DigiTimes reported today that smartphone players such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and High Tech Computer (HTC) have started showing interest in adopting ultra-thin heat pipes for their smartphones and are expected to release heat pipe-adopted models in the fourth quarter, at the earliest, according to sources from cooling module player. Yet like so many times, Apple has been known to buck some of the industry's traditional trends. The most recent is Apple's AirDrop solution coming to iOS 7 which blatantly bucks the trend of using NFC technology that the likes of Samsung use in their Galaxy product line-up. Apple's Craig Federighi got quite the laugh making fun of Samsung's solution of physically having to tap smartphones in order to transfer photos or data to those in close proximity to you. So while the industry may be moving toward adopting ultra-thin heat pipes, it doesn't necessarily guarantee that Apple will follow.
The first to adopt the new ultra-thin heat pipes in a smartphone is NEC which has just recently released a new smartphone, Medias X06E, using this system. I'm sure all smartphone players will be watching to see how the next generation heat pipes actually play out under real world conditions.
Since the conventional graphite plus foil cooling method is no longer able to dissipate enough heat in modern smartphone models efficiently, the problem is only going to get worse in the future as faster wireless technologies, multi-core processors and GPUs push the envelope in the years ahead.
Apple currently has a few alternatives on the drawing board. One involves a reinvented "Ionic Wind Generator" cooling system. A second idea was revealed last November in our report titled "Apple Invents a New Streamlined Cooling System for iPhone." Apple's most recent invention on the matter surfaced in May 2013 which discussed "diamond-like carbon coatings" to help keep battery–powered devices cooler.
At the end of the day, it's a no-brainer that next generation smartphones will continue to advance processor speeds, solid state drive capacities and new feature that will force OEMs to experiment with new cooling systems to keep smart devices humming away. DigiTimes is presuming that all of the industry players will choose to go with next generation ultrathin heat pipes. Yet Apple has clearly shown to be experimenting with alternative solutions.
In Jonny Evans report on this matter earlier today he adds: "The big disadvantage is the matter of what happens if the liquid coolant leaks -- you don't need to be a genius to figure out that your phone will probably stop working if the liquid leaks."
That may be true, but not if you consider that Apple could use liquidmetal in a liquid-cooled based iPhone. Our April report on a new liquidmetal patent covered this. Specifically, Apple's patent filing states that "In one embodiment wherein a thin bulk-solidifying amorphous alloy material is used to form the seal, the seal can simultaneously function as a bonding element that bonds the two parts together, and as a hermetic seal. A hermetic seal can refer to an airtight seal that also is impermeable to fluid or microorganisms. The seal can be used to protect and maintain the proper function of the protected content inside the seal."
The bottom line is that Apple is obviously looking at designing a new cooling-system for a future iPhone as all industry players are. But it's equally clear that Apple has a number of alternatives on the drawing board that they're experimenting with. So at the moment, it's not a done deal that Apple will follow the industry trend toward liquid-cooling for future iPhones.
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