iPhones Heating Up: Anyone Playing “Hot Potato” With Their 3GS?


My 3GS has given me (relatively) little cause for complaint since I got it, though there was the one little replacement issue for what I thought were Wi-Fi problems. Turned out to be a persistent issue that hopefully will be resolved with a firmware update, but it’s more superficial than anything else. What I haven’t experienced, and what some people are reporting, are overheating issues with their handsets.

A few users are reporting serious heat build-ups in their phones, with temperatures high enough to even prevent putting the phone to one’s face, according to PC World reviewer, Melissa J. Perenson. The problem doesn’t appear to be widespread, which could be due to it being a hardware defect in only a select few phones, or it could even be due to usage patterns. Perenson was basically doing as much as possible to incur heat, by playing games and browsing on Wi-Fi while the device was plugged in.

The PC World report comes on the heels of photos posted at French blog Nowhere Else which claim to show significant discoloration on the rear surface of a white 16GB iPhone 3GS. Apple Support Discussions also exist with users claiming to have overheating issues. Over at QuickPWN, they’re pointing the finger at iPhone OS 3.0, not the 3GS hardware specifically. Just to be clear, no one is reporting actual hardware failure as a result of heat, just temperatures so high that they make using the phone uncomfortable or almost painful.

Even if usage is to blame, as most people’s experiences seem to suggest, that’s no excuse for the devices to overheat. Apple is pushing the gaming abilities of the 3GS, after all, so it has to expect device owners to be using the iPhone for gaming for extended periods of time. And Wi-Fi web browsing is hardly undue wear and tear.

Like I said, I’ve yet to experience any heat issues, and I use my 3GS with my recently purchased Mophie Juice Pack Air to really push the battery life to the max. It does get rather warm when I flick the charging switch, but the front surface remains plenty cool enough to hold against my face without discomfort. Admittedly, I’ve yet to do any marathon gaming sessions, which was pretty standard practice on my 3G, but I plan on doing some later today, so I’ll get a chance to see if that incurs any temperature spikes.

Some are already talking wide recalls, but I wouldn’t be so sure. Apple will definitely try to resolve any outstanding quirks the 3GS may have via a software update before resorting to a much more expensive product recall. And the percentage of users reporting this problem is still small, though vocal, but that could just be because most people don’t use their iPhone for prolonged, intensive tasks, or while charging.

Let us know if you’re having heat problems below, and what seems to be causing your issues.

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