How to protect your smartphone from heatstroke

Smartphones, laptops and other plastic accessories don’t like heat. During episodes of extreme heat, such as those we experience in mid-June 2021, keep in mind a few things to do to maintain the good health of your electrical devices.

That’s it, it’s hot. With these temperatures, we will never fail to remember that it is necessary to hydrate. And if knowing what’s going on in your body when you’re too hot gives you a cold sweat, wait until you know what’s going on with your little everyday tech devices. The week of June 15, 2021 sweeps over France in a heat wave that will make the fans of your devices roar.

Because it is a catchphrase known since the computer science: the components that drive our devices do not like heat. We remember the graphics card epidemics that died during the summers of the 2000s, we now know smartphones that overheat and SD cards that melt.

The important thing to remember is that the more enclosed and powerful the components, the more complex the heat dissipation they emit. This is why a “gamer” laptop will blow to the limit of the acceptable to push the heat outside, when an equivalent configuration in a beautiful well cooled tower will be perfectly silent. This is why Nvidia invents concepts and reference formats, for example.

So, how does a Mac Pro cool down? // Source: Julien Cadot for Numerama

The smartphone, in all of this, is a gem of miniaturization and heat dissipation. That said, it pushes what we knew with laptops to the extreme: fragile components, increasingly powerful, very close to the battery and which are compactly arranged in a shell. In short, it is well thought out for all climates, but it can be damaged during extreme waves, cold or hot. These little tips will allow you to protect your equipment this summer.

Smartphone traps in the car

A smartphone used for GPS navigation will heat up, sometimes a lot. If your trip is long and it is stuck to the windshield, it will also possibly be directly exposed to the sun. Your smartphone hated that.

It’s always better to put your smartphone in the glove box, using CarPlay or Android Auto if possible, or hang it on one of the vents rather than directly on the windshield. Likewise, if you are a passenger, do not abandon it during the journey on the front of the vehicle. A reader tells us in the comments that it is possible to use the GPS screen off, to hear the directions which will continue to function – that’s smart.

If you find it hot, quickly put it in the shade and remove its shell.

If you find it hot, quickly put it in the shade and remove its protective shell to give it some air. A USB fan can do the trick to cool it down and act like the stands on offer for laptops.

Note that most smartphones will prefer to shut down rather than risk overheating which will damage the device.

Do not use 10 heavy applications in a row

You have noticed it: when you do certain actions, your smartphone heats up more than it should. Filming, using GPS, making calls or playing video games all use components which, when fully charged, emit heat. If the outside temperature exceeds 35 degrees, it is not recommended to do too long sessions on heat-generating activities.

You will of course be able to use social networks and send messages as you wish: although they are not foolproof, the components of our computers and smartphones can withstand very high temperatures. 90 degrees under load is the temperature of our MacBook Pro to write these lines – and it’s far from agony.

iPhone XR // Source: Ulrich Rozier for Numerama

Don’t put your smartphone in the fridge!

Also, avoid giving in to the temptation to put your smartphone in the freezer to cool it down, even when protected: thermal shock is not recommended, not to mention condensation which could damage the circuits …

Charge your phone in the shade

You have noticed that your smartphone heats up more when it is charging. This is perfectly normal. That said, if it’s hot, avoid adding heat to the heat by putting your smartphone or game console in an exposed location. Prefer covered desk corners. Likewise, don’t put it under a pillow at night.

All these recommendations are valid for a Switch.

Can the sun burn a smartphone’s photo sensor?

This question depends on several parameters, including the size of the sensor and the duration of the exposure. During the last solar eclipse, Americans had the opportunity to experiment and put the technology to the test: empirically, it seems that there is no problem taking a photo of the sun with your smartphone . NASA confirmed and Apple assured it would not harm an iPhone.

That said, don’t take the risk of pointing your smartphone at the sun for too long. The warning also applies to cameras without suitable filters. If the sensor does not burn itself, other components, plastic or metal, can heat, melt, expand, etc. In short, it’s not a fragile component, but neither is it foolproof.

Article originally published on July 26, 2018 and updated on June 15, 2021

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