As CPU clusters have improvements to clock speeds every year and become more powerful, heat is always a byproduct. Heat isn’t good for the phone since it damages several smartphone components. It could damage the motherboard, the camera sensors, and, more importantly, your battery. To prevent this damage, your phone deals with heat in several ways.
The most common way is throttling performance. In other words, your phone reduces the performance to lower temperatures. This means the phone could perform slower; games won’t work either, reducing strain on the SOC. As a result, it won’t heat up as much.
Heat also has to do with the recent nanometer war, where the chips contain tiny transistors (~4nm and 5nm). When transistors are this small, manufacturers pack more transistors into a chip. This boosts both performance and efficiency but creates a lot of heat, too.
Using efficiency cores instead of just performance cores counters this, but iPhones still heat up when doing something CPU-intensive. The SOC also consists of the GPU, which is also responsible for heat. As graphics get more powerful and gaming becomes a very important niche, we have to control heat from there, too.
It’s worth noting that heating issues don’t happen to everyone in all use cases. If you live in a place with generally normal ambient temperatures under 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35C), you won’t have any problems with even GPU-intensive gaming, CPU-intensive rendering, or multitasking. However, if you stay in a place with higher ambient temperatures, your phone can get hot with even basic tasks outdoors.
This article will speculate on why iPhones heat this quickly at higher ambient temperatures and how you can solve the problem.
Why do iPhones heat up?
Flagship chipsets with cutting-edge 4 or 5-nanometer processing are already heat-prone. However, a major reason iPhones heat up dramatically is the lack of an active cooling system. iPhones still use a traditional cooling system with thermal paste, which isn’t enough for many intensive tasks.
Most Android flagships pack large cooling systems. Using vapor chambers, liquid cooling, or graphite layers will substantially improve the cooling of iPhones. This directly ties into how other companies optimize for fast charging. Battery splitting and charging at high wattages require extensive cooling, but iPhones might need this despite charging under 30W.
Most iPhones stop charging at 80% or 90% in summer, and that’s because the phone has to remain cool and prevent internal component damage. Once the phone heats up, iPhones counter this by severely lowering the brightness levels.
The brightness automatically goes down so low that the screen is barely visible. This is particularly annoying for shooter or FPS games where you can’t see the cross-hair. After this, your flashlight typically turns off. The toggle turns grey, and you won’t be able to turn it on from anywhere; it won’t even work in the camera app.
In more extreme cases, the phone starts severely dropping frames and runs below 45 frames a second, which is very noticeable to the point where the experience is very laggy. You can’t multitask or game now; apps also take much longer to open.
Upon prolonged use at hot ambient temperatures, your phone might display a message that says, “iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it.” It’ll just display an emergency button at the bottom, and there’s nothing you can do. There are some cases where the phone completely turns off, too.
In which situations do iPhones most commonly heat up?
Under direct sunlight: If you’re using navigation apps on high brightness while also playing music and scrolling through another app under direct sunlight, this is a very intensive task for your phone.
While gaming: If you play demanding titles like Genshin Impact, Asphalt 9, Car X Street, or Honkai: Star Rail on high frame rates and max graphics, then both the CPU and GPU are under heavy load. Depending on your temperature, the phone has to lower brightness or throttle the performance. The load on the SOC is even heavier if you pair this with some multitasking.
Hot ambient temperatures: Sometimes, your phone may heat up even if you’re doing something as simple as scrolling a social media app, listening to music, browsing the web, watching a video, or talking on a call. Apple’s website officially recommends up to 35C (95F) for using your iPhone.
Intensive use: If you multitask with picture-in-picture mode for a long time or edit a video for a long time and export multiple videos back-to-back, it’s easy for your phone to heat up.
Poorly optimized software update: Some software updates just aren’t optimized well for the hardware, and you may have to wait a few weeks before an update fixes things. It’s essential to keep an eye on bug trackers to find out whether an update has widespread issues or if it doesn’t.
General component wear and tear: As components like your battery age over time, there’s a chance that they might not perform at their best after a couple of years.
Apple also says that your phone might heat up more than usual during device setup, charging wirelessly, restoring data from a backup, streaming high-resolution or high-frame videos, using AR apps, or using performance and graphic-intensive apps or games.
10 Ways to Stop Your iPhone From Getting Too Hot
1: Basic troubleshooting
Since restarting your phone clears up all RAM and cache and boots out all applications running in the background, this will probably solve your problems with heat management. Before you restart, try clearing all the apps running in the background, and then wait a few minutes. If your heating problems persist, you can try restarting the phone.
If you’re sure about not getting any emergency calls, you can try briefly putting your phone on airplane mode. However, this will disable any cellular connectivity to your device, so do this only if you have access to Wi-Fi and there’s still some way for others to reach you.
