Heat on Apple over claims about new iPad by US reviews bible

21 Mar 2012

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Some 3m units of the new iPad sold in its first three days of release

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US reviews bible Consumer Reports – which has a 75-year pedigree reviewing products for the American consumer – has sparked a controversy over whether the new iPad from Apple overheats. Its tests claim the new iPad hits 46C (116F) while running games.

While some blogs have made tongue-in-cheek jokes about the new iPad being the next George Foreman grill, let’s not forget that Consumer Reports is a highly respected publication in the US and the very publication whose review sparked ‘antenna-gate’ over whether there were signal problems with the iPhone 4.

“The new iPad can run significantly hotter than the earlier iPad 2 model when running an action game, Consumer Reports testers have found,” the publication said in its review.

“Using a thermal-imaging camera, Consumer Reports engineers recorded temperatures as high as 116F on the front and rear of the new iPad while playing Infinity Blade II,” it added.

Consumer Reports ran its test while the iPad was propped on the iPad Smart Cover and ran the game uninterrupted for 45 minutes, with the Wi-Fi connection on but 4G connection off. It also ran the test with the iPad unplugged.

“When unplugged, the back of the new iPad reached temperatures as high as 113F (45C). It was only when plugged in that it hit 116F. 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.

“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,” Consumer Reports said.

It also noted that the new iPad wasn’t charging while the game was running and plugged in and that the battery was actually draining.

What will Apple do next over ‘heat’ claims?

Consumer Reports said the findings came as various consumer complaints are cropping up.

Apple revealed Monday it had sold 3m new iPads within three days of launch last Friday.

The device is made notable by its Retina display that provides 40 times crisper images than today’s high-definition TVs, as well as a larger battery and an A5x processor.

So what does this mean for buyers of the new iPad – don’t play Infinity Blade? This is isn’t something Apple will take in its stride and likely, as with the iPhone 4, it will thoroughly investigate. It will be an early test of CEO Tim Cook’s mettle.

The late Steve Jobs pulled off something of a public relations coup while addressing the iPhone 4 antenna-gate issue by pointing out that the same issue affected all contemporary smartphones, but nonetheless issued free bumpers, replacements and refunds. Very few took him up on the refund offer.

But the new iPad is a different kettle of fish (pardon the pun) – with more than 90pc of the market for tablet computers and pushing the boundaries of new technological advancement in terms of display, processing power and 4G, Apple is on its own in this space.

Thus far the company has issued this statement: “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.”

Below: thermal images published in Consumer Reports‘ latest review of the new iPad

Consumer Reports

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com