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Apple Admits iPhone 3GS Overheats

Gordon Kelly by

Apple Admits iPhone 3GS Overheats

What would it take to make an iPhone 3GS overheat? Apparently just the current English summer...

After a number of reports about heat problems with Apple's newest (and most expensive) handset the company has come clean about its worrying frailty to hot and cold climates and bundled the 3G along for the ride. It explained:

"Operate iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in a place where the temperature is between 0º and 35º C (32º to 95º F). Low- or high-temperature conditions might temporarily shorten battery life or cause the device to temporarily stop working properly. Store iPhone 3G and iPhone 3GS in a place where the temperature is between -20º and 45º C (-4º to 113º F). Don't leave the device in your car, because temperatures in parked cars can exceed this range."

Side effects suffered by the handsets if they exceed these acceptable temperatures:

  • The device stops charging

  • Display dims

  • Weak cellular signal

  • Temperature warning screen appears with the message "iPhone needs to cool down before you can use it"
Apple stresses that both the iPhone 3G and 3GS comply with safety standards around the global having passed UL 60950-1 in the US, CSA 60950-01 in Canada, EN60950-1 in Europe and AS/NZS 60950:1 in Australia and New Zealand. This is all well and dandy but by comparison Nokia tests its handsets to withstand temperatures of between -40 and 185º F (-40º C and 85º C). Quite what iPhone owners in Nordic and South American countries therefore make of this probably doesn't bear repeating.

Interestingly, all the iPhone overheating reports we've heard to date have centred on the 3GS with the 3G seemingly immune. Has Apple tried to cleverly tie in the 3G so its track record puts peoples' minds at ease? Couldn't possibly comment...


Apple Temperature Announcement

Go to comments


July 3, 2009, 2:29 pm


Apparently this support document always existed, it was just updated recently to mention the 3GS. I don't think it has anything to do with the recent media reports of iPhone's overheating to the extent that the back cases become discoloured.

A bit sensationalist, don't you think?


July 3, 2009, 2:42 pm

as long as you don't play games while charging, 3g is as cool as english winter.


July 3, 2009, 4:15 pm

I have had one of my friends show me that their iphone 3g had overheated as they had left it in the sun, displaying the "must cool down before you can use" screen. It isnt anything limited just to the 3gs.


July 3, 2009, 5:22 pm

0-35C is a pretty poor temperature tolerance range to be honest. Cell phones are often exposed to reasonably harsh treatment, and I would say it's not unreasonable to expect it to work on a cold winter's day or a hot summer's day. 35C is below body temperature, so it is pretty foreseeable that a phone could get close to that temperature just by being in close proximity to a human body (e.g. in a shirt pocket under a jacket, or similar).

Maybe Apple expects only cool media types to use the iPhone in plush air conditioned offices, so the limited range wouldn't be a problem for them? Or maybe Apple deliberately made it unworkable over 35C to give its acolytes a witty retort in the following scenario:

Apple-sceptic - "Stick your overpriced glory phone up your..."

Apple "Evangelist" - "I would, but it doesn't work above 35C".

Still can't help but want one though...


July 3, 2009, 6:24 pm

Still, it's an important issue. I'm having a nightmare trying to run turn-by-turn sat nav in the car for long periods for two reasons;

1) there ain't no charger capable of supplying the (up to 2A!!) draw that the iphone 3G sucks down. So even when it's plugged in - it's in effect useless over long trips as it will run out of battery whatever you do.

2) Even on a cool day when under heavy use whilst charging, it gets way hotter on the back that any nokia I have ever owned. Someone suggested placing the phone in a holder on the air vent so the air conditioning (if you have it and want to take the MPG hit from using it) to cool the back down.

Nice! With a price tag of up to £900 I expect a lot more from Apple. Apple really need to start stepping up their standards - just scraping through various global safety standards isn't good enough, the unit needs to perform well in all but the most extreme environments as Nokia's do.

Inspite the obvious limitations of the handset and having been a 20 year Nokia fan, I am now a complete convert to the iPhone - especially now it's jailbroken and I can run background apps like internet radio and Skype / Nimbuzz whilst doing other stuff. Genius gadget! :)


July 4, 2009, 9:34 pm

They will probably make a revise with air vents...

Drill some holes in the back of your iPhone and everything should be fine. lol


July 5, 2009, 2:06 am

Wow, another premium Apple product with fundamental flaw you wouldn't find on a budget model from another manufacturer. Can anyone tell me a single product from Apple in recent years that hasn't been released with a major fault, starting with the iPod nanos scratching/tilted screens.


July 5, 2009, 3:46 pm

If they made their products perfect you might not buy the following generation! Now that is no way to make money.

And this goes for the whole tech industry. When was the last time you bought some electronics that lasted for more then ten years?

I read an article about the financial problems in B&O and one of the causes were cited to be that their products were too longevous. People will rather buy their B&O equipment second hand since it can live for so long anyway.


July 6, 2009, 4:37 am

@ Jesper -

"When was the last time you bought some electronics that lasted for more then ten years?"

You're kidding, right? I'm assuming your pretty young, because most electronic goods used to be built to last and were easily serviceable with a screwdriver a soldering iron and some common sense!

I'm still using a JVC amplifier from 1968 - solid aluminium and a beautiful sound - a set of 4 quadrophonic Marantz speakers - which look and sound great as do the quadrophonic headphones and a turntable from the 70's - yep, vinyl. And you know what? It makes all this cr@ppy (yet convenient) ipod speaker dock nonsense look and sound like the mass consumable junk it is.

It's only in the last 15 years that electronics has generally turned into predominately plastic tat that lasts months before it's obsolete or broken beyond economical repair - or both. Crying shame. Deliberate ploy to generate more revenue for the big companies whilst putting small businesses like Mr.Jones's repair shop out of business. That and putting big scary stickers on the back of products that actively discourage people from attempting to fix their own products for fear of invalidating the (probably useless anyway) warranty.

More recently though, I have several CD players from 15 years ago, walkmans (cassette!), VCR's, TV's, radios, cameras, tools etc... that all work as well as the day I got them. Ok, so an electric drill bought 20 years ago was relatively more expensive than todays drills, but todays plastic drills last about a year before packing up. I'm still using a Black & Decker drill my old man gave me from the 80's! Also I bought a TomTom classic some 6 years ago - use it all the time and I see no reason for this to pack up any time soon.

It's funny, now they've actually managed to turn longevity and quality of build into an unexpected and heavily charged for premium - as they have in every market sector from the Automotive to the electronics to home furnishing! Ridiculous.

Jeese...I sounding more like an old g!t everyday!


July 7, 2009, 10:29 am


Yes up to £900

I certainly didn't pay that for mine.

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