Beat the heatwave with these hot tips to stop your smartphone overheating

That's gonna get hot
That's gonna get hot (Image credit: Future)

We all love a good heat wave - it gives us a chance to enjoy sitting outdoors, or inside with a nice big window providing a cool breeze - but it's not just your body that's cooking in the sun. Your smartphone is probably warming up quite a bit too.

On hot sunny days, smartphone overheating can be a big problem for some - it can make the mobile hot to hold, and can sometimes stop it performing well or even permanently damage the device. This makes it hard to take pictures, navigate or call or text with your friends and family.

Some people may choose to grin and bear the difficulties this brings, or - shock horror - go without using their smartphone. There's no need to do that though, and it's very easy to keep your handset cool - or, an appropriate temperature - without putting it down.

And no, before you get distracted and close this tab (or burn your hand on your device, you mobile readers), dunking your phone in water isn't the right course of action. That probably won't pan out well.

So to help you survive the hot summer seasons without losing your trusted handset, here's some advice on how to stop your phone overheating and keep it cool in toasty weather.

1. Keep it out of the heat

On a hot day you'll want to hide in the shade to avoid the heat - your phone wants exactly the same. Try your best to avoid leaving it in direct sunlight, as the sun's glare can get it to warm up super fast.

So if you're at home, don't put it by a window; likewise if you're at a picnic, just tuck it under your blanket out of the light. 

Similarly, don't leave your smartphone in a car, or greenhouse, or conservatory, or anywhere else that would naturally get hot on a sunny day - that would cook your smartphone as quickly as it would cook you.

By doing this, you'll stop the device from heating up rapidly. 

iPhone 11 cases

(Image credit: Future)

2. Remove the case

If you've got a case on your phone, it's going to keep it toasty and snug in winter months - and also roasted in hot months. Strip off that case!

A case can act as insulation, so if your phone is getting warm, the case will keep that heat in - you need to take it off so the heat can dissipate as quickly as possible.

Sure, if you've got a good case that's useful beyond protecting your phone, like one with your credit cards in or one with an external battery pack, you might want to keep it on for that purpose. But if you're just relaxing at home, or having a picnic in the park, it wouldn't hurt to slip off the case for a few minutes.

3. Tweak the phone's settings

The devil's in the details, so if you want to keep your phone cool there are some useful settings you can change to make sure it doesn't heat up too much.

Firstly, turn your screen brightness as low as you can - this might make the display harder to see, but it will use up less battery, causing the device to heat up less. If your phone has adaptive brightness, this might automatically turn the brightness to max if you're outside, so consider turning this off.

Secondly, turn off data if you're not using it, and perhaps put your device into airplane mode if you don't need to talk to people for a bit. Like screen brightness, turning off these features can save battery, which is pretty closely linked to phone temperature.

Some phones, particularly gaming phones, have overclocked modes that boost the phone's performance while draining power more quickly. Naturally, this has got to go too. If you don't know if your phone has such a mode, it probably doesn't, as gaming modes are mainly only on certain niche handsets.

Maybe no gaming for a while

Maybe no gaming for a while (Image credit: Aakash Jhaveri)

4. Don't push your phone to its limits

Whether or not the weather is hot, there are things you can do to heat up your phone - playing intense games, editing video or photos, or plugging it in to charge at a high speed can warm up the phone.

If the heat of the day is getting your phone hot anyway, you'd be wise to avoid doing the kind of activities that naturally warm it up - two sources of heat at once could cause it to warm up super fast.

So if you can, avoid gaming for a bit, charge it at a lower speed, and save editing your pictures until you're in a nice cool area. Your phone will thank you.

iPhone 11 Pro

(Image credit: Future)

5. Don't leave the phone in your pocket

Your pockets can be quite hot places for a phone - they often press your tech right up against your skin, lapping up all your body heat.

Take your phone out of any tight trouser or shirt pocket, where this is worst - we'd suggest coat or jacket pockets might be better, but on a hot day you're unlikely to be wearing one. 

If you're out and about, perhaps carrying your phone in a bag is best, because that's at least further from you. And if you're sitting still somewhere, maybe take your device out of your pocket and leave it somewhere you can see it.

6. Don't try and force a cool-down

More often than not, tricks for getting your phone to cool down could actually end up damaging the thing more than helping it.

Firstly, we wouldn't recommend submerging your phone in water or even under a tap or stream, even if your handset has IP68 resistance - you could drop it since it's slippery, or leave it submerged too long, or may have even confused its IP rating in the first place. On top of that, these methods don't always have much effect.

Don't leave your phone in a fridge or freezer either - rapid cooling of smartphones can cause condensation to get stuck inside the device, damaging it and potentially voiding your warranty.

No - slow and steady wins the race in this case.

A cooler for your phone

A cooler for your phone (Image credit: Future)

7. Buy a phone cooler

Phone coolers are peripherals - mainly designed for mobile gamers, and predominantly using heat sink technology - that can keep your handset ice cold when it would normally be warm.

You can buy one on Amazon for fairly cheap, and it should last you a long time, so it could be a good investment if phone overheating is a common problem for you.

You can find phone coolers on Amazon in the US, the UK and Australia by clicking those regions. We haven't tested all the listed phone coolers (and they change frequently) so we can't attest to the quality of all those listed. But we've used enough to know they can be pretty useful.

8. Stick it under a fan

If you don't think a phone cooler is for you, then maybe go a little more low-tech - just turn on your personal fan, and put your smartphone in a location where it'll get blown.

This should cool down your phone at a slow enough rate that you won't damage it, while also mitigating some of the heat it might accrue from the warmth of the day and its normal processes.

This will work best if you combine it with some of the other pieces of advice - and if you make sure you're in the fan's path as well - and could keep your smartphone from overheating.

Tom Bedford

Tom Bedford was deputy phones editor on TechRadar until late 2022, having worked his way up from staff writer. Though he specialized in phones and tablets, he also took on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK and now works for the entertainment site What To Watch.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working on TechRadar, he freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. He also currently works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.