Regarding iPhone 3GS, Overheating, and "the Weather"

The UK's Telegraph ran an article recently with a headline stating "Overheating iPhone 3GS: Apple blames the weather"... that could be a tad misleading. The Telegraph cites an Apple knowledge base article (opens in new tab), last updated June 25, 2009, that warns about leaving the iPhone 3GS in hot places or using it under hot conditions, and shows a screenshot of the iPhone's temperate warning screen,

The problem is, as longtime TiPb readers know, it's the same knowledge base article that's been up since the introduction of the iPhone 3G in 2008, the update merely adding in the newly launched iPhone 3GS.

So, while the iPhone 3GS may indeed have overheating problems -- though we're not experiencing any yet -- saying Apple blames the issue on heating is, as mentioned, a tad misleading.

In any event, we're more interested in whether or not our readers are experiencing iPhone 3GS overheating issues, and if so, what are you doing on the device when you experience them, and are you running a jailbroken device?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Blame it on the rain...
  • I don't buy the whole jailbreak - overheat issue theory for the simple fact that these overheating rumors started before the 3GS jailbreak software was released.
  • You forgot to mention the Oleophobic surface wiping off and allowing the device to get scratched. Apparently the device has some cooling issues that need to be addressed. It does run at a higher clockspeed and in places like Florida where it is 99 degrees in the day and 89 at night the likelihood of the 3gs overheating is quite high.
  • Have 3G and 3GS. No jailbreaking, similar temperatures experienced on both models (ie warm back after extended use). What I would describe as average usage with regular internet browsing, email, IM, music, occasional viewing of videos, occasional light gaming. No heavy duty processor activity which, I would guess, is the primary factor in the heat issue.
    For instance a Macworld reporter noted her 3GS was uncomfortably warm (no discolouration) after watching two hours video with the iPhone plugged into a wall outlet. If I watch two hours of video on my MacBook Pro with it plugged into a wall outlet I have no doubt it would be uncomfortably warm as well.
  • @ Rene Ritchie
    Next time if you plan on reporting a story already covered by another news outlet please report the entire story.
  • @Truth, based off of one little story regarding the screen - can you prove any other cases of that happening let alone prove that is actually the case for that one instance? Didn't think so... and if that coating did "wipe off" that doesn't mean you can scratch the screen any easier with the coating on... no where does Apple claim it will prevent scratches.
    As for the cooling issues, any device similar to this get hot under certain circumstances. Don't leave your phone in your car on a 100 degree day!
  • I'm jailbroken and multitasking away, no heating issues. :)
  • Oh and I hope my device does have an issue like the coating wiping off. That will give me a reason to send it to apple and get a brand new one! :)
  • running a jail broken device makes no difference in heat! ive had the iphone 3gs since the day it came out, before the jailbreak, and it started getting hot from day one, when i contacted apple they told me a buggy push feature was causing the mail to continually check for mail which uses allot of power causing the battery to heat up, after restoring and turning my push feature to manual like apple suggested my phone doesn't get hot anymore. don't blame the jailbreaking community, they find and fix more bugs then they cause. if i can call apple and get a strait answer from them im sure the writer of this article could to... this is just rumors, n dont bash jailbreaking!
  • WS at its best. What did Cramer say? Plant a story here and there and Booyah you manipulate a stock. Shameless though to those who blame MSFT for this. They will never stoop that low.
  • Ah! Where would the entertainment value of the forum be without Truth?
  • Though I do admit, was the coating really necessary? The traditional scratch-resistant glass was a design win for the first two iterations.
    When I pick up my 3GS I am going to need to maintain screen sheilds. Never needed it on this EDGE iPhone :-/
  • @Chris, I wouldn't worry about it honestly. This is a single report - and we don't know what really happened. Start to worry when flocks of people start having issues with it. Also the coating has nothing to do with preventing scratches, it's simply there to cut down on smudges - which it does indeed do.
  • My new 3GS was overheating on the first day that I got it. It was getting extremely hot and I was not even using it. Turns out the problem was that to get all of my settings and files, I had restored (via iTunes) my new 3GS with a previous backup (which was from iPhone OS 2.1). This was somehow causing a glitch in the OS and causing overheating. The solution, according to Apple was to do a "restore" in iTunes to 3.0, then DO NOT restore from a previous backup and enter all setting manually. This solved the overheating problem. I can't believe Apple is not mentioning this issue more in the press!!!
  • @neil that's not a hardware related issue. that has been a random issue since the original iPhone with a restore correcting it. And you are right when you say not to restore from a previous backup. Always start fresh.
  • All these issues point to why I am waiting for the wrinkles to be smoothed out. But still I am concerned about the decision to use a screen coating. And I am as greasy as they come, you'd think I would welcome it!
  • I live in Miami and have never had an overheating issue with my 3G or 3GS.
  • Never had an overheating problem
  • My 3G and 3GS both have similar temps after using them heavily for about 20 minutes. Nothing really worth reporting. I think this is a lot of hype about nothing.
