During the dog days of summer we're constantly warned about leaving children and pets in hot cars and staying hydrated when spending time outdoors.
We don't think that much about the effect heat can have on inanimate objects that are near and dear to us, like our smartphones, but maybe we should. It turns out heat is the enemy of most sophisticated and sensitive electronic devices.
Think about the amount of heat the average desktop computer generates. That's why PCs are equipped with fans – to remove the heat before it can damage sensitive electronic components.
Heat on a cool day
Your smartphone has no fan but is equipped with some of the very same types of components, such as an amplifier and microprocessor. So a phone is already producing heat, even on a cool day. When heat from the environment is added, the systems that power the phone have to work harder and become less efficient.
As LifeHacker.com points out, cell phones generate the most heat when they are given complex tasks, such as streaming a video, making a call, or plotting your course using GPS. If it is having to perform these tasks when the ambient temperature is in the upper 90s, it has to work even harder, which generates even more heat.
The result of that can be something annoying, like running down the battery faster than normal, or something more serious, like damaging sensitive internal components. And it isn't just the electronics that are at risk.
Heat can crack screens
Writing in The Guardian, Samuel Gibbs notes that heat is often responsible for cracks in smartphone screens.
“The fine liquid layers of a screen can swell under high heat, which means pixels can blow and glass can crack – leaving a phone within a hot glovebox on a sunny day is asking for trouble,” he writes.
There are a few things you can do to help your phone stay cool and not work up a sweat. When working outside on a hot day, leave your phone inside an air conditioned space. If that isn't possible, turn off the phone when you are out in the heat for long periods of time so it isn't adding to the temperature.
If powering down your phone isn't an option, consider dowloading one of several apps that monitor the device's temperature and control functions to keep heat build-up to a minimum.
Cooler Master, for Android phones, is a free app that detects and closes heavy resource consuming apps to reduce CPU usage and cool down your phone. It features real-time temperature monitoring and cools down your phone with a single tap. It closes apps that are likely to cause overheating, and prevents the phone temperature from rising.
So by all means, protect your pets and children from the heat on hot summer days. Just don't forget to do the same for your phone.