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Does downloading a lot on my smartphone shorten its life?

Question: Does using a smartphone to download torrents reduce the lifespan of its memory card? By how much? How long would a Micro SD 32GB card last when it’s used for downloading torrents 24/7? Will the phone get too hot? Is there any effect on its life?

You have a couple of very interesting questions here about smartphone usage. Ultimately, I have to say that it depends. I’ll discuss why.

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Downloading torrents

Torrents and peer-to-peer file sharing are nothing more than uploading and downloading data to your device. It’s just like any other kind of data upload or download except:

  • A lot of illegal stuff is distributed via torrents (I’m going to assume that everything you’re doing is above board).
  • It’s constantly uploading and downloading stuff.

The issue isn’t if torrents cause problems for your phone. What you’re really wondering is if the constant data downloading and uploading will shorten the life of your phone.

That depends on its storage medium.

Determining lifespan of memory

With torrents, uploading is not an issue.

Downloading, on the other hand…

In your question, you said that you’re using an SD card, which is flash memory. As you may know from reading my other articles on this subject, writing to flash memory shortens the life of a USB device or an SD card. The rate at which you’re writing to the card determines how short the lifespan of the memory will be.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definite way to figure this out. The lifespan of flash memory depends on how much you’re writing to the card and what the quality of the card is. That makes the number of possibilities so wide that there’s just no way to give you a specific limit easily.

Mobile Phone in useOverheating phones

Your phone can get hot for a number of reasons. For instance, your phone may heat up depending on the signal strength that the phone has to the local mobile or cellular tower. Typically, when a phone is farther from the tower, it has to work harder.

Just writing and reading from an SD card shouldn’t cause excessive heat. It’s the CPU usage of the phone (which also shouldn’t be very much in a case like this) and the actual transmit power that’s required for the phone to connect to the cellular tower.

In the end, I can’t give you specific answers to your questions. What you’re asking about depends on too many other factors.

But if you do download a lot of data to your phone, I don’t know if it would noticeably shorten the life of your phone. As the technology evolves, you will eventually want to buy a new phone, after all. In that case, it might not be worth the worry.

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2 comments on “Does downloading a lot on my smartphone shorten its life?”

  1. Another aspect is the physical impact of handling the phone with such continuous sessions.

    Consider the quantity of key presses or finger swipes to the screen, implied by the question.
    These could lead to fatigue problems for those entities – as well as possibly the user.

  2. “With torrents, uploading is not an issue.” Yes, when it comes to the flash memory, but from the legal standpoint, it’s pretty much the opposite (I’m going to assume that everything most people are doing is NOT above board) :-)


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