August 14


Has your smartphone been running slower than usual or spontaneously turning itself off?  Has your device’s touch screen intermittently stopped responding or has the volume lowered so much you can’t hear an incoming call?  It may be suffering from what’s informally called tech heatstroke or heat freeze.

Heat freeze, according to Apple and Samsung user forums is happening more than usual courtesy of the extreme weather conditions we’ve been experiencing.  But it’s very possible you can fix your device for free as well as avoid problems in the future.

Smartphone cases can be one of the many causes of heat freeze.

Smartphone cases can be one of the many causes of heat freeze.

Primary causes of heat freeze include:

  • Leaving your phone in your pocket or purse on a hot day
  • Holding your phone with your hand for an extended period
  • Keeping your phone in your parked car or placing your phone on a dark or metal surface outside.

In less than 10 minutes your device’s internal temperature can exceed normal operating levels – way before the user alert is triggered on your device.

“As smartphones got thinner, manufacturers removed the fans that helped regulate internal temperature,” according to the Smartphone Blog. “Newer phones are designed with materials that emit excess heat.  If the interior temperature of a device exceeds the normal operating range, the device responds by protecting its components by attempting to self-regulate the temperature.  That may not be possible.”

Using certain apps on hot days can trigger heat freeze as well.  Apps that update constantly in the background like navigation, flashlight, Facebook, music and video-rich games are the most common culprits.

The easiest and most immediate fix is to turn the device off and remove it from its protective case, which can be inadvertently smothering it.

“If you keep your device in a protective case, especially thick rubber, you are creating an environment that doesn’t support your phone ‘breathing’ properly in these extreme heat conditions,” according to Apple’s user forum.  “Our tests found OtterBox brand cases are the worst offenders but anything that restricts air flow can create user issues.”

When your device is out of its case place it on a folded paper towel (anything on-hand that’s cool and supports freely circulating air; not a granite countertop or metal table for example), ideally in a lower temperature location.  In front of a fan is a great place if possible.  Do not charge the device while it’s cooling or put it in the refrigerator.  (Yep, the Samsung user forum actually says that.)

Also, try using your headphones or speakerphone on exceedingly hot days.