Your smartphone is a powerful device that brings many daily benefits. It acts as both a communication tool and an entertainment center. However, like any piece of technological hardware, your phone can have performance issues often caused by malware, viruses, storage problems, and cyber attacks.

For instance, you may notice that your smartphone is unusually hot. This could simply be a temporary issue caused by overuse, or it might point to a more serious problem. Let’s look at how periodic maintenance and safe use practices can help you deal with a hot phone.

The Source of the Heat

You may be walking along with your phone in your pocket and suddenly wonder why your phone gets hot. When this happens, the first thing you need to check is where the heat is coming from. Warmth from the back of a phone typically has a different cause than heat from the front.

The phone’s battery and the CPU are the direct sources of the heat since all activities you do in your phone are handled by these hardware technologies. A malfunctioning battery can produce a dangerously high temperature of over 45 degree celsius. Most smartphones are designed to withstand temperatures between 0º and 35º C. If the back of your phone gets uncomfortably hot due to battery issues, you should have it looked at by a professional technician.

The CPU, meanwhile, brings all running applications to life. It does calculations and handles data, whether it is an exciting game or a less thrilling spreadsheet. When you challenge your smartphone’s computing power, the heat will come from the front of your device.

Depending on which of the two is the source of the heat, here are the specific causes that affect the battery and the CPU, causing overheating:

Warmth from Overuse

The most common reason for a hot phone is heavy use. When you have some time to kill, it is easy to put your phone to work for entertainment purposes. However, some of the most entertaining activities also take extra processing and battery power.


When you are streaming your favorites videos in HD, your phone has to process a great deal of data. If you find yourself binge-watching the latest series, you may also find your phone getting much warmer than usual. One easy fix for this is to lower the video quality or resolution of the media you’re watching, so your battery and CPU would use less processing power.


If you do not plug your phone into a charger, you have probably noticed that some games drain your battery faster than others. The amount of power required for a game depends on its complexity. A slow-paced puzzle game is not much of a challenge for your phone’s processor. You can spend hours solving a virtual Sudoku without any extra heat.

3D shooters and massively multiplayer online (MMO) games are a different story. These games have cutting-edge graphics and fast action. When you are in the middle of a match, your phone has to use a great deal of processing power. If it feels like your phone is overheating, you might want to lower the level of detail in the game’s settings. This action will eliminate some processing power, but it might affect your gaming experience. So. it’s best to weigh your options and priorities before you start playing heavy games.

Background Applications

Many smartphone users forget that their applications do not close automatically. Often, when you turn off the phone, active apps still run in the background. Every open app on your phone draws a little bit of power. Some applications use a bit more. For example, applications that keep track of your location are often active behind the scenes. If your phone is warmer than usual or operating slowly, you may have a group of untended apps running in the background.

Searching for Cell Service

It is getting more unusual to find places without cell service. However, if you are out of range for some time, you may notice your phone getting warm. It means that your phone is trying to find an active network to provide service. If you know you will be out of range of cell or internet service, you can adjust the settings to prevent this problem.

Other Heating Issues

Aside from the hardware and software, a few other factors can cause temporary phone heat. Thankfully, you can resolve these issues easily.

Sunlight and Ambient Heat

If you are sitting outside by the pool with your phone, you may notice it is hot to the touch. The phone’s body will absorb heat from the sun, especially if you have a black case. If you let your phone sit inside, it will cool down.

Screen Brightness and Other Settings

Another common heat hazard is setting your screen brightness to the highest level. This setting will demand extra power and generate warmth. Maxing out many of the audio and visual settings on your phone can contribute to heat.

Warmth from Malware

The typical causes of a hot phone are temporary. If you can figure out why your phone is working too hard, you can correct the problem by taking a break or closing some programs. However, Malware is a more dangerous reason for a hot phone.


Data is a valuable commodity. Some programs, even legitimate ones, may include spyware, a program that sends personal information like location data to the development company. You may unknowingly allow them to do this during the download and installation phase, so always check the terms and conditions of your applications. Spyware programs don’t just spy, they can also warm up your phone.


Trojan malware has been one of the biggest problems of both desktop computers and smartphones in the past. Cybercriminals create these programs to steal sensitive information. The Trojan horse, for example, spreads dangerous pieces of code that can hide in emails, links, or even legitimate-looking applications. Once they get installed on your device, these malware can cause problems, like hijacking your email account or getting access to your sensitive information.


A more recent type of malware can also cause phones to radiate heat. According to several tech companies, cybercriminals now cryptojacks smartphones. Mining for cryptocurrency takes a great deal of processing power. For miners, it can be expensive to obtain the processors they need for the task. Cybercriminals can implant malware that runs in your phone background and steals some of the processing power to put toward mining cryptocurrency. If your phone gets hot even when you have not been using it or your battery runs low unexpectedly fast, it’s possible your phone has been cryptojacked.

Methods to Cool Your Smartphone

The average temperature of smartphones ranges from 37 to 43 °C (98.6 to 109.4 °F). Don’t panic if your phone gets hot and reaches a temperature higher than normal. As a start, give it time to cool down and start identifying the heat source or the main problem, so you could follow specific solutions.

However, when identifying problems, it would be best not to expose the phone to a sudden drop in temperature. Going from hot to cold can crack your screen and cause other damage. Here are simple steps you can take to lower the temperature safely.

Remove the Cover

The protective case or accessory on your phone retains heat. By removing the cover, the device will be better able to release heat and cool down.

Enter Airplane Mode

Active cell phones can interfere with flight signals in airplanes and cause overheating since they constantly search for cellular or wireless networks. If your phone is heating up, entering airplane mode can lower the draw on the battery.

Remove Unnecessary Features

When you first purchased your phone, you may have invested a few extra dollars in 3D backgrounds and third-party applications to personalize your phone. If these features require processing power, you may want to remove them if you’re experiencing frequent heat issues.

Stay Up-To-Date

When an app or operating system causes one phone to heat up, it may have the same effect on every phone of that model. When developers realize the problem, they will update the software and handle the performance issue. By making sure that your phone is running the latest software version, you will have fewer processing problems.

Protecting Your Technology

An overheating phone should not be taken lightly as it can bring other disastrous performance issues, such as poor battery life and lagging problems. As such, it’s crucial to identify and solve the problem immediately. Here’s how to protect your phone when it’s overheating.

Is It Dangerous When A Phone Gets Too Hot?

Smartphones that frequently overheat have shorter lifespans. Too much heat can damage the phone’s battery, display, data, and other critical components. When this happens, you’ll experience hardware and software performance issues, depending on the heat source.

How To Prevent Your Phone From Overheating

If your phone constantly gets hot, diagnose the issue immediately. The diagnosis can identify one or more of the following problems:

  • Overuse through streaming or gamingi
  • Background apps or processes
  • Ambient heat
  • Spyware or other malware

Once you recognize the problem, try to resolve it by following the aforementioned tips, such as closing extra apps, deleting unnecessary features, taking a break, and other steps to reduce strain on the processor.

If malware seems to be the issue, McAfee is ready to help. We develop cybersecurity products that actively seek to block malware and protect your personal data before it infiltrates your device and cause hardware and software issues, particularly overheating. Anti-malware protection like McAfee Mobile Security will not just defend you against malware and other cybercrimes, it can also keep your data safe and protected.