Apple may not be ready to confirm that the iPhone 3GS has an overheating issue, but they have posted advice on keeping the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 3G within acceptable operating temperatures. This advice includes not leaving the iPhone in the car or exposing it to direct sunlight for extended periods of time.
The advice also notes that certain applications should be avoided when in a car on a sunny day or when the iPhone is exposed to direct sunlight. These applications includes GPS and listening to music, which may effect anyone who want to go sunbathing or who is driving around in Texas.
Obviously, air conditioning is going to help offset any issues you have with the iPhone in the car, but if your air conditioner is out and it an especially hot day, be aware that this can effect the phone and avoid using it if possible. For sunbathers, putting the phone under a towel or somewhere with shade will help.
If your iPhone does begin to overheat, the device will take steps to offset it which includes dimming the display and a weak cellular signal. If it gets too hot, a screen will pop up telling you the iPhone must cool down before it can be used, though emergency calls can still be placed.
Considering the numerous problems the Xbox 360 has with overheating issues and a specific flaw that causes the “red ring of death”, it is easy to be concerned that the iPhone 3GS may have some similar flaw that could end in serious hardware failure or a massive recall. The good thing to note is that the iPhone does have protective features where it will shutdown if it gets too hot, so that should help keep it from having any serious hardware meltdown.
But that doesn’t solve the main issue, which is whether or not these are isolated events caused by very specific use of the iPhone 3GS, or if this is an issue with the phone itself.
The first reports of the overheating issue were pictures of the back cover becoming discolored after extended use. Melissa Perenson of PC World also noted that her iPhone 3GS became very hot to the touch when she was using it while it was plugged into the wall and charging.
Some have theorized that it is during the act of charging, and possibly charging a new phone that hasn’t been charged much, that causes the overheating issue. But then again, we all have newer phones at this point.
There is no official word yet from Apple on the overheating issue.