iPhone overheating controversy: some blame Instagram, others ­– design

The saga of the iPhone 15 having an overheating problem took a left turn as popular YouTube reviewers confirmed that they’ve experienced similar problems, accompanied by higher battery drain.

Youtuber and tech reviewer Marques Brownlee in his iPhone 15 Pro review also expressed concern about the battery life, as he noticed that his iPhone never had an “amazing day with 9 hours of screen time,” just a mix of average and bad days. He also experienced both overheating and battery drain, causing the delay in his review.

However, he also noticed that the overheating issue is “weird” and happens “not when I would expect.” His review has already been viewed 2.6 million times.

“Two days ago, literally, I was just at a golf tournament in Florida it was like 100 degrees (about 38 degrees C) or something crazy like that. And I'm outside with my phone at max brightness, with GPS going all day out in the sun, and it was fine, no problem, no overheating issues. But then, a couple of hours later, I’m on the airplane with my phone in Airplane mode, and I’ve got just like music playing with like music playing on Bluetooth with Spotify and like scrolling through Instagram, and for like five minutes, the phone just gets really hot and just blasts through like 5% battery,” Brownlee described his experience.

He attributed the issue to a more powerful chip together with iOS 17.0.2 bugs and would expect some more updates in the future, both to iOS and apps. Despite having a slightly bigger battery and a new 3 nm chip that should be more energy efficient, Brownlee doesn’t expect new devices to have a better battery life than previous models.

It seems the new iPhone has troubles with the Instagram app, as other YouTubers also began to point out the issue.

“Once you start Instagram, it overheats the logic board very fast,” iPhonedo claimed in his review. His solution – to enable low-power mode to turn off background refresh.

However, others failed to replicate the Instagram-induced overheating on camera. One user on X demonstrated that his iPhone 15 Pro Max did not heat up while using Instagram, the maximum temperature was 37.2 C (99° F).

Claims about iPhones reaching temperatures as high as 48 degrees Celsius (118 F) have been spreading for a while now.

Complaints of iPhones being “too hot to hold” are filling Apple’s community pages.

“I just got the iPhone 15 Pro today, and it’s so hot I can’t even hold it for very long! Hope they resolve this,” one of many users posted recently.

The problem may lie in Apple’s hardware choices

There may also be some design issues that will require Apple to respond. Korean Youtuber BullsLab, while impressed with the iPhone’s speed, demonstrated with a thermal imaging camera that iPhone Plus and Pro Max models, while recording 4K 60 FPS video for an hour, reached 46,2 degrees Celsius (115 F) on the back. Some reviewers notice that the Pro versions, which include a titanium frame, suffer from overheating more.

Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple analyst, argued in his Medium post that the primary cause for overheating is “the compromises made in the thermal system design to achieve a lighter weight, such as the reduced heat dissipation area and the use of a titanium frame, which negatively impacts thermal efficiency.”

He expects that Apple will address the problem with software updates. However, the only meaningful improvement would be to lower processor performance and thermal output by throttling down the all-mighty A17 Pro chip. The chip itself is not a problem, according to Kuo.

There are also some speculations about whether the eSIM has something to do with overheating, as overseas models with physical SIMs seem to be overheating more than the US models, according to Steve Moser, editor at TheTapeDrive and contributing writer at MacRumors.

“Perhaps Apple managed to optimize cooling in the redesigned motherboard for the US iPhone 15, but couldn't achieve the same for international versions because they needed space for the physical SIM card slot,” he opined.

The setback with its newest line of smartphones is embarrassing for Apple. However, it’s yet to be seen how the tech giant will respond.

Bloomberg’s Chief Correspondent Mark Gurman has reported that Apple’s technical support staff referred customers back to an old support article, however, it does not contain any updated advice.

The support page states that a device might get warmer when it’s set up for the first time, restored from a backup, doing a wireless charge, using graphics-intensive or processor-intensive apps, games, or features, including augmented-reality apps, and streaming high-quality videos.

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