As devices get smaller and more sophisticated, heat dissipation becomes more and more of an issue. A smartphone has many working parts and can sometimes get hot to the touch if overworked. It is reported that Samsung is turning to liquid cooling (which is more common for custom-built desktop PCs) to address heat dissipation issues in its upcoming flagship smartphone: the Samsung Galaxy S7.
Two of Samsung’s competitors are already on board with liquid cooling: Microsoft’s Lumia 950XL and the Sony Xperia Z5. The issue is space—today’s smartphones have screen sizes closer to tablets and have gotten considerably thinner, making the cooling issue a matter of compact design. The design below shows how Samsung could implement liquid cooling in the Galaxy S7.
Fujitsu announced a cooling device that will solve the heat dissipation problem back in March. “Smartphones, tablets and other similar mobile devices are increasingly multi-functional and fast. These spec improvements, however, have increased heat generated from internal components, and the overheating of localized parts in devices has become problematic. Fujitsu has developed a thin loop heat pipe, less than one millimeter thick, to solve this problem. It is capable of transferring approximately five times more heat than current thin heat pipes,” the company said, showing that heat dissipation could be accomplished more efficiently without needing to increase the size of an electronic device to accommodate liquid cooling pipes.
Poor heat dissipation could cause the destruction of a phone’s battery. Popular Mechanics reported that Li-ion batteries could lose as much as 15 percent of their capacity over a year with only a 40 percent charge at temperatures of 40°C (104°F). While there are some phones that allow the user to swap in spare batteries, phones that have non-removable batteries have to be taken in for service. “Heat is a killer of all batteries,” said Isidor Buchmann, CEO of battery-testing firm Cadex Electronics.
Chip maker Qualcomm came under fire earlier this year because of the design of one of their chips. The Snapdragon 810 was noted for causing heating issues—namely because the chip can scale to accommodate 4K HD video, which is already available in larger gadgets such as TVs, game consoles and PCs, but is still a work in progress for mobile devices.
Liquid cooling could benefit phones greatly if implemented. However, it would mean making a sacrifice elsewhere. Consumers who tend to focus on productivity apps shouldn’t worry, but mobile gamers and those filming video should take into account that mobile technology still has some catching up to do when it comes to dissipating heat.