New iPad 'can run hotter' as Apple denies any problem

Summary:A leading consumer group, Consumer Reports, tested the new iPad after users had complained of increased warmth from the device. Here's what they found.

While Apple continues to deny that there is a problem with the new iPad, stating that it operates "well within thermal specifications", one leading consumer group challenges that view completely.

Using thermal imaging, Consumer Reports testers found that the new iPad can get much warmer when high-processing applications and games are being used. In some cases, the new iPad "gets up to 13 degrees hotter" than its iPad 2 predecessor.

"The new iPad can run significantly hotter than the earlier iPad 2 model when running an action game," the report says.

The operating temperature for the new iPad is 32°--95°F (0°--35°C). Apple recommends keeping the device within this temperature range, and unless someone is using the device outside in Arctic conditions or in the blazing Mediterranean heat, then it's unlikely that these temperatures will typically be reached.

The report explains:

"We ran our test while the new iPad was propped on the iPad Smart Cover, plugged in, and after it had run Infinity Blade II uninterrupted for about 45 minutes. The device's 4G connection was not turned on, though its Wi-Fi link was. The ambient room temperature was about 72 degrees. (Apple recommends not using the iPad in environments over 95 degrees.)"

The same test was conducted with the iPad 2 for comparison. On its own, the device reached 113°F (45°C), and when the new iPad was plugged in, it reached 116°F (46.6°C).

I said yesterday that holding the device while it runs games or similar high-processing applications, to the point where the device would increase in heat, could be described as "uncomfortably warm".

However, Consumer Reports said: "When it was at its hottest, it felt very warm but not especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period."

What causes the heat?

Considering that during tests the new iPad did not have the 4G LTE connectivity enabled, it is highly probable that the high-speed mobile broadband capability is not the cause of the increased heat.

According to the thermal images, the hot spot is towards the lower-left hand side of the new iPad, around two inches above the corner. This is where others and I have felt the heat from the new tablet.

The darkened rectangular block in the new iPad is where the battery sits. Just above the battery is home to the logic board, which houses the Apple A5X dual-core processor with quad-core graphics; a significant upgrade between the iPad 2 and the iPhone 4S.

It is therefore extremely likely, as previously thought, that the beefed up processor and graphics chip is the cause of the increased heat in the iPad 2, particularly when the chip is being used for action games as described in Consumer Reports' tests.

One mystery solved, Scooby Doo. And Apple would've gotten away with it if it weren't for those meddling kids.

Image source: Consumer Reports; iFixit.

Related:

Topics: Data Management, Apple, Enterprise Software, iPad, Mobility, Software

About

Zack Whittaker writes for ZDNet, CNET, and CBS News. He is based in New York City.

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