7 Easy Ways to Cool Down an Overheating Phone

Wondering if your phone overheating means it's broken? Here's what it means when your cell phone starts to burn up—and the easiest ways to cool it down!

Have you ever been scrolling through emails on your phone, flagging messages or typing quick replies, and suddenly felt your device heating up? You might feel like you have to drop the phone to keep your fingers from burning, and you’re pretty sure the device is going to blow up. Why else would it have heated to the temperature of Mars? While you may not trust your cell phone to not spontaneously combust, it’s actually pretty normal to have an overheating phone. That being said, if you’re looking to bring your device back to Earthly temperatures, try these simple tricks to cool down your phone.

Close your apps

An overheating phone may be an indication that you are using too many apps at once. According to Damien Mason, a technical writer for ProPrivacy.com, having multiple apps open “causes the processor and RAM to work overtime, which inevitably strains the battery. It’s no good simply hopping out of one application and into another, as the original program is likely still running in the background. These need to be closed properly.” While some apps do use more processing power than others, one of the best ways to cool down your phone is by closing down each running application.

If your phone is overheating on a regular basis, this may be a sign that you are consistently putting too much pressure on your smartphone. Mason explains that “regularly turning up the brightness, using Bluetooth, and playing games can be intense for devices not intended for such a rigorous workload. Uninstalling unneeded applications can help ensure fewer background tasks are being performed while updating the remaining applications makes sure they are the most stable and efficient versions.” Using too many apps is only one of many ways you’re shortening the life of your phone. When your applications are in good shape, chances are your phone will be too.

How to close apps on any iPhones that were released before the iPhone X:

  • Step 1: Double click the home button.
  • Step 2: Swipe left or right on the screen to find the app that you want to close.
  • Step 3: Swipe up on the application previews, so that each one disappears.

How to close apps on an iPhone X or any models released after the iPhone X:

  • Step 1: On the home screen, swipe up from the bottom of the screen and pause your finger in the middle of the screen.
  • Step 2: Swipe left or right to find an app that you want to close.
  • Step 3: Swipe up on the application previews, so that each one disappears.

How to close down apps on an Android:

  • Step 1: Launch the recent applications menu.
  • Step 2: Scroll up or down from the bottom to find the app you want to close.
  • Step 3: Tap and hold on the application you want to close, and then swipe it to the right.

Stop charging your phone

You might be surprised that one of the antidotes for your phone overheating is to stop charging the battery. Why? The devices are not actually getting the rejuvenation they need if you use your phone while its plugged in or leave apps running. According to technology expert Nick Wolny, “using your phone while simultaneously charging it, which is called ‘pass-through charging,’ heats up phones dramatically.” One fix for this problem could be to just stop using your phone, or unplug the device when you want to use it.

Also, we don’t always use the right charger for our device, which can contribute to your phone overheating. When our phones approach low battery, we often scramble to find any charger we can. However, according to technology expert Nick Galov, “some chargers may be designed for stronger phones, which results in battery damage and overheating.” It’s important to use the charger that specifically matches your phone model. iPhone users should also try these hidden iPhone hacks to use your phone most efficiently.  In addition to cooling down your overheating phone, using the right charger will lengthen the overall life of your device.

charge cell phoneSaranya Loisamutr/Shutterstock

Remove your phone from its case

 When it comes to protecting your device from cracking, phone cases are great. However, most people don’t realize that their phone case may actually be the reason that their device is overheating. According to Wolny, many cases “especially ‘life proof’ ones that are heavily rubberized, can block vents and make it harder for our phone to cool down when in use.” Since our phones tend to heat up when they expend a lot of processing power, it’s important that the devices have clear channels to release this heat and regulate its temperature. Phones can also warm up when they are placed in direct sunlight. That’s why Wolny recommends “stripping your phone” when it is outside in the heat or powering a lot of applications.

Turn on “airplane mode”

Since it’s prohibited to use cellular data on airplanes, most smartphones are equipped with an “airplane mode” function. Airplane mode disconnects your phone from cellular data, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi Networks, preventing “all transmission-based signals,” says Damien Mason. Disabling these functions helps to relieve some of the strain on your phone’s processor and RAM. In simple terms, airplane mode can relax an overworked battery and can help cool down your phone.

Take your phone out of the heat

If you’ve ever brought your phone to the beach on a stunningly sunny day, you may have noticed the temperature of the device is impacted. “Phone batteries encounter problems when temperatures reach 114 degrees or higher,” explains Nick Wolny. Since the battery is one of the largest components of the phone, “it’s easy to feel just how hot a device can get from the back of the chassis,” Damien Mason adds. To counteract the effects of the weather, try moving your phone to a cooler location. If you’re at the beach, a sports game, or another event that you can’t leave, you can also try moving the device into the shade.

Keep your phone away from other electronic devices

Ever noticed how your phone tends to overheat when you place it on or next to your computer? Technology expert Nick Galov explains that “sometimes if you keep multiple phones or tablets next to each other, they can easily overheat. Since each device runs a lot of things in the background and uses energy, [your phone] shouldn’t be placed right next to a device with the same function.” Bottom line? A quick way to cool down an overheating phone is setting it down away from your other active devices.

Turn your phone off

If all else fails, one of the best ways to cool down your phone is to simply turn it off. According to Will Manuel, president and CEO of Mobile App and Website Development Agency, Core Mobile Apps, leaving your phone powered down for 30 to 60 seconds can help “the heat to dissipate within the phone and reset some of the memory-intensive processes that may have been causing the phone to overheat.” It’s also important to choose the right location to leave your phone while it cools down. “After disconnecting the power, place it in a cool and dry place (not a refrigerator or freezer as this causes more damage to the device),” advises Kevin Yurgin, data recovery engineer at Secure Data. Once you feel your phone cool down, feel free to turn it back on!

With these simple tricks to cool down an overheating phone, keeping your phone at a usable temperature will make staying connected so much easier—just like these cell phone accessories that will really improve your life.

Close up of young woman having coffee and reading news on mobile phone in the early morning before workd3sign/Getty Images

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Carley Lerner
Carley Lerner is a freelance writer and former editorial intern for Reader's Digest. She is a member of the Class of 2021 at Duke University, where she writes for the school newspaper, The Chronicle.