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TECH LAB

How to help your smartphone beat the heat

Jamie-John Kehewin shows his phone to classmates while taking a break in the shade.COLE BURSTON/AFP via Getty Images

As the Great Heatwave of 2022 simmers on, a quick reminder: Smartphones get heatstroke too.

The chips inside your phone generate considerable heat, especially when they’re engaged in a heavy-duty task like shooting videos or playing games. Now try doing this on a sunny day as temperatures approach triple digits.

You might see an overheat warning on your screen, or even a notice that it’s shutting down to avoid permanent damage to the hardware.

Don’t let it come to this.

Keep your phone out of the sun, and don’t leave it inside a hot car. If possible, carry it in something shady ― a purse, briefcase, or inside pocket.

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Consider removing the phone’s protective case. Those things protect your costly device from scratches and cracks, but they’re also heat traps. You need to wear less clothing in July; so does your phone.

If you must recharge the phone, shut it off until it’s done. Charging generates lots of heat.

Switch the phone into Low Power mode, to dial back the processor. Some apps may run a little slower, but usually the difference is trivial. And your battery will last longer too.

Turn off every feature you don’t actually need. Switch off Bluetooth if you’re not using a Bluetooth device. The same goes for Wi-Fi. If you’re not expecting calls, you could even try switching to airplane mode for a while. This turns off all your wireless communication chips, which will cool things down in a hurry.

Even in airplane mode, you can take photos and videos, and play games. But maybe you should resist the urge. These are energy-intensive tasks that generate lots of waste heat. If you must shoot vacation videos or run up the score in Candy Crush, do it sparingly.

Kill every app that you’re not actually using. On newer iPhones and Androids, you can swipe up on the screen to see apps you most recently used. With another swipe you can shut them down completely to save power and heat.

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There are also settings for controlling apps that seem to be dormant, but are actually running in the background. For instance, on iPhones, there’s a control that turns off all background app activity. On Androids, there’s a control that lets you put all unused apps into sleep mode. Either way, it can keep your phone a few degrees cooler.

In addition, Android users can get handy free apps like Cooling Master. These apps tell you the phone’s internal temperature and enable you to shut down features that are heating things up.

And then there’s the best solution of all: Hit the Off button and give yourself and your phone a vacation. You couldn’t pick a better time.


Hiawatha Bray can be reached at hiawatha.bray@globe.com. Follow him @GlobeTechLab.