All technology is prone to the occasional malfunction, your smartphone included. If your phone feels exceptionally hot and you’re wondering why it is overheating, there are several possible causes to consider.

An overheated phone might seem alarming, but it usually isn’t cause for concern. It’s a fairly simple issue to resolve with a few easy steps. Read on to learn some of the most common reasons your phone gets hot, how to troubleshoot an overheated phone, and how to prevent overheating in the first place.

Why Do Phones Get Hot?

Various factors might cause a phone to get hot. Understanding the different causes for an overheated phone—like the temperature outside or your phone’s battery—can help you fix the problem and prevent it in the future.

Warm Environment or Direct Sunlight

If you’ve ever left your phone out on a sunny day, you’ve likely already witnessed how quickly the sun’s UV rays can cause it to overheat. Direct sunlight is a common culprit of an overheated phone—so cover your phone from the sun while you’re outdoors.

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Aside from prolonged, direct contact with the sun, your phone might also overheat after sitting in a warm environment for long periods of time, such as in your car on a hot summer day.

Overloading the Processor

While smartphones are basically just miniature computers, a key difference between the two is that while computers have internal fans to keep things cool while they run, phones do not. While smartphones are great at diffusing heat for everyday use, there’s a limit to what they can handle. If you have too much running on your phone at once, it can overload the processor and cause it to overheat.

Examples of what might trigger an overloaded processor include running too many apps at once, streaming video content like Netflix or YouTube, recording long videos on your phone, or playing mobile games for an extended period of time. Additionally, sub-optimal settings can drain your processor, like animated wallpapers or widgets or keeping your screen brightness on high every time you use it.

Malware

Sometimes your phone seems to be overheating for no identifiable reason. If you know you haven’t left your phone in a warm environment and aren’t overloading the phone’s processor with lots of apps, the issue could stem from malware on your phone.

Just like desktop computers are susceptible to online viruses and malware—which will sometimes cause the computer’s processor to overload and shut down—the same can happen to your phone. You may have malware planted in your phone that keeps apps, widgets, and other harmful processes running in the background that strain your phone’s processor. Too much strain and your processor will give off too much heat.

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Diagnosing Your Phone’s Temperature

It’s important to remember that all phones get hot to some degree. So how do you know if what you’re dealing with is cause for concern? Generally, a phone’s internal temperature can range anywhere from 98.6 to 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit when operating normally.

While there’s no way to get a temperature reading on an iPhone, you can use the Battery Health feature to view information about battery usage and what apps are draining the most battery. You can find this data by opening Settings, then choosing Battery. From the Battery screen, choose Battery Health.

For Android users, an app called AIDA64 can give you important details on your phone’s hardware and software, such as how much RAM you’re using, how fast your CPU is having to run, and how hot your phone is.

How to Cool Down Your Phone

If you find yourself with an overheated phone, there are some simple steps you can take to troubleshoot it. Try the following to get your phone back in working order.

Avoid Direct Sunlight

If your phone overheated because it was left out in the sun, remove it from the sunlight as soon as possible. As long as it remains under the sun’s rays, it’s unlikely that it will be able to cool down.

That said, don’t put your phone in the freezer—some think this will bring the phone’s temperature down faster, but drastically changing the temperature from hot to cold can cause further damage to your phone. Instead, just bring it inside in a cool dry place and leave it alone for a few minutes, and it should return to normal.

Turn On Airplane Mode

Airplane mode can help combat an overheated phone because it turns off all non-essential programs that might be running in the background. This may speed up the cooling process.

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Another option is to completely turn your phone off, which is one of the fastest ways you can get your phone’s temperature back to normal.

Close Out Your Apps and Keep Them Updated

Running a ton of apps in the background can push your phone to its limits. If it’s overheated, close all your apps down until the temperature returns to normal.

Additionally, if you haven’t updated your apps in a while, it’s a good idea to do so. Many app updates tackle bug fixes that can improve the efficiency of your phone and keep the processor from overloading in the future.

Take the Case Off

Phone cases are critical for protection from physical damage, but many of them have poor ventilation. They can actually trap the heat in your phone and interfere with it cooling down. If your phone is overheated and you have it in a case, take the case off to help bring the temperature down.

Place It Next to a Fan

If you have access to a fan or a car AC, give your phone access to cool air to speed up the cooling process. Even if you don’t have access to a fan, simply blowing on your phone yourself or fanning it with your hands can help it return to a normal temperature more quickly.

How to Prevent Your Phone from Overheating in the Future

If you’ve dealt with an overheated phone in the past and want to avoid it in the future, there are a few simple precautions you can take to lower the chances of it happening again. Here are some preventative measures you can take to keep your phone from overheating:

Keep Your Apps Updated

If your phone has ever overheated for no apparent reason, you may want to investigate some of your apps. One or more of them could have a bug that’s causing your phone to overheat. To keep your phone performing optimally overall and to prevent overheating in the future, it’s best to always keep your apps and phone settings updated.

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Purge Unused Apps

Unused apps running in the background cause your phone to work harder than it has to, which strains the battery and phone processor. This can result in overheating. It’s a good idea to regularly clean out your phone of any unused apps or downloads that are weighing your phone’s processor down, which can lead to overheating in the future.

Charge Your Phone Correctly

Did you know that using your phone while it’s charging causes your phone to produce more heat? You can prevent an overheated phone by leaving your phone alone while it’s charging.

In addition to this, using the incorrect charger for your phone can also contribute to overheating.

Some chargers are designed for stronger phones, and if you use a charger that’s not suited for your particular phone model it can cause battery damage and overheating. The main thing to make sure of is that the input of your phone is the same as the output of the charging adapter you’re using.

Turn Off Unnecessary Settings

Certain phone settings, like high brightness, GPS, or Bluetooth, can keep your phone’s battery processor in overdrive unnecessarily, which can lead to overheating. To avoid this, remember to turn energy-draining settings off to preserve your phone’s energy and avoid overheating.

Use an Antivirus Software

Sometimes overheating is caused by malware that’s been downloaded on your phone or bugs in your apps. Using antivirus software is one of the best ways to protect your phone from overheating as well as from data and security breaches.

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While antivirus software is already built into iPhones, Android users can benefit from a mobile antivirus that detects viruses, malware, and other threats that might compromise your phone. Panda Security offers a free antivirus software for Android that can work for your phone and tablets.

While an overheated phone might seem like cause for concern, it usually just requires a quick fix to get your phone back in working order. Don’t leave your phone out in hot environments and limit how many apps and programs you have running on your phone at once to avoid overheating. Most importantly, protect yourself from malware and other cyber threats by having the proper antivirus software installed on your smartphone and computer.