Is that a hot iPhone 15 in your pocket, or… ?

Every year a new scare story appears soon after Apple introduces new iPhone models. It’s a regular occurrence, and the stories almost always disappear once the initial furor dies down.

This year’s scare story is no different — it’s not even new — though enterprise IT may want to add some third-party applications to its ban list for managed devices in response.

iPhone feels the heat?

The iPhone 15, we’re told, has a problem with heat. Literally tens of people who claimed to have purchased one of the new devices raced to share overheating issues they claimed were driving the phone’s temperature sky high.

These claims were enthusiastically shared across dozens of social media posts until they acquired enough kinetic energy to ignite headlines across tech and mainstream media. Apple’s stock even took a fall.

The regular rogue’s gallery of Apple-focused analysts chimed in with what they knew, until the wisdom of crowds gave us legends as facts — such as the implication that the titanium frame in these iPhones is to blame.

Of course, since then we’ve learned that the frame is not to blame, but the speculation generated a few more headlines. The cavalcade of complaint generated a life of its own.

Apple lowers the temperature

Now Apple has responded to the criticisms with this statement:

We have identified a few conditions which can cause iPhone to run warmer than expected. The device may feel warmer during the first few days after setting up or restoring the device because of increased background activity. We have also found a bug in iOS 17 that is impacting some users and will be addressed in a software update.

Another issue involves some recent updates to third-party apps that are causing them to overload the system. We’re working with these app developers on fixes that are in the process of rolling out.

What does this mean? Yes, the iPhone does sometimes run warmer than you expect it to, but there’s usually one of three reasons for it to do so:

  • The first reason relates to how the operating system usually works when setting up or restoring the device as background activity (usually involving reindexing of Spotlight files) takes place. This is usually temporary.
  • A software bug has been identified, which Apple will rectify.
  • Some third-party apps need adjustment. Since the problem emerged, Meta-owned Instagram has issued an update to stop its iOS app from burning through iPhone battery life and overheating the device.

What’s interesting about the last problem is it sounds so familiar.

Just a bit of history repeating

I’ve always noticed that Facebook consumes what I see as large amounts of iPhone battery power — at one point it was the least energy-efficient app I used. I delete it when I want to get extra battery life out of my devices.

I can’t help but wonder if the many social media posts relating to iPhone 15 overheating would have been reduced in intensity if people had checked the energy consumption of their apps first.

Apple has a tool any iPhone owner can use to find out which of their apps are crunching energy. You can use it yourself in Settings > Battery, where you can scroll down to see how much energy each app is using.

It still surprises me how much energy Facebook consumes in comparison to other apps. Given the regularity with which Meta’s apps seem to do this, perhaps IT should forbid use of them on managed devices?

What happens next?

If you’re worried about your iPhone 15 overheating, the first lesson seems to be to check the battery usage statistics on your device and temporarily delete those apps that are using more battery power than you like.

In the medium term, Apple is building a fix to alleviate the problem, which will be released in due course. You can then consider reinstalling the energy vampire applications you temporarily removed. 

If you do, please make sure to install the latest version of those apps — or use a browser to access those services instead, which usually demands less energy.

Speculation corner

While I think it is unlikely, given the overwhelmingly positive critical response to Apple’s new smartphone, some potential iPhone 15 purchasers may have deferred purchase following this year’s crop of iPhone scare stories. In the circumstances, this appears to be an overreaction. History is simply repeating itself, with Meta apps placing an undue burden on the devices. One can only speculate as to why.

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Copyright © 2023 IDG Communications, Inc.


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