Over the last few days, reports from users of Apple’s new iPad have indicated that it runs warmer than its predecessor, the iPad 2. This was confirmed today by Consumer Reports, who ran a battery of tests on the new tablet with thermometers and thermal imaging.
The organization found that the new iPad ran up to 13 degrees hotter than the iPad 2 while running the graphically intense game Infinity Blade 2. When plugged in to the wall, the new iPad reached 116 degrees at its peak, and when unplugged it hit a lower 113 degree peak. The readings were taken in Fahrenheit while the iPad was on WiFi, not LTE.
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This increase in temperature is slight and, although detectable to the touch, will likely hold no danger of burning or even minor discomfort for users of the new tablet. “I held the new iPad in my hands,” says Consumer Reports’ Donna L. Tapellini. “When it was at its hottest, it felt very warm but not especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period.”
Frankly, this increase in temperature is absolutely to be expected. The new iPad uses a graphics processor that is twice as powerful as the iPad 2s: quad-core versus dual-core. The heat map provided by Consumer Reports shows the ‘hot spot’ as being on the lower left-hand side of the iPad.
This is exactly where Apple’s new A5X processor, which combines a dual-core processor with quad-core graphics chip, sits on the new iPad’s logic board. This chip powers a Retina display that packs more pixels into a sharper flat panel than any other mobile device ever made.
The typical processor of a ‘regular’ computer running at 1Ghz can reach as high as 160 degrees Fahrenheit, and those don’t normally include graphics chips, the A5X is likely running even hotter than that. Yet, the exterior casing of the iPad is only hitting 116 degrees under very heavy load. This is a remarkable feat of engineering and fine tuning.
The long and short of it is that Consumer Reports ran testing, but it also crafted the reporting of that testing to be as sensational as possible, using five different variations on the word ‘hot’. It obviously did this to capitalize on the fear of overheating. As a consumer advocate, it should be doing the opposite, helping customers to realize when things are truly damaging or worth their attention. We’ll see what stance the organization takes in days ahead, but it doesn’t have a great track record with this of late, choosing instead to trade in sensationalism and fear mongering,
Apple itself feels that the iPad is performing within its testing tolerances, and says that if customers have concerns, they can contact AppleCare.
For reference, a cup of lukewarm tea runs about 130 degrees Fahrenheit, that’s around 54 degrees celsius.