The iPhone is a pretty hot tech gadget, but when it gets too warm it can start to misbehave. Overheating isn't a huge problem for the iPhone, especially here in the UK, but it's always a bit of a worry when it happens.
This guide to keeping your iPhone cool will help prevent overheating problems.
Tips to keep an iPhone cool
If your iPhone keeps overheating, you should look into where and how you are using it. These tips will help:
- Remove the case. Sounds obvious. Is obvious! But this will help.
- Don't leave it in a car. Temperatures can rise in parked cars quite rapidly. Take the iPhone with you when parked.
- Avoid direct sunlight. Unless you're somewhere extremely hot this may be a bit extreme. But if you're on holiday somewhere fiercely sunny then keep the iPhone in a bag.
- Avoid playing games. Games, and particularly graphically advanced games, tax the processor, which heats up the device.
- Stop using Bluetooth, because it provides an additional source of heat. You can do this from the Control Centre: swipe up and tap the Bluetooth icon.
- Turn off Location Services. GPS is one item that heats up the iPad the most. Turn it off using Settings > Privacy > Off.
- Avoid using Map directions. Using the Maps turn-by-turn directions mode adds a lot of extra heat to the iPhone.
- Avoid charging until you get somewhere cooler, or the iPhone's had a chance to cool down. Charging heats up the device.
- Turn on Airplane mode. This turns off GPS, Bluetooth, WiFi and Cellular data. It's on Control Centre: swipe up from the Home or lock screen.
- Turn the iPhone off. It's a bit extreme but if you're worried about overheating then keeping the iPhone switched off when not in use can help. Hold down the Sleep/Wake button and slide to power off the device.
Hopefully these tips will help you to keep the iPhone running at an acceptable temperature. If not, it's possible that there is a more serious fault, and you should make an appointment at Apple's Genius Bar.
How hot should an iPhone run?
The iPhone 7 is designed to operate correctly in areas where the temperature is between between 0º and 35º C. This is a fairly good range for UK users, as our temperature rarely strays far above or below those two points.
However, it is possible for the iPhone to experience temperatures outside of these two areas. You should be especially careful taking the iPhone into either refrigerated environments (such as ice-bars or cooling areas), or leaving it in a parked car in the height of summer. Both of these can push the temperature outside of its operating norm.
What happens when an iPhone overheats?
When the iPhone starts to overheat it will display a warning message. This will say that "the iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it". Normally this will be displayed on a black background, although if you're using Navigation it will appear as an overlay alert.
To resume use of your device as quickly as possible, turn it off, move it to a cooler environment, and allow it to cool down. The following things will happen when your iPhone is in 'cool down' mode:
- The device stops charging.
- The display dims or goes black.
- Cellular radios will enter a low-power state. The signal may weaken during this time.
- The camera flash is temporarily disabled.
This can be a bit unnerving when you first see it. But aside from the inconvenience of not being able to use the phone temporarily, there are usually no further problems. You should place the iPhone somewhere cool.
Read more: Apple Support: Keeping devices within acceptable operating temperatures
Is my iPhone going to explode?
This is very unlikely, but not impossible.
iPhones have been known to overheat to catastrophic levels - on one occasion melting the floor mat in a Florida woman's car - but these have been isolated cases and usually turn out to be the result of misadventure of some kind. The mat-melting iPhone, for instance, had been dropped in a pool some time before. (If your iPhone is dropped in water and then miraculously recovers, you should still get it checked out. Internal corrosion could cause trouble down the line.)
In March 2017, CCTV footage emerged of an iPhone 6 Plus, which had been taken into a repair shop, being dropped by its panicked owner when it started to billow with smoke; Simon Owen, the proprietor of the shop (in Australia), reported afterwards that "our service counter has a giant hole in it".
In this case the phone was damaged previously, and the 'explosion' seems to have happened when the owner pressed down on the broken screen to show what was wrong with it. But this was not an unprecedented incident, even at that shop, whose owner said that three years ago a similar mishap happened with an iPhone 5.
"When they blow, they smoke like that because the two chemicals in the battery mix," said Owen. "It sets off a toxic green haze. It set the whole bin on fire."
If you're wondering about exploding phones right now, it's probably because you've heard about Samsung and its overheating (but otherwise rather excellent) Note 7 phablet. The batteries in some Note 7 handsets overheated to dangerous levels, to the extent that Samsung has now recalled the product completely, and won't be making any more. You can read more about the Samsung Note 7 incident here: Note 7 discontinued | How to exchange Note 7 or get a refund.
This is alarming stuff, but bear in mind that this affects only this one model in Samsung's smartphone line-up, and none in Apple's iPhone lineup. Rival phone manufacturers sometimes source components - including battery units - from the same suppliers, but there is presently no suggestion whatsoever that this fault will cause problems for Apple or other companies other than Samsung.