Apple, Samsung, HTC mull liquid-cooled phones, sources say

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,” Ben Lovejoy reports for 9to5Mac.

“Most of today’s smartphones use a graphite ‘radiator’ and foil to transmit heat to the outer casing, where it can dissipate,” Lovejoy reports. “The NEC [Medias X 06 E phone] 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.”

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Lovejoy reports, “Most of today’s smartphones use a graphite ‘radiator’ and foil to transmit heat to the outer casing, where it can dissipate.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]


  1. Heat pipes have been very effective at moving large amounts of calories in a small size.

    Heat pipes are actually multi-phase devices where the liquid returns to the hot area is vaporized and then returns to the cold end to liquify again. Heat Pipes are only partially filled with a heat transfer liquid.

  2. Using heat pipes is NOT liquid cooling. The two technologies are *radically* different.

    Liquid cooling uses a liquid that stays a liquid that is pumped through a heat sink and then to a radiator where the heat is expelled with fans and such.

    Heat pipes do not require fans or radiators. Hell, heat pipes are used in satellites! Clearly there’s no sense in a radiator or fans in space! However, heat pipes do depend upon something that liquid cooled systems do not: phase change. The heat travels down the pipe, away from the hot device as a vapor. At the far end of the pipe (typically at the heat sink end) the vapor cools to a liquid and which then travels (typically by capillary action) back to the hot device. At the device the liquid is heated and vaporized — and the cycle starts all over again.

    The biggest issue with heat pipes is that almost all designs are gravity gradient dependent. They were best in one orientation in the gravitational field and much less effectively in a different orientation. Thus if your phone has a heat pipe in it that is designed to work optimally when it is up against your ear (held vertically) it won’t work nearly as well when the phone ls lying flat on the table. Of course, you can build a design that is better on the table too, but then it will be suboptimal in all orientations.

    1. There may be no sense in a fan in space, but a radiator is perfectly rational. The purpose of a radiator is to maximize the surface area from which heat can dissipate, and this effect works in a vacuum. In fact the international space station has radiators for ejecting heat into space.

      1. Actually, no, it does not work that way in space.

        If you have two radiating surfaces that are several inches apart, but parallel, in air, the air moving between them cools both. In space, one of them radiates heat into the other. Very little is radiated into space (actually just near the ends through the gap between them). Radiators, as most people think of them — and especially of the type that people see on electronic components today (like CPUs and GPUs) are pretty useless in space.

        The “radiators” on the international space station are nothing like the radiators that are used in common electronics on the Earth’s surface or in aircraft. Flat plates facing deep space are the best radiators on spacecraft of any kind.

        Those radiators are technically “second surface mirrors” that are large flat plates that truly radiate more IR energy than the broad spectrum energy they pick up from the Earth or Sun or other celestial objects. Also those radiator plates are not facing each other in any fashion. You don’t want to even THINK about using those kinds of radiators in a cell phone or laptop!

        1. Shadowself: did you read the article before commenting? It’s talking about transmitting heat to the outer casing of the phone where it radiates off. There is no air involved. Phones don’t have fans inside moving air around. Contrary to your claim, phones’ radiators work perfectly well in space, because they work the same as space radiators: the flat outer casing radiates off the heat. And for all your lecturing here, the fact is that ISS space radiators ARE radiators. They might be different to car radiators because there is no air to absorb the heat, thus they are designed differently, but nevertheless they radiate the heat out of them, and are radiators.

  3. This is bullocks…

    If they thought it necessary for a heat pipe, then there goes your battery. The only thing that really requires cooling is the battery itself. I can imagine a point where the CPU requires cooling, however, if you are at that level, you are chewing through your battery reserve. The heat pipe will take more space suggesting a smaller battery. Also I believe this is a lazy man’s solution to a complex engineering need. “Power Management”

    It’s better to engineer faster processing and lower power requirements, than cooling mechanisms.

  4. The jokes aside. The concept of using liquid cooled for mobile devices is a very dangerous subject. Consider the components involved in the first place; battery, CPU, and display. All subject to damage, fire, and in some incidents… Explosion. Liquid can really create very unpredictable results in a device subject to extreme drops, torque, and pressure damage. I really would not expect to see this placed into any phone and believe it to be more fantasy than reality.

  5. In the meantime, using a bumper instead of covering up the back with a full iPhone case goes a long way in dissipating heat.
    The bumper is one of Apple’s good idea’s.

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