Does the new iPad suffer with heat issues?

Does the new iPad suffer with heat issues?

Summary: Apple's latest iPad becomes very warm in places, even after a short time, and its users are becoming concerned at its operating temperatures. How hot is 'too hot'?

TOPICS: Apple, iPad, Mobility

LONDON, UK --- After holding the new iPad for no longer than a minute, it quickly becomes apparent at how warm the third-generation iPad can feel in one's hands.

On the lower-left hand corner of the device --- according to iFixit images, it appears this is where the processor sits within the device --- becomes very warm after prolonged use.

The new iPad includes a slightly larger case to accommodate the new battery, which powers not only the 4G LTE components but the high-resolution Retina display. The device also has a beefed up dual-core A5X processor with quad-core graphics. It has no moving parts, and no fan to extradite the heat.

It should come as no surprise that the new iPad should be a tad warmer to use when plugged in, working on heavy tasks like gaming, or when using the next-generation 4G LTE wireless technology.

It's also not a new phenomenon, with the original iPad and the iPad 2 having similar issues.

But the new iPad does belt out some heat, and some are complaining that this is causing "overheating" warnings on the tablet (see right), even when it is being used for a short period of time.

Some can't use the device even on a sunny day, with the iPad exceeding its operating temperatures of 32°--95°F (0°--35°C).

I would describe the heat emanating from the new iPad as "uncomfortably warm". It's not enough by a long shot to fry an egg on, but holding the tablet in portrait mode over its warmer areas borders on one's inner instinct to place your hands elsewhere.

Playing a game on the new iPad in store and the device gets noticeably warmer. You hear folklore stories of devices exploding. This level of heat hardly quells such irrational fears.

ZDNet's Hana Stewart-Smith also noticed the heat when she visited her local Apple store in Ginza, Tokyo. "In the ten minutes or so that I had to play around with it, I noticed that it became very warm, very quickly, making me wonder how comfortable it might be for long term use."

"That being said, the tablet was a display piece that had already been running since the crack of dawn, so I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt before I suggest this is a major issue," she added.

Devices will become warmer when they are plugged in. The latest iteration of the MacBook Air becomes slightly warmer towards the back-underneath when it is plugged in, but it is barely noticeable.

Others have taken to forums to question how warm the new iPad should be, and each other. Scouring the Apple support forums, it is clear that some are noticing the problem more. The device heat itself is not causing the user issues of burning or skin peeling off, but rather the tablet itself throws open a box warning that it cannot run in higher temperatures.

Apple declined to comment. No surprise there.


Topics: Apple, iPad, Mobility

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Does the iPad

    Even have a proper cooling system?
    The one and only, Cylon Centurion
    • re: cooling

      Nope. ARM is supposed to operate at room temps without the need for heatsinks or fans.
      • ARM yes

        But, what about the GPU?
      • re: cooling

        Define 'room temps' please.

        And what happens when someone's trying to use the device in a non-air conditioned environment? In sunlight?

        What happens when the iPad is 'working' and it is inside some sort of padded (insulation) container?

        Too many variables here and not enough answers.
      • any device

        Of course, you can make any device overhead if you are not operating it according to spec and common sense.

        Doesn't matter if the cpu id ARM or Intel. If it has tiny GPU like Tegra 3 or quad core GPU like A5X.

        At least, good is that the iPad does not have fans!
    • The iPad has a heat-coupling pad between the CPU/GPU and the alminum case.

      So yes, it has a proper cooling system: One heat-generating chip coupled to a massive heat sink.
    • Yeah

      It's called an aluminum heat sink and cover the entire back of the device. The fact that it gets warm means that it is doing its job of cooling the CPU/GPU
      • re: but...

