No one would disagree with the fact that Apple's new iPad is hotter than iPad 2, if not by looks, then by a number of new features including the stunning Retina display and the faster A5X processor. This heat is indeed pleasing for those fortunate users who already have the new device. But what if you are told that your new iPad literally runs a lot hotter than its predecessor? Yes, it's been claimed in some reports that while running graphics-heavy tasks, Apple's newest device runs as much as 10 to 13 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the iPad 2.
On late Monday, Engadget cited a report by Dutch website Tweakers.net (translated) that claimed that the new iPad runs 10 degrees hotter than its predecessor when its improved GPU found inside the A5X package is tasked with running standard GLBenchmark for a couple of minutes. The report was accompanied by thermal imaging photos of the iPad 3 and iPad 2 put next to each other.
According to the sites' measurements, the new iPad reached 33.6 degrees centigrade (92.5 Fahrenheit) compared to 28.3 centigrade (82.9 Fahrenheit) with iPad 2.
Similar claims have been made by a US-based consumer advocacy group Consumer Reports, who is investigating online reports recounting overheating issues experienced by some owners of the third generation iPad.
A preliminary report by the group claimed that the new iPad hits 116 degrees Fahrenheit while running graphics-heavy action games like Infinity Blade II. Here's the crux of Consumer Reports' finding:
When unplugged, the back of the new iPad reached temperatures as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit. It was only when plugged in that it hit 116 degrees. The hottest areas weren't evenly distributed throughout the iPad's back, but were concentrated near one corner of the display as shown in the images taken from the rear of the device above.
So when plugged in, the back of the new iPad became as much as 12 degrees hotter than the iPad 2 did in the same tests; while unplugged the difference was 13 degrees.
A thread on Apple's support forum is also growing with customers' complaints about the new iPad getting hotter while playing GPU-intensive games.
However, Apple said there's no problem with the heating issue as the device operates well within thermal specifications. A company spokesperson told The Loop:
The new iPad delivers a stunning Retina display, A5X chip, support for 4G LTE plus 10 hours of battery life, all while operating well within our thermal specifications. If customers have any concerns they should contact AppleCare.
Cause of the Heat and Why 'Heatgate' Claims are 'Overblown'
According to a ZDNet report, during the thermal imaging tests, the new iPad's 4G connection was not turned on. Therefore, the high-speed mobile broadband capability is not likely to be the cause of the increased heat.
As showed in the thermal images, the hotspot is located at the lower-left hand side of the new iPad, just about two inches above the corner, and the darkened rectangular block in the new iPad is where the battery sits. Just above the battery is the logic board where the A5X dual-core processor with quad-core graphics is found.
The report explained:
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 3, particularly when the chip is being used for action games as described in Consumer Reports' tests.
In a report, ZDNet's Jason D. O'Grady cited Ray Soneira, President of DisplayMate Technologies Corporation, who said that the iPad 3 overheating claims are overblown. According to him, the cause of additional heat is the fact that the new iPad has to drive four times the amount of pixels of the iPad 2 that doubles the amount of LEDs to light it up.
According to Soneira's data, iPad 3 backlight uses 2.5 times more power than iPad 2 for the same brightness because of higher number of pixels per inch (ppi). With the new iPad's LCD panel having 72-82 LEDs, they emit 2.5 times as much heat as iPad 2 as will the battery and power electrons, the report said.
Both my new iPad and my iPad do not run excessively warm (let alone hot). As expected, I can feel that the new iPad is a bit warmer than the iPad 2, but they are both fine. Also I run mine at maximum Brightness for testing (which generates the most power and heat), whereas most people will run with a lower setting - it comes at the Middle slider setting from the factory, ZDNet quoted Soneira as saying. At the Middle slider setting the Backlight consumes only 36% as much power as at Maximum, so that is only 36% of the heat also.
The conclusion is that CPU and GPU of the new iPad can possibly heat up during extensive gaming, but what makes that major power difference between the iPad 3 and iPad 2 is the Retina display.
Yes, the heatgate issue won't be ignored as overblown if it leads to serious hardware failures, but nothing like that has been reported so far. As ZDNet said, it's actually too early to know in the product lifecycle. So let's chill!
Meanwhile, Apple announced that 3 million models of the new iPad were sold in the first three days after its launch on March 16. CEO Tim Cook called it a record weekend during the dividend and stock-repurchase conference call.
The new iPad is currently available in 12 countries, with another 24 countries waiting to get their mitts on the latest Apple tablet on March 23.
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