs. Block marathon, then you’re either lying or you’ve somehow never had to take public transit. The sheer breadth of available mobile games is arguably one of the best reasons for buying a smartphone. However, high-intensity gaming apps use your phone’s central processing cores in addition to the graphics processing unit, which can make your phone warm up.

    2. Streaming content

    Icon_02Similar to the gaming scenario, watching YouTube or Netflix for hours via your Android or iPhone is another surefire (get it?) way to overwork your phone’s processor. Streaming content means your phone has to load the video data and keep the display active for a prolonged period of time.

    3. Your settings aren’t optimal

    Icon_03Your phone’s settings also impact how much energy it uses. Screen brightness on full blast? Animated wallpaper? Widgets, widgets everywhere? Consider turning off (or down, in the case of screen brightness) unnecessary settings to lighten the load on your phone’s CPU.

    Other reasons may not be related to your phone’s normal processes, but are still relatively easy to fix:

    4. Environmental factors

    Icon_04Prepare to have your mind blown, but leaving your phone sitting outside in the sun or in your car on a hot day can cause it to overheat (*GASP*). This will also prevent the touch screen from working properly and cause the battery to drain faster. In addition to sun and heat exposure, water damage can also be a possible cause of phone overheating.

    5. Apps that need updates

    Icon_05If an app has a bug or other problem, it may cause your phone to overheat by overusing your device’s processor. Keeping your apps and operating system updated is important because updates often include bug fixes. After you apply the update, your phone should have better performance and overheat less frequently.

    6. Software updates

    Icon_6-02A phone may overheat during or right after an update. This can be because there was a bug in the OS that required fixing through the update, which can require increased power in the moment (but shouldn’t trigger a long-term overheating issue).

    When there’s a bigger problem

    While there are many plausible explanations for why your phone is getting hot in here (so hot!), it’s better not to assume the problem is an easy fix. An chronically overheating phone can be a sign that your phone is infected with malware. Malware often consumes a ton of your phone’s RAM and CPU power, which causes the phone to overheat. Some types of malware are even capable of physically damaging your phone.

    Despite the myth you sometimes hear, phones can get malware. Android phones can even get ransomware, a particularly nasty type of malicious software that locks up your files or device and demands a ransom to return access to you. And that’s not the only type of malware floating around.

    With the explosion of Bitcoin, cryptocurrency has moved to the forefront of hackers’ interest. In 2017, a strain of Trojan malware called Loapi infected Android phones by disguising itself usually as a fake antivirus app in the Google Play store. Loapi malware was used by hackers to secretly mine Monero cryptocurrency. This maxed out the processor’s computing power and caused the device to overheat, causing the phone’s battery to noticeably bulge just two days after the initial infection.

    There have also been a growing number of fake Android apps that infect devices with CoinHive, another Monero-mining malware. Hidden inside HTML files in the assets folder of the apps, the mining script activates once the app is opened and continues running in the background. Since many of these malicious apps have been found in the Google Play Store, paying attention to phone overheating is a useful way to identify a mining malware infection. 

    If you do suspect your phone is getting too hot due to a malware infection, see how to remove a virus from Android or iPhone.

    If you’re an iPhone user who sticks to the Apple App Store for approved apps, that will help limit your exposure to rogue apps. On the other hand, a jailbroken iPhone is just as vulnerable to malware as an Android. We recommend safeguarding your iOS device with a security app such as AVG Mobile Security for iPhone and iPad, which will protect you from all kinds of threats, including unsafe Wi-Fi networks and identity theft.

    Due to their increased vulnerability, Android users should use a trusted mobile antivirus like our free AVG AntiVirus for Android. This is the best way to prevent malware from harming your device, and also protects against unsafe apps, unwanted callers, and theft.

    How to cool your phone down

    For a quick fix, first try removing your phone’s case. While the case itself should not be causing your phone to overheat, it might be trapping heat. Removing it can help lower your phone’s temperature more quickly. Next, turn on airplane mode to quickly deactivate battery-draining features like wireless radio, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi or cellular signal search. This isn’t the most practical option, but it can be a quick way to help cool your phone down if it’s overheating.

    Also, NEVER put your phone in the fridge or freezer. While this may sound like the logical counter response to leaving your phone in a hot environment, exposing your phone to extreme temperatures or moisture can cause irreparable damage. A better option (though admittedly limited in effectiveness) is to blow on or fan it. Both iPhones and Androids are designed to function between 0 to 35 degrees Celsius (32 to 95 Fahrenheit), but exposure to temperatures outside of that range can have a negative impact on your phone’s performance or hardware. If your phone is overheating because of direct sunlight or heat, you can move it to a shadier place.

    In addition to the tips mentioned above, here are some other things you can do to help your phone cool off:

    • Dim your screen brightness — Keeping the screen at a reasonable brightness (not full blast) will take some strain off your phone’s battery (and your eyes).

    • Turn off Wi-Fi, GPS, and Bluetooth — Disabling battery-draining features such as these gives your phone a break, allowing it to cool down.

    • Restart your phone — Occasionally restarting your phone can help prevent overheating due to minor software problems.

    • Remove malware: As mentioned above, malicious software can make your device run in overdrive and overheat. Scan and remove it to improve phone performance and bring down the temperature.

    • See a professional: If you’ve scanned your phone and determined it’s malware-free, but none of our other tips work, you might need to replace the battery. It’s best to visit a reputable repair shop and see if they can help diagnose the issue and/or get you a new battery, if necessary.

    How to keep your phone from overheating

    It’s often easier to prevent issues in the first place than to learn how to stop your phone from overheating. Developing some basic phone-care habits can really make a difference when it comes to prolonging your phone’s life and delaying a phone replacement.

    Charge your phone correctly

    We already mentioned using a reputable charger, but where you charge your phone is also important. Put it on a hard surface that won’t conduct heat, and not your couch or bed — both of which will retain the heat produced by charging. And while we’re on the subject, a quick myth bust: charging your phone overnight actually ISN'T bad for your battery. The truth is that smartphones have protection chips to make sure a battery stops charging at 100%. Although it will charge again once the battery drops to 99%, you won’t harm the battery as long as you maintain proper charging placement.

    Update your apps

    If you notice your phone has started heating up for no apparent reason, try looking at some of the apps you’ve recently installed. It’s possible that one or more of them may have a bug that’s causing your phone to overheat. Updating apps usually fixes this kind of problem; if not, try uninstalling the app to determine if it’s the reason your phone is overheating. You should also keep your operating system up-to-date for optimal device performance and security.

    Avoid direct sunlight

    This seems like a “duh” piece of advice, but it can be quite easy to forget about your phone when you’re outside soaking up the sun. Cover your phone with a blanket or something similar to prevent it from overheating — you may need to work on your tan, but your phone definitely doesn’t.

    Use an antivirus

    We really can’t stress enough how important it is to use strong antivirus software on your Android phone. Overheating aside, getting malware on your phone is going to give you a huge headache at the very least. At the most, malware could leak your sensitive information, steal your banking details, hold your device or personal files hostage, spy on your physical location, drain your battery — the list goes on, but the bottom line is this: don’t be dumb with your smartphone. Make sure to use an antivirus. 

    Get free protection against insecure Wi-Fi networks and identity theft and secure your private photos against thieves or snoops with AVG Mobile Security for iPhone and iPad. Android users, guard against malware and rogue apps with extra protection of your sensitive data and photos with our free AVG AntiVirus for Android.

    Protect your iPhone against threats with AVG Mobile Security

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