A phone overheating may have a physical problem—an old battery, for example, could be one potential cause of a dysfunction. Other users may be loading down their devices with either too much software or software that isn’t doing them any good.
Playing doctor when your phone is overheating sucks. Prevention is the best prescription, but if your smartphone’s already hot, you might be worried that a virus is affecting it. So why is your phone overheating? How can you cool it down? And how do you know if your phone’s got a virus?
Why Does It Matter if My Phone Is Too Hot?
When a phone gets too hot, its ability to function may be impaired. Most modern phones will notify you and even take precautionary action when they get too hot, but some older models may not.
This cause of the heat can be anywhere—the battery cell, the environment, or even from the processor itself as it runs. Thermal expansion is one potential source of damage, as is the risk of melting any of the device’s components.
When your phone is too hot, the battery will be depleted more quickly. The processor will run slowly and your apps are more likely to crash; some phone batteries have even been shown to explode under the right circumstances.
The bottom line is that, for the sake of your safety, we want to keep things cool.
Why Is My Phone Overheating?
Yes, overheating can be a sign of a virus. But it’s just as likely that something else is affecting your smartphone.
If you’re using your phone and you feel it overheating in your hands, the problem might be what you’re doing with it at the time. For instance:
- Your screen has been set too brightly for too long.
- You have too many apps in use at once.
- You’re using an app that is overtaxing the system.
- Your settings may not be optimized for your needs.
- The graphics of a game are too much for your device to manage.
- Your phone is struggling to stay connected to a weak Wi-Fi or Bluetooth signal.
- Your phone case is preventing the phone from ventilating itself adequately.
Even more distressing is when you find your phone overheating after not using it for some amount of time. Here’s why that can happen:
- One of your apps may be running in the background and consuming too many resources.
- Your charger or charging port may be damaged; it’s not recommended you charge your phone while playing games or streaming video.
- You may have malware or adware on your phone performing unauthorized tasks autonomously in the background.
Most alarming of all will likely be the last possibility. What do you do if you think the worst has happened?
Does My Phone Have a Virus?
There are plenty of ways to find out if your phone has a virus. If it doesn’t heat up often, you’re probably fine. If the problem is consistent and persistent, however, you may have company.
Check you have a back-up of your data on an external source. That should mean none of your information is lost, depending on how recent that back-up is; however, too recent a back-up might mean the malware is also backed up!
If you’re already in the midst of an emergency, here are a few first steps to take.
1. Safe Mode for Android
If your phone is an Android device, enable Safe Mode; this feature shuts all third-party apps down. To enter Safe Mode, press and hold the sidekey like you’re restarting your phone. Press and hold the on-screen Power Off option to find the Safe Mode prompt.
Your phone will boot down, and, upon awakening, you will find all third-party software on your phone disabled. This will usually make the phone usable enough to diagnose the issue, at the very least.
Restarting your phone again allows you to turn off Safe Mode when you no longer need it.
2. Take Inventory of Downloads and Clean Up Your Device
Have you downloaded anything unusual over the last couple of days or weeks? Steer clear of downloading anything that looks suspicious, even if certified “safe to use” by whatever app store you purchase from.
Go back through your app store history to the time when you first noticed your phone overheating. If your phone has a virus, it’s likely that you were the one to give it permissions, even accidentally.
If you find an app that could be the culprit, uninstall it from your device immediately.
3. Install Anti-Malware Tools
Every device needs to have software designed to protect it against malware. Scanning your phone for intruders regularly ensures that nothing slips through the cracks.
If you use a malware scanner, put it to work straight away if possible. Many smartphones come with some sort of virus scanner right out of the box. Samsung Galaxy phones, for example, come with the Samsung Smart Manager, complete with a device-scanning function that may point you in the right direction.
Most of the time, once you have exorcised your device of whatever is plaguing it, it will be perfectly fine to use after. Worst-case scenario? You need to do a hard factory reset, or, even more tragically, you can’t even get the phone to turn off or back on at all.
How to Cool Down an Overheating Phone
If you’re able to use the phone, you should shut it down as soon as you notice something amiss. Unplug it if it’s charging at the time, remove it from the protective case, and stick it in front of a fan or on top of a bag of frozen peas until it becomes cool enough to handle again (protected by a baggie or some saran wrap).
After it has had a chance to recover, restart it and bring the screen brightness down to its lowest setting. Take it easy until things have returned to normal.
Keep a close eye on its performance over the coming days, taking note of when you notice the excessive heat again.
How to Prevent a Phone from Overheating
Only download apps and other files from trustworthy sources that you are able to verify.
Caring for your device means knowing what it’s capable of when you use it daily; if your usage does not pass this threshold, you’re likely to extend the life of the phone significantly.
Here are a few of our staple best practices:
- Try to only use accessories made by authorized manufacturers and retailers.
- Avoid using your phone as an all-purpose entertainment device if you play a lot of games or stream a lot of high-quality video.
- Be wary of suspicious or unverified apps.
- Delete apps and files that you don’t use or need.
- Never click on pop-ups or banner ads; they will often be Trojans that aim to learn your personal details.
- Monitor the health of your device with the help of utility apps.
- Keep an eye out for spikes in data usage or other unusual indicators of activity on your account.
- Keep your phone out of direct sunlight and away from other sources of extreme heat.
Babysitting your smartphone doesn’t have to be a full-time job. When safety is on your mind, the choices that you make will naturally protect you from disaster.
It’ll Be a Long Summer
Until Jack Frost manages the temperature of smartphones everywhere, we are left to fend for ourselves. With a bit of precaution, you’ll find that an overheated phone is a fairly easy fate to avoid.
Your journey through the world of cybersecurity shouldn’t stop here, though. There are plenty of ways to keep your devices free of malware.
If your phone gets too hot it can reduce your battery life, damage the hardware, or worse. These three apps can help prevent it.
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