In most regards, Consumer Reports do great work, but when it comes to Apple’s mobile devices, they’ve historically tended to act like bozos. Quickly jumping upon the Antennagate bandwagon when the iPhone 4 came out, Consumer Reports refused to recommend Apple’s latest handset for over a year. When the iPhone 4S came out, Consumer Reports grudgingly said it was worth buying, but not as good as Android phones. Are you for real?
Anyway, yesterday, in response to reports that the new iPad ran hotter than its predecessor, Consumer Reports eagerly promised to investigate, sniffing another scandal. They’ve now published some preliminary results, though, and surprise! They’re surprisingly sensible.
The first thing Consumer Reports discovered was that while the new iPad “can run significantly hotter than the earlier iPad 2”, “at its hottest, it felt very warm but not especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period.”
That said, Consumer Reports has found that when pushed to the max, the new iPad is significantly hotter than Apple’s operational guidelines suggest. In fact, Consumer Reports was able to get the new iPad up to 116 degrees by playing Infinity Blade II on it for 45 minutes while it was plugged in. That’s a graphically intensive game, and plugging in the iPad always causes it to get hotter, but even so, that’s with LTE off, and 116 degrees is 21 degrees north of Apple’s stated upper limit of 95 degrees.
Also interesting was this:
We also noticed that the new iPad wasn’t charging while the game was running and it was plugged in. In fact, the battery continued to drain. It charged normally, however, when we weren’t running a game.
This rings true. I’ve noticed that the new iPad charges much more slowly when the display is active than the iPad 2 did. In fact, I’ve seen the display only tick up one percent in an entire hour when charging during constant usage. The bottom line is that it seems that while the new Retina Display is cutting edge, battery and charging technology hasn’t caught up with it: the only way to get it to work for 10 hours straight was for Apple to cram as much battery in as possible, not through the adoption of more advanced battery tech. This is where Sharp’s IGZO process is sorely missed: it would have cut down on the power being drawn from the new iPad’s display significantly. If Apple had, as it hoped, shipped the new iPad with an IGZO display, it’s possible the new iPad would have had better battery life than its predecessor, and been less thick and heavy to boot.
It’ll be interesting to see if Consumer Reports‘ heat tests influence their final review of the device.