5 ways to keep your iPhone or Android phone cool in extreme heat

Even the best phones suffer in extreme heat. Here's how to keep your smartphone cool when the world's on fire

iPhone 13 Pro in hand outdoors
(Image credit: Future)

It's hot. Too hot for the UK, which does not have the infrastucture to deal with this type of extreme heat. And if you're feeling the heat, so is your phone, be that if it is one of the best iPhones or best Android phones

Phones aren't designed for temperatures in the high nineties and beyond – for example the operating temperature for an iPhone 13 is no more than 95ºF (35ºC) – and once you go beyond the recommended range bad things start to happen. Your phone will overheat and most likely shut down, and if it gets really hot it could create a short-circuit in the battery. You really don't want that to happen.

Whether you have one of the most expensive and best phones or one of the best cheap phones, here's how to beat the heat and keep your handset safe and running efficiently.

1. Keep it out of the direct sun

The temperatures you see in your weather app are air temperatures; actual objects sitting in the sun, or in places blasted by the sun such as inside parked cars, conservatories or greenhouses, can get much, much hotter. I once lost a boom box to temperatures much less than we're experiencing today: it was in an all-glass room and the plastic case melted.

So the first and most important step is to keep your phone out of the sun. How you do that depends on where you are, so for example if you're on the beach then you should put the phone inside your bag where the sun don't shine; if you're in the city then again a bag is a good idea. Which leads us to step 2.

2. Don't put you phone in your back pocket

Yes, it's convenient. But a phone pressed tightly against your buttock is a phone that isn't having air circulating around it, so if a bag isn't an option then use a different pocket, such as the breast pocket in a loose-fitting shirt. Take it out of its case too: that helps cool it down.

If you've got a bag, put your phone in your bag, which is shady. It will take you a little longer to get it back out, like 5 seconds more, but it will help keep the handset running more efficiently.

3. Don't work you mobile too hard

The harder you drive your phone, the hotter it gets – and while the cooling systems in phones are designed to cope with that, they're only designed to do so in their normal operating temperature range. Checking the weather forecast or messaging your pals is fine, but maybe leave hours of 3D gaming or video rendering until you're somewhere much cooler.

If you absolutely have to hammer your phone in the heat, it's a good idea to buy a phone cooler.

4. Turn brightness down and unnecessary features off

If your device has adaptive brightness it may increase the brightness to make the screen easier to read – but by doing that it's making your phone work harder and hotter. Turn adaptive brightness off and manually choose a lower brightness setting.

It's wise to turn off anything you don't need, so for example putting your phone into airplane mode or disabling any game-phone acceleration will reduce the load on your phone's battery.

5. Whatever you do, don't try to force-cool it

If your phone is too hot, the worst thing you can do is put it in the fridge or freezer: that can cause condensation inside your phone, which you really don't want. And we wouldn't recommend dunking it in water either, even if it's water resistant. Let your phone cool naturally somewhere shady instead, ideally within range of a cooling fan.

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written thirteen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote another seven books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com (opens in new tab)).