Your iPhone or iPad is a hard-working computer, even though it’s small enough to fit in your pocket or a bag. But unlike desktop or laptop computers, it doesn’t have a heat sink or a fan to regulate its temperature and keep everything cool. When you put any device under stress, it will generate heat.
But there’s a difference between a device that’s warm to the touch and overheating. We’ll discuss why your iPhone or iPad is getting hot, along with how to diagnose and fix the problem.
Why Your iPhone or iPad Gets Hot
When you use a device for any length of time, it’ll get warm. That’s perfectly normal and should not concern you.
There are many reasons why your device might feel warm at times:
- Charging and using your device at the same time.
- Streaming a high-quality video for an extended period.
- Using GPS and real-time navigation controls in older devices.
- Setting up your device for the first time or restoring it from a backup.
- Using processor-intensive apps like a synthesizer, digital audio workstation, or video editor.
- While using graphic-intensive or augmented reality apps.
How Does Your Device Expel Heat?
The two main hardware components that produce heat are the system on a chip (SoC) and battery. The metal housing on your phone acts like one giant heatsink. When your device feels warm to the touch, it’s trying to dissipate the heat to keep it cool.
Apple uses ARM processors for powering mobile and tablet devices. They’re based on reduced instruction set computing (RISC) architecture that typically requires fewer transistors than x86 processors. Because of this design, they need less power and produce less heat. Also, they don’t need big heat sinks and fans to cool the device.
With the continuous advancement in chip technology, every iteration increases the clock speed with powerful yet energy-efficient cores. The powerful cores come in handy for performance-intensive tasks, while the energy-efficient cores can handle simple work like web browsing and email.
When Your iPhone Gets Too Hot
There’s a difference between warm and hot, which is even more significant when you compare noticeable heat and too hot to hold. Your iPhone or iPad works best when used between 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit (0 to 35 degrees Celsius). Low or high-temperature conditions can result in specific behavioral changes.
You may notice shorter battery life—or worse, reduced battery health. Certain activities that expose your device to a lot of heat will affect performance and behavior. They include:
- Leaving the device in a car on a hot day.
- Keeping your device in direct sunlight for an extended period.
- Using certain features in hot conditions, such as GPS tracking or navigation in your car.
How do you know when your phone has reached the point of being too hot? These are some of the common signs:
- Charging slows or stops.
- The display dims or goes black intermittently.
- Cellular radios enter a low-power state. The call quality may become poor during this time.
- The camera flash gets temporarily disabled.
- Graphic-intensive apps stop working properly, or even crash repeatedly.
- If your device exceeds a certain temperature threshold, you’ll see a temperature warning message saying “iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it.”
Fixing the Problem
When your iPhone gets too hot, you should take action to prevent damage to it. This includes:
- Stop charging your device.
- Turn it off and allow the heat to dissipate.
- Remove the case from your device, if applicable.
- Take the device out of direct sunlight, into the shade.
The lithium-ion batteries in today’s devices go through rigorous testing and are thus relatively safe. But when you expose them to extreme heat for extended periods, there’s a chance that your battery could explode or otherwise cause harm.
To quickly reduce overheating, many people recommend putting your iPhone in the fridge. But you should never do this.
Sudden changes in temperature like this can cause condensation, which could cause water damage to your iPhone’s internal components. Let your device cool off gradually, and avoid direct airflow from air conditioners on hot days.
If Your iPhone or iPad Gets Hot All the Time
If your device stays hot most or all the time, it may indicate a problem with either iOS or third-party apps. Try these troubleshooting steps to solve the problem.
Turn Off Background App Refresh
Background app refresh allows your apps to check for new information all the time. It happens automatically, consuming battery and CPU without you thinking about it. Your device may eventually stay hot if it’s constantly updating in the background. However, completely turning off this feature is overkill.
To figure out which app is the culprit, open the Settings app. Tap Battery and examine the battery usage of your apps. Look at the overall percentage, as well as total time onscreen and in the background of individual apps. This should help you figure out what apps consume battery when you’re not using them.
Then, tap General > Background App Refresh. Toggle off apps that consume significant resources in the background.
Apps installed on your device can crash in the background while they work. Although it may not be visible, your iPhone will stay warm or overheat from this in some cases.
If you have this problem, open the Settings app. Tap Privacy > Analytics > Analytics Data. Check the analytics data of apps you’ve used recently. Once you find the rogue app, quit it and check for any updates. You may also want to send an email to the developer for further investigation.
Reduce the Brightness
If your screen brightness is above 50 percent or so, your device has a greater chance of staying warm all the time. You should reduce this to decrease heat.
On an iPhone X or later, or iPad, swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen to bring up Control Center. If you have an iPhone 8 or earlier, swipe up from the bottom of the screen instead. Then drag the slider with the sun icon to decrease the brightness.
Sometimes, a bad network reception can heat up your device while it’s searching for a signal. This most often happens in areas with poor network connectivity.
Until you leave the area, you should switch to airplane mode to prevent battery drain and unnecessary heat generation. You’ll find a shortcut in Control Center, as detailed above.
In Case Your Heat Problem Still Persists
If the heating issue won’t go away after trying these fixes, ask yourself a few questions:
- Is your wall adapter working properly?
- Has your charging cable been damaged?
- Have you recently purchased the charged you’re using from an online retailer?
Try charging your device with a different cable, preferably the one that came with your iPhone. Third-party chargers purchased from non-certified sources can cause problems.
If you don’t have an official charger made by Apple, use a quality third-party Lightning cable that comes with the “Made for iPhone (MFi)” badge. Uncertified and fraying chargers can damage your device and create other problems.
Assuming that you’ve checked the charger and all the troubleshooting steps, we recommend making an appointment with the Genius Bar to let them investigate your device. If you have an AppleCare+ warranty, you likely won’t owe anything for the visit.
More iPhone Troubleshooting Tips
Your device will feel warm to touch after prolonged use, which is normal. If your iPhone is getting excessively hot, try to refrain yourself from using intensive features or exposing your device to extreme temperature conditions. With these tips discussed above, you’ll know when and how to take steps to keep your iPhone at an acceptable temperature.
Heating is not the only reason for all iPhone and iPad problems. If you think you have other issues, take a look at this guide to solve all kinds of common iPhone problems.