Why Does My Phone Get Hot and How Do I Cool It?

Leave your phone in the car on a hot summer day for a couple of hours and its temperature could rise to well above 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We’ve all done it! 

Although a hot phone might seem alarming, overheating isn’t a cause for concern — in most cases. There are several reasons your phone might be overheating, including overuse, exposure to the elements, and battery problems. If you find that your device gets excessively hot, it’s important to take some steps to cool it down and prevent it from overheating again. 

Read on to learn some common reasons your device gets hot and how to cool it down.  

5 common reasons your mobile phone gets hot

Before attempting to cool down your overheated phone, it’s worth taking some time to examine what caused it to overheat in the first place. Here’s a quick look at the most common causes. 

Viruses and malware

The impact of mobile malware goes beyond data leaks, software damage, and battery drainage. Viruses and malware can make your device work overtime behind the scenes, overload your phone’s processor, and cause the device to overheat 

The good news is that a robust mobile security tool like McAfee Mobile Security can help you protect your pocket-sized digital life by blocking malicious apps, threats, and malware from entering your digital space in real time. 

View the full report here for a deeper dive into current mobile threats. 

Video streaming and gaming

Let’s face it: Streaming video content on Netflix, running graphically demanding gaming apps, and recording videos for long periods of time can heat your phone’s central processing unit (CPU), leading to an unexpectedly hot Apple or Android phone 

You might wonder why these tasks don’t cause your computer or laptop to overheat, and the answer is simple. While computers have internal fans to keep the devices cool and running smoothly, phones don’t. This means that if you ask too much from your phone for an extended period, there’s a chance your phone’s temperature will rise quickly.  

Battery problems

Here’s the thing: As your phone’s battery health degrades, your phone is more likely to overheat 

A quick way to check whether a faulty battery is causing overheating is to look at whether the back of your device is heating up more than the front. This is a sign that your phone’s battery is to blame.  

Also, most devices come with a feature that allows you to check your battery’s health. You can find this feature on an iPhone by opening “Settings” and choosing “Battery.” 

Outdated apps

Although ignoring your app updates might not seem like much of a problem, it can pose overheating risks to your device. App updates include bug fixes, extra features, and security additions to improve your device’s performance and minimize overheating issues 

The official store handles all app updates (the App Store on iOS and Google Play on Android). 

Screen brightness

Turning your screen brightness up forces the battery to work overtime and creates more heat. It’s best to let your phone automatically adjust the screen brightness to match your environment and keep your phone’s temperature down. For example, at night when it’s darker, you don’t need your screen brightness as high.  

For bonus points, try using a static background instead of an animated wallpaper with widgets. 

Can overheating damage my phone permanently?

While a heat warning on a summer afternoon isn’t necessarily alarming, extreme temperatures can pose a threat to your phone’s operating system (OS) and overall health. Repeated exposure to heat can slow down your device and cause data loss and battery leakage.  

Keep these things in mind if your phone overheats

Follow these tips to cool down your hot phone and prevent overheating from happening again. 

Keep phone up to date

In addition to mobile security to block malware and viruses, be sure to update your phone regularly. Updates may fix bugs that cause excessive battery drain and heating, so here’s your reminder to update your apps and software if you haven’t done so in a while.  

Charge correctly

It’s true: Heat is the enemy of battery life. But did you know you can prevent overheating by following some best practices? 

  • Make sure you’re using the correct charger and charging cable for your cellphone. 
  • Avoid full cycle and overnight charging. 
  • Leave the device idle while it’s plugged in. 
  • Don’t cover your phone or keep it in a hot place while charging. 

Turn on airplane mode

Yes, you can use airplane mode even when you’re not flying at 10,000 feet. Turn on airplane mode if you want to speed up the cooling process. It allows you to continue using basic phone functions but turns off other nonessential, battery-draining processes (like Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and cellular signal search).  

Remove the protective case

Although cellphone cases are great for protecting our beloved digital devices from scratches and marks, they’re bad at cooling down. If your phone is overheating and you have it in a case, remove it to let the phone cool off 

Keep your phone away from direct sunlight

While it might be tempting to leave your phone on the sunbed while you’re swimming, it’s definitely not the right thing to do for your device’s health. Keep your phone away from direct sunlight if you want to keep it cool.  

Use antivirus protection

If you want to protect your device — and your personal data — from malware and viruses, antivirus software like McAfee Mobile Security can be a great ally. Among the many benefits, antivirus protection can protect your device from overheating due to malicious software infiltrating your device. 

The security app helps prevent malicious apps and online threats from entering your digital space by regularly scanning for unwanted visitors and blocking them in real-time.  

How malware causes mobile overheating

Of all the causes of a hot phone, warmth from malware is the most concerning. Here are three types of malware to look out for.  

  • Spyware: It’s no big surprise: Spyware is stealthy. Prying eyes can spy on your activity the moment you go online, from your usernames and passwords to your personal information and location data. Apart from that, spyware programs also warm up your phone.  
  • Trojans: The Trojan gets its name from Greek mythology, and it’s not without reason. In the story, Greek strategist Odysseus devises a clever plan to enter the walled city of Troy with a giant wooden horse that his enemies receive as a token of surrender. What they don’t know is that Odysseus and his men are hidden inside the belly of the horse, waiting to decimate the city of Troy from within. Trojan malware works the same way: It uses deception to trick unsuspecting users into running seemingly harmless computer programs that hide malicious motives. 
  • Cryptojacking: Since mining for cryptocurrency takes a great deal of processing power, cybercriminals now cryptojack phones and use computing power to generate cryptocurrency. If your cellphone gets hot when it’s not in use or your battery runs low unexpectedly fast, it’s possible that your device has been cryptojacked. 

Stay protected from viruses and malware with McAfee Mobile Protection

Mobile security threats may sound scary, but did you know that you can keep your phone secure with McAfee’s Mobile Protection? With just a few simple steps, you can feel better about the safety and security of your mobile device against malicious links or websites, unauthorized third-party activities, and phishing scams.  


You’re free to browse, surf, and connect — all while staying protected — with McAfee Mobile Security.  

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