2: Stop using third-party chargers
Beginning with the iPhone 12 series, Apple stopped providing a charging brick in the box. You only get the lightning to USB-C cable in the box. Instead of buying the official charger, many people use a third-party charger, which might cause problems.
It would be best to have a Made For iPhone (MFI) charger, or you’ll have to buy Apple’s official charging brick to charge your phone. If it’s a third-party charger from an unreliable company, there’s a chance it didn’t go through rigorous testing, and this is a grey area where there’s no proper regulation.
3: Turn off the Background App Refresh
Background App Refresh is turned on by default. It allows your apps to update their content from the internet if they’re open in the background, and you don’t have to refresh the apps manually. This also allows for brief background uploads and downloads.
For example, your Twitter or Instagram feed automatically refreshes with the latest information if this feature is on. However, it consumes the battery on your phone and also uses your internet connection (both cellular and Wi-Fi). Turning this feature off might solve your heating problems.
It shouldn’t impact your daily use much since iOS is typically very restrictive with background tasks. You have to update your social media feeds manually.
4: Update your software
Despite recent software like iOS 17, many reports about overheating issues exist. While such problems are passable on Beta versions, heating issues are also present on the stable 17 version. It was supposed to address the problems with battery and heat, but it doesn’t appear to have done so.
The phone also starts lagging and dropping frames in case of unrefined software. Also, the phone may stop charging up after a certain percentage. This differs from the optimized charging, which displays a Charging on Hold message, saying that charging will resume when the iPhone cools down.
People say the issues are worse when connecting to the Apple Watch and streaming Apple Music. We can put down such issues to software problems, and the best way to fix these is to stay updated. Go to Settings, and tap on General. Under the Software Update section, wait till it searches for updates. If you’re sure there’s a new update, but you didn’t get it yet, restart the phone. Then, download and install the update to see if it fixes the problems.
5: Try using low-power mode
Low Power Mode turns off full 5G and uses it only when necessary during video streaming. Your screen will automatically turn off after thirty seconds of inactivity. It reduces brightness and limits frames to 60FPS on iPhones with a high refresh rate. It pauses iCloud Photo Sync and also automatic downloads. Mail Fetch and background app refresh are automatically turned off, too.
The GPU and CPU also won’t perform at their peak, which is supposed to conserve your battery. However, they’re also handy features to prevent heat. Lower power consumption and lower effort on the SOC automatically mean that the phone isn’t asking for too many resources. As a result, your phone shouldn’t heat up as much as before.
6: Try using Auto brightness
Auto brightness is enabled by default. You can enable it in Accessibility settings if you’ve turned it off. We recommend not fiddling with the slider since your phone has to use more power to make the display brighter, which does cause heating issues. Auto brightness automatically adjusts to ambient light and is typically well-calibrated on iPhones.
Using your phone at 80% or 100% brightness all the time might cause trouble. Try switching to auto brightness for a while.
7: Check your App Privacy Report
Try checking the sensor and data access under the Privacy & Security tab in the Settings app. If an app is accessing your location or camera too many times for no reason, try uninstalling and reinstalling the app. Also, look at app network activity for any abnormal behavior.
8: Location Services & GPS
Using GPS all the time is unnecessary. It wastes your battery and also gives away your location to trackers unnecessarily. If you don’t need Location Services, turn it off to preserve the battery and reduce heating.
9: Temporarily pause intensive tasks
If you’re in a place with hot ambient temperatures, wait until temperatures drop below 35C (95F) before you use the phone for intensive tasks like heavy gaming, multitasking, or video editing. It’s not an ideal solution, but it does help temporarily mitigate the heating problems.
10: Try avoiding wireless charging
Wireless charging generates a lot of heat and also wastes energy. People use it while sleeping for overnight trickle charging, which is fine since the adaptive battery stops charging at 80% and fills up the last 20% an hour or two before you wake up.
However, wireless charging in your car is prone to causing heating issues since the temperatures will already be high if you use navigation. Moreover, the speed might be enough to keep it from dropping its charge. Since it’s inefficient and slow, we recommend using a faster-wired charger that doesn’t generate as much heat.
How to cool down an overheating iPhone
Fix 1: Use an external cooler
There are many coolers from companies like Spinbot that are inexpensive and offer substantial cooling for your iPhone. It’s a tiny fan that helps cool the iPhone down externally. It’s useful for gaming sessions since the phone won’t get as hot and drop frames. If your phone is currently overheating, a cooler will solve the problem.
Fix 2: Remove it from a heavy temperature zone
Apple doesn’t recommend leaving your phone in your car since it’s very easy for temperatures to rise and cause heating problems for your iPhone. Using the device under direct sunlight is also not recommended since it can damage the hardware. We recommend stopping intensive tasks at hot temperatures until the phone cools down.