June 24, 2016
John Vomhof Jr.Staff Writer
Too much sun or heat can be bad for your body, and bad for your tech, too. So, while you’re taking steps to stay cool this summer, make sure to do the same for your smartphone, tablet and other electronic devices.
High temps can permanently damage your phone’s internal components, causing the miniature circuit board to flex and warp and the battery to overheat. Direct sunlight can also hurt the screen, causing it to pixelate, crack and become unresponsive to touch.
We asked Geek Squad Agent Kate Burroughs in Louisville, Kentucky, for tips on how to protect your tech this summer.
Beat the heat
While you’re cranking up the air conditioning and slathering on sunscreen, it’s also important to take steps to protect your phone. If you’re not careful, the sun can fry it just like it fries your skin.
“If you’re too hot, it’s likely your phone is too hot, too,” Kate said.
For starters, always keep your phone and other electronic devices out of direct sunlight and never, ever leave them in a hot car. Keep your phone in your purse or beach bag in the shade, not lying next to you on your beach towel. (A phone can even overheat in your pocket, where it’s exposed to your body heat and gets no air flow.)
Ditch the case
On a sweltering summer day, you’re wearing a tank top and shorts, not a hoodie. So it’s a good idea for your cellphone to shed its layers, too.
While great for protection, a case can suffocate your phone, preventing the heat from escaping, Kate said.
“If you’re going to the pool or beach, you might want to get a waterproof case to protect your phone from sand and water,” she said. “But having a case on the phone can also help it overheat.”
So, if you notice that your phone is starting to get too hot, take off the case for a while. Just make sure that you then put the device someplace where it won’t get splashed.
Give it a rest
Overuse is one of the leading causes of cellphones overheating. Playing games, takings photos or watching videos make the lithium ion battery work harder, which produces more energy and generates more heat. When temperatures rise, it only makes matters worse because it adds external heat to the internal heat already created by the battery.
So try to take it easy on your phone when you’re having fun in the sun. Shut down any apps you don’t need and limit your use of high-intensity programs such as the camera or games. Also, turn down your screen brightness and switch to airplane mode to conserve power and keep the battery running cooler.
“If you’re not careful, your phone’s temperature sensor can quickly report that it is too hot and shut the device down,” Kate said. “In some rare cases, the battery might be physically damaged, or even explode, if it’s too hot.”
Cool it down — slowly
So, what do you do when your phone does overheat?
“Turn off the phone, remove the battery, if possible, and remove the case,” Kate said. “Place it in a cooler place out of direct sunlight, or get it into some air conditioning and let it cool down slowly.”
Note that she said slowly. Cooling your device down too quickly can cause condensation to get trapped inside of the device, causing further damage.
Remember, Geek Squad is here to help if you need advice on protecting your tech.