Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen temperatures skyrocket all over the globe. But finding an escape to the heat and cooling off at the pool or lake won’t just affect you — it could also affect your mobile devices that are out in the heat with you. For most mobile devices, like phones, lithium-ion batteries and high heats can often be a volatile mix. When internal temperatures of a smartphone grow too high, your device could potentially shut off, at best. At worst, your battery could expand to dangerous levels, and even combust. Most smartphones will provide you with a warning message if the device is overheated before anything bad happens, which will give you time to either power off the device or cool it down yourself. It should work okay again once it cools down, but you may have to help it escape the heat.
Both iPhones and Android devices have similar temperature limits and are known to flash temperature warning signs when exposed to extreme weather. A spokesperson for antivirus company AVG said, “Both iPhones and Androids are designed to function between 32 to 92 degrees Fahrenheit (0-35 Celsius), but exposure to temperatures outside of that range can have a negative impact on your phone’s performance or hardware.”
Due to the fluids contained inside lithium-ion batteries that work through chemical reactions, once external heat is applied to the battery, the fluid can start to evaporate, potentially damaging the internal structure of the battery. But if you find that your smartphone is struggling to cope with the heat, here are a few steps you can take to cool it down:
Keeping your phone out of direct heat:
- Now that you’re aware that an overheating phone is a real problem, make sure you are keeping your phone in the shade, at the very least.
- If you’re at the pool or lake trying to cool off, be sure to keep your phone tucked away in a beach bag. Not only will it keep your device out of direct heat but will keep your phone nice and dry.
- It’s also a bad idea to leave your phone in a hot car. Even if its tucked away in a glove compartment or the center console, away from sunlight, the trapped heat inside the vehicle will cause your phone to overheat.
Limit your phone usage while out and about in the heat:
- Take preventative measures to turn off functions you aren’t using (e.g. Bluetooth, LTE, Wi-Fi, GPS and any apps that run in the background), this will mean less work for your battery.
- The less your phone has to do, the less its processor has to run, the less change it’ll grow too hot inside.
If you phone begins to feel hot to the touch, take these steps:
- Remove any accessories you have attached to your phone, such as cases and portable chargers. This will allow cooler air to circulate around the phone’s metal or glass surfaces.
- Power down the phone and let the processor completely spin down.
- Set your device aside and let it cool down in shade.
- If possible and desired, you can speed along the cool down process by holding your phone in front of an AC unit or fan for a short period of time.
- We recommend waiting at least 15 minutes before powering the device back on to see if it’s been sufficiently cooled. Once it’s back on, there are various battery-saving modes you can enable to help prevent it from overheating again.
- Which every your choice of method, make sure it’s a safe way to cool your device. We DO NOT recommend sticking your device in a cooler or freezer because rapid temperatures changes can be very bad and potentially dangerous for phones.
If you notice a bulge in your phone, this more than likely means that the high temperatures has led the lithium-ion battery to swell, which is extremely dangerous, and you should take the following steps:
- If the device has developed cracked edges or starts to leak fluid, do not touch it with your bare hands. Use gloves or tools that will help you avoid physical contact with the device.
- Move it to a safe location, for example, a concrete floor in the middle of a garage, or a metal baking track, 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, even if it did not experience a thermal event.
These are just a few tips and tricks to help your device survive the summer heat. It’s always important to take the practical precautions to keep your device cool, especially given that so many of us rely on these devices to hold our personal and sensitive information and help us with everyday tasks.