News: So, It’s Going to Be Heat-Gate? Nope.

Posted on March 20, 2012

It seems that news of the iPad is running as much as 10° F hotter has started hitting various non-tech news outlets, since it’ll get page views and create a stir. According to Reuters, Consumer Reports is planning on testing the new iPad to address these concerns.

Consumer Reports, which reviews everything from electronics to cars, noticed comments on online forums and on Apple’s website about excessive heat from the new device, which went on sale Friday, and decided to look into the issue, a spokesman said. The group will publish its findings on Tuesday after finishing a battery of tests, the spokesman added.

I really didn’t want to contribute to this story, since it has been growing over the past couple of hours, but in my use of the new iPad I’ve only felt the one side of the iPad get a little warmer, but not uncomfortably so (the best analogy is an iPhone after a long phone call). If there are units running excessively hotter, due to a defect, I can understand the concern, but it does have some power-intensive things, as Apple has explained to 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,” Apple representative Trudy Muller, told The Loop. “If customers have any concerns they should contact AppleCare.”

The Findings

Update (3PM Eastern): As expected, Consumer Reports published its thermal imaging camera findings and they seem to be in line with our experiences:

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.)

…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.

During our tests, I held the new iPad in my hands. When it was at its hottest, it felt very warm but not especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period.

Interesting, it seems that some power-hungry games, the iPad uses both the battery and power from the wall (if so, Apple needs to address this):

We also noticed that the new iPad wasn’t charging while the game was running and it was plugged in. In fact, the battery continued to drain. It charged normally, however, when we weren’t running a game.

This post has been filed in News