How to Keep Your Phone or Laptop Cool

Prevent your laptop or phone from overheating

Heat is one of the worst enemies of all gadgets, including laptops and smartphones. Batteries age more quickly when they're hot for a long period of time, and overheating can destroy other hardware parts—causing system freezing or worse. 

Check the Temperature

Although it's perfectly normal for computers and smartphones to get warm thanks to the battery heating up, there is, of course, an upper limit to how hot these devices can get before they start overheating.

The general guideline for laptops is to keep it running below 122°F (50°C), with more leeway for newer processors. If your laptop feels like it's running too hot and has started showing performance problems, use a free temperature monitoring tool to see if your laptop is in danger of overheating. You'll know if your laptop is overheating if you see the telltale signs.

Some smartphones offer built-in temperature sensors that can tell you if the phone or battery is getting too hot, and many smartphones will automatically shut down if the phone gets too hot.

Apple recommends an ideal temperature zone of 62° to 72°F (16° to 22°C) for iPhones to work well and describes ambient temperatures higher than 95°F (35°C) as damaging temperatures that could permanently ruin the battery capacity.

MacBooks work best if the temperature remains between 50° and 95°F (10° to 35°C).

For storing your iPhone or MacBook, you can keep it in temperatures between -4° and 113°F (-20° to 45°C).

Keep Your Laptop or Smartphone out of Direct Sunlight and Hot Cars

Be careful where you leave your gadgets. Anyone who has been in a closed up car on a hot day can tell you that it gets really, really hot, and our skin isn't the only thing that hates hot weather. 

If you leave your phone or computer in direct sunlight or baking in a hot car, even touching it can burn your hand. It gets worse if it's playing music, taking a call, or charging, since the battery is already working up a sweat.

Turn your device off in those high-heat areas and try to only use them in the cooler shade. One option is to cover it with a shirt or sit with it under a tree. If you're in a car, try pointing the air conditioning vent in its general direction.

Wait to Use Your Hot Laptop or Smartphone

When moving from a hot area to a more temperate one, wait until your laptop or smartphone has cooled off a bit before turning it back on. Ideally, wait until the device resumes its normal thermal operating range.

Turn Off the Most Battery-Intensive Applications

Turn off the most battery-hungry apps and features. Not only do features like GPS and 4G/5G or the highest screen brightness tax your laptop or smartphone battery life, but they also make your battery run hotter.

Similarly, use your device on its battery-saving (e.g., "power saver") setting to automatically use less battery and reduce battery heat.

Some devices have what's called an Airplane Mode that can instantly quit broadcasting on all radios, which means it will disable Wi-Fi, GPS, and your cellular connection. While this mode prevents phone calls and internet access, battery usage declines sharply and gives the device time to cool down.

Use a Cooling Stand

A laptop cooling stand is a great investment. These stands not only draw heat away from your laptop but they also position your laptop ergonomically.

Pop your laptop into a cooling stand if it's getting too hot. It's really not a big deal if you're already using your laptop on a desk because the cooling stand will barely change how it's positioned.

Shut Down Your Laptop or Smartphone When Not in Use

When it's really hot, perhaps the best thing you can do is turn off your device, reserving the power for when you actually need to use it.

Some devices turn off automatically when they get too hot, so shutting down all of the power to every component is one of the quickest ways to cool down the phone or laptop.

After 15 minutes of being in a cooler space, you can safely turn it back on and use it normally if it's mostly adjusted and is within its recommended thermal operating limits.

Unlike humans who benefit from rapid cooling when they run a high fever, tossing your overheated device into the freezer isn't going to help. In fact, the rapid stress on internal joins may well sever delicate wires within the device, damaging or destroying it.