        The appearance of the image above, this close to product launch concerns me. Generally, with electronics and repair, when a device begins to exhibit overheating issues when it shouldn't be means either the cooling design is inadequate, the component itself is faulty or something else is causing the elevated rise in idle/load tempratures..
      • @Nate

        or somebody is putting a nice, insulating plastic cover on the back of the unit.
    • It's not like we weren't warned

      everyone claimed this would be the "[b]hot[/b] new Apple product". ;)
      William Farrel
  • some yes

    I used one for several hours yesterday and never felt any heat at all... this session included a bout with NFS: Hot Pursuit HD and still nothing...

    Oh and the one I used was a white 32 Gig model.

    Now, there were two forum posts at Apple complaining about the heat so, yeah, it is happening to some of them.
    • It gets warm but not "uncomfortably" warm.

      People (and myself) have noticed the surprising heat characteristic of this new iPad. I say surprising because the previous iPad models and other iOS devices did not generate this noticeable external warmth from their internal electronics.

      But this generated heat energy is "no big deal" since the heat is no where near sufficient to "fry" one's fingers holding the tablet.

      However, as large corporations are fond of stating, this will be one design element that is open to improvement opportunities.
      • No big deal?

        I wouldn't draw that conclusion at all, especially since heat warnings are being triggered even when the device has only been idle. Don't assume that the external surface temperature of the device case is any indication of the actual internal temperature of the processor and logic board components.

        I find it rather bizarre that Apple decided to put the processors in an area of the device where the aluminium case above them would be additionally heated by the presence of the human hand. That sort of design may make this device virtually impossible to use in tropical climates where the average daily air temperature is about 87 degrees.
      • "Uncomfortably warm"

        Is entirely subjective, I grant you that. I think it is, but others may have thicker skin than I. Literally.
      • Perhaps Bluetooth being enabled accounts for the additional heat

        A thought occurred to me regarding Bluetooth and system heat. By default, Bluetooth capability is enabled. (I noticed that my battery charge levels were being depleted at a faster rate than I am accustomed to.)

        I switched off Bluetooth in System Preferences and noticed that the rate of decline for my battery charge levels had lessened. (Not surprising.) However, the heat generated also declined. Perhaps there is a connection there. Maybe not but it would be worth a try to make sure, if a person is not using a Bluetooth enabled device, to simply deactivate Bluetooth in System Preferences.
      • Errr....

        I wouldn't leave it on a couch while still running. :-)
    • I've been able to get it a little warm..

      But not hot. To me it seems to be I/O dependent. I have a large song inventory and when I was syncing with iCloud the back got a little warm. However I have gotten the heat warning before when being outside and leaving the black screen facing up or leaving it in the car exposed to the sun. The covers help out big time by not allowing the iPad to get directly hot from the sun. This is heat 101.. The same thing would happen if I left my black dell laptop out on my seat. I think some people like to just complain.
      • It is a surprise though

        Just playing for one for a short time in Best Buy it did get warm, not just the back but also the front glass. It did not get hot, just warm.
        Surprising as my iPad2 does not exhibit this. Playing for a couple of hours with a battery draining app will show some warmth on the iPad2 but that was still less than the model in Best Buy.

        btw: it was cold when I picked it up : 16gb wifi white
  • We gave our iPad-3 a thorough run over the weekend.

    Probably the most-stressful activity for it was running Google Maps in "Hybrid" (Roads+Satellite imagery) mode while traveling into the wilds of Maine.

    While it certainly warmed above ambient temperature, it never got what I would describe as "hot" and it certainly never warned that it was too hot to operate. I also copied 40 GB of music into the iPad and while that caused my old Macintosh to run plenty hot, the iPad never broke a sweat. Perhaps this problem, if it exists at all, is restricted to intensive gaming?
    • Maybe...

      Based on the small amount of information here I would peg manufacturing defect affecting some percentage of the units. A lot of the use cases pegged don't seem to indicate gaming particularly.

      Given the stress that Foxconn was probably under to ship units I could easily see manufacturing defects slipping through, particularly as heat generation has not traditionally been a major issue in iOS devices.