Pixel Phones Get So Hot That Google Wants to Teach You How to Cool Them

In Short
  • Google is addressing Pixel phones' heating issues with an upcoming Adaptive Thermal feature.
  • The feature will send a notification at 49 degrees Celsius if the device is too hot, with tips on how to cool the phone down.
  • At 55 degrees, it will notify you before 30 seconds that the device will shut down.

Google Pixel phones have a reputation for running hot, leading to performance throttling. While Google has improved thermals, it comes at the cost of limiting the Tensor SoC’s potential. It looks like Google has realized that it needs to go further, and is, thus, working on Adaptive Thermal, a new feature that could help bring the temperature of Pixels down.

First spotted by Android expert Mishaal Rahman, Adaptive Thermal will reside within Pixel’s Device Health Services app. The feature won’t magically bring down the temperature but will send notifications to users and automatically take necessary steps if the device is getting too hot.

Understanding Thermal Throttling and Adaptive Thermal

Android devices, including Pixels, automatically throttle performance when they overheat. This is called thermal throttling. Adaptive Thermal expands on this by: first sending a notification when the device temperature reaches 49 degrees Celsius. This notification will read “Phone Needs to Cool Down” advising users to avoid sunlight or close demanding apps.

Phone hot
Image: Reddit | Existing Android warning when a Pixel is operating hot

You may also see a pre-emergency notification that reads “You may experience slower performance. Try avoiding direct sunlight or close any battery-intensive apps”. Adaptive Thermal will also offer a See care steps option that will detail ongoing measures to cool your phone and actions you need to take to help do it.

When the temperature reaches 52 degrees Celsius, your phone will enter an emergency state where “more drastic steps” will be taken. At 55 degrees Celsius, Adaptive Thermal will issue a 30-second shutdown warning to prevent further damage.

Will Adaptive Thermal Fix Pixel’s Heating Issues?

While Adaptive Thermal can help with user awareness and temperature control, it might not be a complete solution to Pixel’s long-standing thermal issues. It is a welcome feature for those living in areas where summers are too harsh.

While this change signifies that Google is acknowledging the heating problem on Pixel phone, throttling to prevent overheating feels outdated in this day and age. The unfortunate part is, that Google is likely to restrict the performance of the Tensor G4 on its upcoming Google Pixel 9 series for the same reason.

tensor g3

Rumors suggest a 10% performance increase over the G3, but throttling could render it negligible. Other manufacturers address thermal issues through advanced SoCs, efficient cooling materials, and design techniques. Google’s reliance on software to restrict performance feels like a missed opportunity.

However, I’ll give this to Google. Pixel UI’s optimization game is still bang on, be it background apps and battery optimization or the overall smoothness and responsiveness of the UI, especially after Android 15. It makes you wonder if Google should shift its entire focus to Android again.

Tensor G5: Pixel’s Last Hope

There’s so much banking on the shoulders of the Tensor G5, it feels like we’re in the final arc of a series. The Tensor G5 is expected to be manufactured by TSMC, not Samsung, which might hopefully bring better thermal performance.

Image: Shutterstock

Will there still be a few catches? Maybe. Will the Tensor G5 perform as well as the latest flagship SoCs of tomorrow? Probably not. But we do hope the thermal performance is sorted out or else it would be a tough market to beat with competitors like MediaTek closing the gap, making great SoCs.

Realistically, I don’t have my hopes high with the Tensor G5, knowing how most Tensor-powered Google Pixels exhibit issues at launch. What do you think of Google limiting the performance with Adaptive Thermal? What are some of the issues you’ve faced in Pixels? Let us know in the comments.

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