Apple iPhone 3GS Overheating Reports

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Is the Apple iPhone 3GS having overheating issues? I've seen some reports circulating on the Web today that indicate some handsets might indeed be affected. And I have my own tale to add to fray.

The story began at French site, with a piece that showcases a discolored white iPhone 3GS whose owner says the discolorations came from the device noticeably heating up during use of the GPS over 3G wireless. This tale and image has circulated today at other U.S. gadget sites, including Gizmodo and Engadget.

For me, I had noticed from day one that the iPhone 3GS appeared to have similar heat issues to iPhone 3G: The phone's back got warm during use. I thought it curious that handset still got warm in many of the same areas as with the 3G, in part because, Apple had specifically told me that the components inside were reconfigured as compared with the 3G model.

I didn't think too much of this heat thing -- I recall the lower inch of the T-Mobile G1 getting toasty, too, when I had tested that model -- until last night. That was the first time I had used my 16GB iPhone 3GS while it was plugged into the wall outlet.

I don't recall how long I had been using the handset, but I was making my way steadily along The Oregon Trail, thank you. And at some point, I became aware the handset had become very hot. Very, very hot -- not just on the back, but the entire length of the front face, too. I was using a game, and then later the Web browser for reading the news about Michael Jackson, all over a Wi-Fi connection while plugged in. And in those circumstances, well...toasty doesn't even describe how surprisingly hot it got. It was too hot to even put the phone against my face. No discoloration to report, though; I have the black handset, and didn't see any effects.

After my own experience, I wondered if this was an isolated case, or if this was a sign of something bigger. The blog appears to confirm that this may not be an isolated case. Anyone else noticing heat issues?

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At a Glance
  • Performance enhancements distinguish the otherwise evolutionary step-up iPhone 3GS from its previous iterations.


    • Bright, high-quality fingerprint-resistant touchscreen
    • Faster processor improves performance Improved camera with video recording
    • Built-in GPS and compass
    • Decent autofocus camera with SD video capability
    • Extremely fast and responsive
    • Large amount of internal storage
    • All the new features of iPhone OS 3.0 Software Update
    • Voice control for phone dialing and music


    • Battery life still disappoints Still no true multitasking
    • Onboard video trimming is destructive
    • Requires two-year commitment to AT&T Wireless for lowest prices
    • Soft-looking video
    • Voice Control lacks some polish
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