Whilst many of us Brits look forward to summertime – with its warmer weather and lighter evenings – it’s not quite such a happy time for our technology. Smartphones, in particular, are notorious for suffering during these hot spells; slowing down, overheating and draining phone batteries very quickly. So why does this happen?
Firstly, it’s worth noting that smartphones already generate heat of their own. Though they may have few moving parts in the traditional sense, there are actions taking place on a microscopic level that cause components to get very hot. For example, the simple act of charging a phone involves rapid chemical movement as electricity shoots into the battery at high speeds. It’s a similar story for actions taking place within the chip architecture – all of which generate heat.
Typically, this level of heat is imperceptible to the user, and any negative impact it has on the phone goes largely unnoticed. However, when the ambient temperature rises above average, it exacerbates the issue and changes start becoming apparent.
As we know, when devices get hot they slow down – but to think this is a fault of the phone is somewhat incorrect. Instead, much of this derives from processes set in place by the manufacturer to mitigate any potentially serious issues (such as components burning out or – worse – catching fire). Apple, for example, begins limiting the capabilities of its iPhones when the temperature inside gets too hot. It slows down processors and switches off charging in a display of rather sophisticated self-protection.
Though this functionality isn’t in-built to all Android devices, third-party apps are freely available to protect a phone by limiting its capabilities when conditions get too warm.
As for battery life, all the above processing takes up energy, meaning the phones are working harder and battery life is, unfortunately but unavoidably, what has to suffer. Not only that, hot conditions can permanently degrade battery life, so every time a smartphone gets warm, it could be losing valuable battery capacity. The more this happens, the more noticeable the effects become.
What can you do to protect yourself and your devices?
To help solve the issue of overheating, try not to use processor-intensive apps (such as video players, maps or sat-navs) in the hottest conditions. Additionally, take your phone out of its case where possible, as this allows heat to escape, rather than incubating it. Finally, dim the screen and close any background apps, so the phone isn’t doing more work than is absolutely necessary.