What causes the iPad to overheat and what to do about it?

What causes the iPad to overheat and what to do about it?


If you have found this article, chances are you have had your iPad overheat and possibly freeze up (gone all black) with the warning icon that says "iPad needs to cool down before you can use it". Or maybe it was the less severe message - "Charging will resume when iPad returns to normal temperature".

Apple's support page tells us that we should use the iPad where the ambient temperature is between 0 - 35°C and "Low- or high-temperature conditions may cause your device to change its behaviour to regulate its temperature."

What causes that?

The same Apple support page states that your iPad could get warmer when you:

  • set up your iPad for the first time or restoring from a backup (i.e. lots of downloading and processing happening at the same time)
  • wirelessly charging your iPad
  • running apps that requires heavy processing (graphics intense apps, streaming high-quality videos or GPS navigation)

We would add:

Any of the activities below will also cause the iPad to warm up and a combination of any 2 or more (of all the listed activities) will likely lead to the "temperature warning" icon that prevents us from using the iPad till it cools down:  

  • charging the iPad (using a cable) while using the iPad to watch videos or running navigation apps.
  • using the iPad in the sun - the direct sunlight will heat up the iPad.
  • using the iPad in an environment close to 30°C
  • using the iPad in a thick case that retains heat

Essentially the iPad will get too hot when -

  1. when the processor works really hard
  2. when there is an external 'heat source'
  3. when the iPad isn't allowed to cool properly.

What happens when the iPad gets too hot?

Here's what we know >>

  • The screen dims
  • Charging will slow down or even paused 
  • Camera flash will be disabled
  • The overall performance of the iPad will slow down and even cellular signal will weaken (because the cellular module goes into a low power state). 

Ultimately, as we all know, when the temperature of the iPad goes past a threshold (~ close to 50°C), it stops functioning.

In the long run, letting the iPad get too hot and too often, affects (shortens) the battery life and overall performance of the iPad.

So what can we do?

I believe we all kinda know it but here are our options:

1. We could stop using the iPad.

But if you are reliant on it for work or navigation, then this option is out. Although you could try to close some background apps or turn off background app refresh. That should reduce any excessive processing on the iPad.  

2. Keep it away from a heat source (e.g. direct sunlight)

But if you can't avoid the sun where you are then its not really feasible. The next best thing might be to use a sunshade to shield the iPad from the sun.

3. Stop charging the iPad.

Charging the iPad generates some heat. So if there is enough power on the iPad, you should unplug the charging and let it cool for a bit. It is also worth checking that your charging source (or charging adapter) is good. You can download an app like Amperes to check the charging speed which shows if your charger and cable are optimal.

4. Remove what is restricting airflow 

Some iPad cases could retain heat and should be avoided if that is a concern. But at the same time, the choice of an iPad case is really subjective and is a balance of personal preference and what suits your application. Also avoid leaving the iPad in a bag or sleeve because there is no air circulation in there. 

5. Introduce an active cooling (like fans or thermoelectric cooling or even ice blocks)

Lastly, we come to active cooling products. In situations where you need to keep using your iPad, while in the sun (or in warmer conditions) and running navigation apps or apps that require intense processing, an active cooling solution might be what you need.

Besides our cooling cases, there are a number of products out there that will do the job. In case you haven't, you should go check out our comparison of the different cooling solutions in the market here - link


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