The race to decisively nail the title of world’s coolest smartphone just got hotter, with both Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung Electronics (NASDAQ:SSNLF) reportedly evaluating the use of liquid cooling technology for their next generation of smartphones.
The technology is already in use in some laptops, where ultra-thin heat pipes are used to carry heat away from processors and wireless chip. Heat pipes contain a liquid that turns into a vapour when it comes into contact with a hot interface. The vapour then travels along the heat pipe to the cold interface, condensing back into a liquid, and releasing the latent heat.
But let’s leave the technical details for the engineers. What matters to me - and you – is that that niggling heat that we have all felt emanating from our smartphones, sometimes even after just casual use, could be a thing of the past – as soon as the fourth quarter of the year.
If you, like me, find it irritating that metallic phones heat up more, and more often, than their plastic counterparts, then this news should come as a breeze of cool air in stark summers. Most probably, Apple’s iPhone 6 will feature this technology, as will the Galaxy S5, the next iteration of Samsung’s Galaxy line of smartphones.
And this news actually comes in the nick of time. Traditionally, smartphones such as the iPhone have used a graphite-plus-foil insulating method to keep the heat within the device, but with apps getting more and more demanding of processors, and processors getting more powerful, this method is no longer efficient enough to keep the heat from filtering out, as we all know very well.
And with 4G fast becoming a common transmission specification for smartphones, the heat problem was only expected to become worse. Now, however, Apple and Samsung seem to be evaluating a cool solution for that.
According to a new report by DigiTimes, “smartphone players such as Apple, Samsung Electronics and High Tech Computer 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.”
DigiTimes says heat pipe cooled smartphone models could be released by the fourth quarter at the earliest.
In fact, even if the iPhone 6 and Galaxy S5 sport this technology, they won’t be the world’s first mass market liquid-cooled smartphones. That title belongs to the NEC Medias X-06E, which will be made available on Japanese carrier, NTT DoCoMo.
“Currently there are already several cooling module players including Japan-based Furukawa Electric, Taiwan-based Chaun-Choung Technology, Auras and TaiSol Electronics, are developing 0.6mm heat pipes; however, because the heat pipes only have a yield rate of 30 per cent, these players are working aggressively over improving their production currently,” says DigiTimes.
Additionally, Apple is said have a few alternatives on the drawing board too. One involves a reinvented “Ionic Wind Generator” cooling system. A second idea was revealed last November by Patently Apple in its 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.
Either way, we know that Apple, Samsung, HTC and NEC (and no doubt numerous others) will have coller smartphones for us soon, hopefully by the end of this year.