Warmgate, Hotroversy, Heatgate: take your pick, there may be others to describe the latest Apple product controversy. This time critics and some users are saying the new iPad gets too hot. So hot for some that it reportedly shuts down. Apple has already weighed in — sooner, I’d say than with other product imbroglios — to insist the product performs within specifications. As far as I’m concerned this is Apple‘s biggest nontroversy yet.
First of all, what exactly did consumers expect? Apple took essentially the same chassis as the last iPad (the iPad 2) and built in four powerful new components: the A5X CPU, a quad-core graphics processor (it’s on the A5X but still counts as GPU), a 4G LTE radio and the ultra-high-rez retina display. Guess what all of those generate? Heat! Apple increased the size of the iPad’s battery just to support all the extra juice these components would need. It’s a natural law of technology that more powerful components eat more energy and thereby generate more heat.
Look at today’s laptops. Depending on where you point an infrared thermometer on their chassis, you can read temperatures ranging from 80 to a steamy 111 degrees Fahrenheit. This realization led a few years ago to a string of consumer stories on how laptops sitting in the wrong place on your laps could ruin male fertility.
So far no one I know has reported extreme heat or shutdowns with their new iPads. But a good number of respondents on Mashable’s anecdotal poll did report excessive heat. A report on iMore, though, puts this in perspective. When they measured the hottest point on an iPad New after 40 minutes of processor-intensive 1080p video viewing, gameplay and more, it was 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
That sounds hot, but it’s at least 10 degrees cooler than the hottest laptop I’ve ever used. It’s not scalding hot (your “keep warm” setting in your oven is around 200 degrees F), but I guess it could get uncomfortable and make your palms a little sweaty.
The iPhone 4S, which has the A5 CPU and similar graphics power, can also get pretty hot (I’ve noticed this when playing Infinity Blade II or Batman: Arkham City Lockdown), but never so much so that I couldn’t keep holding it or experienced a shutdown.
The real issue with heat and technology is that when your gadgets run hot, the battery can run down far faster than normal. It may be too early to assess if the new iPad is suffering from this issue. Remember, though, the new iPad has a much bigger battery for a reason.
Now, some of the Android Ice Cream Sandwich tablets I’ve seen in the last few months have just as much power as the new iPad. However most of them come with more built-in ventilation. The way the iPad is designed, virtually all heat has to dissipate out of the body. I bet a fair amount of it wafts right off the retina screen.
If Heatroversy turns out to be a bigger problem than we thought, Apple may come to regret its decision to leave the chassis virtually untouched between the iPad 2 and the iPad New.
I doubt this.
I know people believed Antennagate was a huge deal. Steve Jobs did have to hold a press conference to explain. In the end, though, few people returned their iPhone 4 for this reason. The product was a huge hit and though there were design changes made to ostensibly deal with the issue, the latest iPhone looks almost exactly like the first iPhone 4.
The hot new iPad is even more of a non-issue. I predict a lot more stories about this and very few returns.
Have a surface thermometer at home? Take the temperature of your favorite gadgets (and other items on your home and office) and report back here in the comments.