How to keep your phone cool and functioning in a heatwave – The Washington Post | Hot Mobile Press

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Record-breaking heatwaves sweep across parts of the United States and Europe, igniting wildfires and stunning some weather watchers in the process. And to make matters worse, some believe these types of severe heatwaves are only going to get more frequent.

In situations like these, staying informed and connected to other people becomes even more important than usual. There’s a catch, though: our smartphones may be just as prone to overheating as we are.

More often than not, your phone gets warm for a fairly innocuous reason — you might be playing a game that’s taxing the device’s processor, or it’s connected to a high-speed charger. In other cases, overheating can result from the misbehaviour of one or more apps, or even from a specific type of chip design. The point is that it’s not uncommon for phones to run hot and they’re generally pretty good at compensating for it.

But when hot summer days – or a full blown heat wave – come along, your phone may struggle to dissipate the extra heat inside. Once this happens, you may not be able to use your phone at all until it cools down, and that’s no good for anyone. Here are a few things you can do to keep your phone functional and cool when it’s too hot outside.

Heat waves are getting hotter and more frequent. Here’s how to prepare.

Keep your phone out of the sun

Using your phone in the sun — say, taking a few photos — means it can absorb heat quickly. And if it’s particularly sunny, your phone might try to increase the screen brightness to make reading easier. While that can be helpful, it also means your phone will use more power, increasing the chances of the phone shutting down to protect itself.

“I’ve traveled through some hot states, and I always instinctively place my phone on the dash mount to navigate,” says Jon-Erik Hylle, project manager at repair resource website iFixit. “It inevitably turns itself off due to overheating. The moral of the story is to keep devices out of direct sunlight.”

Don’t squeeze your phone too hard

Ideally, that means staying completely away from your phone, although we find that’s a lot harder than it sounds. If you can’t quite tear yourself away — or if you have a good reason you need to be by your phone — the next best thing is to limit what you do with it.

Avoiding using your phone’s camera is a good example, especially for capturing videos. (People don’t think much about it, but capturing video footage works on many parts of a smartphone at once.)

Using your phone as a portable hotspot is another common way to heat things up quickly. I watched my iPhone display the dreaded temperature warning after going into hotspot service on a not-so-hot day in San Francisco. Skip it if at all possible. The same goes for graphically rich games: these can demand a lot of power from your phone’s processors, and avoiding that load will keep your device cooler for longer.

Some cases could make it difficult for phones to effectively dissipate the heat building up inside them. If you routinely keep your phone in a case, consider removing it and storing the device in a pocket or bag that doesn’t directly touch your body.

Not only can you restrict what you do on your phone, but also what your phone itself does. This is where the low-power or power-saving mode comes into play.

Among other things, low power mode on an iPhone disables 5G (if applicable), speeds up your device lock, dims your screen, and disables some background processes. These tweaks are supposed to make your battery last longer, but since they prevent you from trying to handle many things once, they can also help prevent overheating.

Android phones have a similar feature and are usually referred to as battery saver or power saver depending on which company built your device. You can use this tool in the same way, although phone makers like Samsung tend to offer more options such as: B. Limiting your phone’s processing power to 70 percent.

If all else fails, turn it off

The only surefire way to keep your phone from overloading itself – and overheating in the process – is to turn it off and store it in the coolest place available to you.

What better way to keep your phone cool in hot weather? Inform the helpdesk.

Should I put my phone in the fridge?

Smartphones tend to cool down pretty quickly, and you’ll likely have a working phone back in minutes if you just leave it alone. But if your phone is overheating and you absolutely need to use it, can you cool it down with a quick trip to the kitchen?

Maybe, but it has some potential dangers.

“I wouldn’t recommend putting a device in a refrigerator to cool it,” says Hylle. “Rapid cooling in a humid environment could cause condensation and short out the device. Going from very hot to very cold in a short period of time also has its own risks.”

(There’s also a pretty good chance your phone won’t be able to pick up a cellular signal there, which can be counterproductive.)

I’ve also seen some people online mention running their phones under a stream of cool water from a faucet – after all, smartphone makers have boasted for years that at least some of their devices can survive falls under water. I don’t recommend that either, as these companies generally vouch for how a phone will hold up when sitting under a few feet of water, not whether it’ll withstand running water.

Here’s what I’d recommend: Grab something cold, like a portable ice pack, a bag of frozen peas, a Capri Sun from the fridge, whatever you have. Wrap it in a tea towel or tissue and put your phone on it for about a minute and then take it off again. Repeat this process until the phone is functional again. Don’t have any of the things? Put the phone on a cool countertop or something similar. With any luck, this more gradual type of cooling should get your phone up and running quickly and with less risk of condensation-related glitches.

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