How to Keep Your Phone Cool in the Sweltering Summer

Like 2021, summer 2022 is breaking a number of heat records. Austin, Texas reported that July is trending as one of the hottest on record at the Camp Mabry climate site. Overseas, the UK issued its first ever “Red Extreme” heat warning amid a devastating heat wave in Europe. 

The first day of fall is Sept. 22, so it’s likely there are many more hot days ahead, so it’s important to find ways to stay cool. Just don’t forget that your phone could also be feeling the heat. 

Phone batteries and high heats can be a volatile mix. When internal temperatures grow too high, your phone could shut off, at best. At worst, the battery could expand to dangerous levels, and even combust. It’s much more common for a phone to turn itself off when it gets too hot to function, and then you’re left without a working phone. Worse, you might not even realize it.

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Your phone will display a warning message if it’s overheated and needs to shut down. It should work OK again once it cools down, but you may have to help it escape the heat.

Here are some tips to protect your phone in the heat and avoid that scary warning message that tells you it’s going to stop working.

Don’t leave your phone in direct sunlight

Now that you’re aware that an overheating phone is a real problem, make sure you keep your prized possession out of harmful rays.

If you’re at the pool or the beach, keep your phone tucked under your lounge chair towel or in a beach bag — especially if you take a catnap or a dip in the pool.

It’s also a bad idea to leave your phone in a hot car (e.g. in the trunk or glove box) or even in a ray of sunlight inside the house where greenhouse gases can cause interior temperatures to climb. 

Try not to use your phone too much in the heat

If your phone is hotter to the touch than usual, skip straight to the tips below. But if you know you’re going to be outside and it’s starting to warm up, take preventative measures to turn off the functions you aren’t using — Bluetooth, LTE, Wi-Fi, GPS and any apps that run in the background.

The less your phone is doing, the less its processor has to run, the less of a chance it’ll grow too hot inside.

Hand holding an overheating phone

If your phone starts to overheat, a message should show up on your screen.

Jason Cipriani/CNET

How to cool down your overheated phone

1. Remove the charger cable if you plugged it in.
2. Move it into a cool, dark place.
3. Turn off the phone to let the processor completely spin down and cool.
4. Remove the case if it’s in one. This allows cooler air to circulate around the phone’s metal or glass surfaces.
5. Let cool, dry air blow on it (from your car’s AC, a fan or your refrigerator for a short period of time). This will help bring the phone’s internal temperature down faster and get it working again.
6. We recommend waiting at least 15 minutes, or longer, before turning it on to see if it’s sufficiently cooled.

Phone in a pile of matches

Keep your phone’s battery from overheating.

Josh Miller/CNET

What to do (and not do) if your battery begins to swell 

If your battery ever looks like it’s swelling or bulging, this could be a sign that your phone is in serious trouble. If it develops cracked edges or starts leaking fluid, do not touch it with your bare hands.

Use gloves or some other covering to place it into a bag and move it to a safe location, for example, a concrete floor in the middle of the garage, or a metal baking tray, in case it implodes or catches fire.

Immediately contact your carrier or device maker for customer service support. Do not attempt to use your phone. As we said before, this situation is extremely rare, so follow practical precautions to keep your device cool on even the hottest days.

For more information, check out how to tell the difference between heat stroke and heat exhaustion, as well as how to save on your AC costs

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