  • I was out at a pool one day and left my 3g on a chair for about 10-15 minutes. I got the overheated message and was not able to use the phone until it cooled down (I held it in the shade Between a towel for about 3 minutes). I haven't noticed any physical changes due to the overheating.
  • I blame global warming
  • @Chad
    running a jail broken device makes no difference in heat!
    I think the potential exists for jailbroken phones to run backgrounded apps. Rene's question may have been focused on that.
    There being little reason to background an app unless it is using the radio, you would expect that one or two of these could keep the radio on and chew up more CPU cycles.
    A simple jailbreak shouldn't affect heating.
    It's what you can do after the break.
    Then there is the issue of the quality of some of the code in non Apple reviewed apps. I'm sure Apple would say it is inferior, but I SERIOUSLY DOUBT that.
  • Just got a new 3gs and I have noticed ghat the white one does get very warm. It's noticible. Goig to tough it out if not then exchanging it at apple
  • @Chad Lodge
    Where does anyone blame the jailbreaking community or jailbreaking in general, I read it as they are looking for more information as to why some people are having heating issues and why some aren't. Have to be able to replicate the issue if you want to find out what is wrong.
  • If any of you are having overheating issues or you have severe battery drain as well? If so restore from scratch like someone mentioned above. It will solve your issue.
  • I live in the south, where our average temp is around 100-110 with the heat index. I purchased the white 3GS for that very reason. I've spent the last three days at the pool for over two hours each day, and while the heat is noticeable on my iPhone, I've never had the warning screen nor a decrease in performance.
    As for the user who claimed his o-screen was wearing off, it seems as though it's a hoax. Look at the picture posted. It looks like a greasy screen with a smudge or two.
  • @Mike N: that's exactly my point. 99% of overheating is not related to hardware. It's that people don't know any better and think their phone is defective when a simple restore will fix the problem.
  • I've had a 3G since Aug 08, non-JB, and jog w/ my phone 3x a week in 100 degree weather.
    No issues until loaded OS 3.0 and then after jogging when it was hot or when it's been in my pocket in the heat would start getting an error message stating 'accessory not compatible would you like to turn airplane mode on ?'.
    Then the speaker will not work until I turn phone off then back on.
    Other times in similar hot conditions it says there is no Sim card. Fix that by turning off/on.
    This didn't happen last summer, and I've never had the 'too hot' error message.
  • are all these reported heating cases, only affectin the 16gb white models? or all models?
  • I only have a 2G iPhone right now, I was gonna upgrade to the new 3Gs, but I think I'm going to wait a bit and see just how true these reports of heating issues are.
  • I plug my 3g into my car stereo all the time. It charges while streaming music through the speakers. Often times I'll have a text or google maps up, or loading a page in safari hoping it'll be finished downloading over f@&$ing edge by the time I get stopped by another f@&$ing red light. With the t-tops off in the hot & humid Tennessee sun beating down on my phone, it gets so hot I don't want to put it in my pocket. I feel a little bad about the mistreatment, but I've never seen this warning.
  • I have been using an iPhone 3G since August 08. Usually my iPhone gets hot when I'm downloading or watching HQ videos. The battery life seems to decrease when it gets hot. Not sure whether the new iPhone actually does have heat issues or not but I think I will avoid getting one for a while just to make sure.
  • I filmed 12 minutes in 100 degree weather and got the over heat warning. Filmed 60 minutes in A/C office and no problem.
    16g iphone 3gs - no jailbreak
  • Just today I received a temp warning and had to wait for the phone to cool down before it was usable. Its only 85 degrees out and sunny. I was using it to occasionally text but nothing too heavy, no streaming, no music playing, no video. I received a call and half way into the conversation it shut down and the warning came up.
  • I've got a 3G and it only used to get hot if I was gaming or using apps for an extended period. Since 3.0 I've noticed it getting quite hot on both the back and the screen. This seems to happen more quickly than before and although the weather's been a bit warmer, I don't think it's entirely down to that. I haven't had a temp warning yet as I either put it in sleep mode or turn it off for a while to cool down.
  • no jailbreaking.....I have had my iphone 3g since feb 2009. Today it showed the above screen for the first time ever...and the phone wasn't even hot! It hasn't been working properly won't charge etc.... any suggestions?
  • does the apps still continue running even when you exit to home screen and put the phone on sleep mode? i have iphone 3G jailbroken and i thought that was the reason why i just found it overheating with the battery super drained - i can't open it.
    After i charged it last night, i woke up before dawn because it was burning and i can feel the heat through my pillow.. i was able to turn it off and then charge it in the morning but after just a few hours (approx 3), its temperature just a bit higher than normal (but not burning), and without even playing any app or making a call, the battery is already half.
    And this unit is barely even a month old!
  • Mine overheated only when I left it face up, on a concrete patio table, in direct sunlight, in Texas, in May. It took about 10 minutes worth of 70 degree shade to cool down enough to function. Neat safety feature I thought.
  • Wow,I admire Miami Heat! They are the best team in basketball! We will never see another power houseteam like this again! Go James!
  • I have been getting the overheated needs to cool down logo 4 times in the last month..Not jailbroken,and its only happens while I have been talking 20-25 minutes at a time..Just happens..