NEC's liquid-cooled Medias smartphone

NEC’s liquid-cooled Medias smartphone

Digitimes is not a source noted for its hit-rate, but its claim that Apple, Samsung and HTC are all considering liquid-cooled phones isn’t quite as far-fetched as it sounds: NEC has already launched one.

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.

The NEC Medias X 06 E launched last month in Japan was nicknamed the ladyphone, as it was designed to appeal to women who apparently complained about the heat generated by smartphones. The phone itself was nothing special – a 1.7Ghz quad-core Snapdragon processor with 4.7-inch display – it is the cooling that made it stand out … 

Most of today’s smartphones use a graphite ‘radiator’ and foil to transmit heat to the outer casing, where it can dissipate. The NEC uses the same liquid cooling system used in some ultrabooks: a pipe filled with coolant which carries the heat away from the CPU and wireless chips. The difference is the size of the pipe. While ultrabooks have pipes with a typical diameter of around 1.1mm (0.04 inches), the NEC uses pipes almost half the size.

Digitimes’ claim that we can expect Apple to adopt liquid cooling by the end of the year seems unlikely: while several companies are working on the technology for smartphones, current yield rates are said to be just 30%. But with smartphone processors becoming ever beefier, and 4G chips generating more heat, we probably can expect liquid cooling to become a mainstream technology for smartphones in the not too distant future.

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Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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