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Future Apple iPhones, iPads may have internal fans

post #1 of 52
Thread Starter 
It was revealed in a patent filing on Thursday that Apple is exploring the use of mechanical fans in portable devices, like the iPhone and iPad, to dissipate the heat made by increasingly powerful CPUs.

Exploded View
Exploded view of cooling and alert system with vibrator (136), motor (118), clutch (134), fan (146), and headphone jack air input port (108).


The invention discovered by AppleInsider is called "Cooling system for mobile electronic devices," and basically outlines a platform that uses a motor to drive two parts, a fan and an alert device.

In one embodiment, the motor drives a fan to dissipate heat by "exchanging air between an inner cavity of the mobile computing device and an outer environment," while a clutch and drum setup allows the same motor to drive an alert device like a vibrator. By joining the two operable components to one motor, space is saved in the already cramped chassis seen in current iPhone iterations such as the iPhone 5.

Assembled
Assembled cooling and alert unit.


Cooling is taken care of by the fan unit, which is situated in a cavity within the device. Air is pulled in either by a dedicated input port, or through an existing structural component like the Lightning connector plug or earphone jack. Exhaust is pushed out of the device via a similar hole in the chassis.

Going further, the system can dynamically drive either the fan, alert device, or both, by employing a clutch that can switch power to either component. To do so, the clutch may selectively engage and disengage the fan or vibrator based on the rotational speed of the drive shaft. For example, the centrifugal force created by the motor may reach a point where engagement members on a drum shaft or second drive shaft extend outward. These members can engage the inside of a drum, thus causing the drum drive shaft to rotate.

Engagement
Illustration of centrifugal force activating engagement members.


More advanced methods of connecting the motor to the fan and vibrator units are described, though are based on the same principles.

It is unclear if Apple plans to use the invention in an upcoming iDevice, but it seems doubtful that such additional components can reasonably fit within the iPhone, which becomes increasingly thin with each design evolution.

The iPad would be better suited for such a system, as consumers have complained of high temperatures generated when operating the device for extended periods of time, or running CPU-intensive apps. With the new fourth-generation iPad's switch to the Lightning connector, there is extra space within the aluminum chassis for the platform, however Apple has previously boasted that the tablet's design does not need noisy cooling fans.
post #2 of 52
Personally, I'm not a big fan of this idea.
post #3 of 52
Here come the Apple Fan Boyz...
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"If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything" Robert Zemeckis/Bob Gale/Robert_E._Lee
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post #4 of 52

You'd end up with a paradox - a guy who is a fan of the fan will be an Apple fandroid!

post #5 of 52
As a related topic, is there any news of iPad 4 being as thermically hot as the iPad 3? Or is the A6X CPU a cooler chip?
post #6 of 52
it's pretty smart to use the existing headphone jack as the vent. still, i hope Apple can keep their iDevices fan-less.

where there be fans, there be dust.
post #7 of 52
Cool!
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post #8 of 52

Samsung are right now assigning their most *fanatical* engineers to implement this first.

post #9 of 52
post #10 of 52
uh smart? so when you connect the headphones the air vent gets blocked!
a fan that vibrates and makes noise inside a phone seems like the worse idea ever.
post #11 of 52
I read somewhere that the iPad 4 is cooler, but I'm not sure how they verified it
post #12 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by edubong View Post

uh smart? so when you connect the headphones the air vent gets blocked!
a fan that vibrates and makes noise inside a phone seems like the worse idea ever.

 

If the headphone port is used there could be a channel or some other method of allowing air to flow - depends really on just how much are needs to be moved. 

 

A fan that vibrates and makes noise is a fan that is not working very efficiently or effectively - the vibrational aspect of this story is the vibrating device that is already in every phone that has a vibrate mode - the interesting point of the filing is that portions the existing vibrational mechanism could be used to drive the fan. 

 

 

Why not make it water cooled? use that nano coating to waterproof the device : http://www.tomsguide.com/us/Nanocoating-Liquipel-Waterproof-Smartphones-cases,news-13900.html : and then if it is getting too hot - just pour some cold water on it. 

post #13 of 52
I've had an iPad 2 since its release. I've never felt it get hot, and I live in a climate where 100 degree weather is common.

My iPhone 4S gets toasty when charging or talking on it for long periods, but nothing odd or even remotely bothersome.

I can see this in a MacBook Air, though. More specifically, an ARM-based MacBook Air that needs a light breeze to cool down, not a ferocious wind like Intel's x86 chips.
post #14 of 52

A fan that vibrates might be a sign that it works, but it's still not cool in my opinion. 

On the other hand, if you still need a second air vent, that defeats the purpose of using the headphone hole as the air vent. IMHO

post #15 of 52

This goes against Apple's engineering philosophy of designing products that contain no moving parts.  Products with moving parts (fans, HDDs, Optical Drives, etc) have a higher rate of break/failure.

post #16 of 52

No, not at all. The same innards, with lesser power consumption. Cool, eh?

post #17 of 52
Apple has alternatives to fans, and how hot can a iPhone get?
post #18 of 52

Today I read an article that asked if it was really necessary to have such powerful processors inside a cellphone. The race to the most powerful spec is typically what Samsung and others try to do. Apple sometimes seems to want to play the same game unfortunately. The iPhone 4 was already very fast. The difference between the 4 and 5 isn't that important in terms of speed. Sure the 5 is a lot faster, but the 4 wasn't unusable. Current processors give their full power only a few intensive games, so what's the point beside that. A phone with a fan? What for? Uggh

post #19 of 52
I don't think this idea will have the vibrate motor whirring away every time the fan is on. It sounds to me that it's just the same motor but with the clutch position changed to include/exclude the off-balance weight of the vibrate mechanism.

Quote:
Originally Posted by GTR View Post

Personally, I'm not a big fan of this idea.

Look what you started.

Quote:
Originally Posted by OllieWallieWhiskers View Post

it's pretty smart to use the existing headphone jack as the vent. still, i hope Apple can keep their iDevices fan-less.
where there be fans, there be dust.

But Apple doesn't invent anything¡

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post #20 of 52
That's cool. The mobile CPU war is heating up. This patent is a new twist in the evolution of post-PCs into PCs. 1biggrin.gif

"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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"Apple should pull the plug on the iPhone."

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post #21 of 52
Unless Apple seals and waterproofs those same future iDevices to the IP-68 standard, then I won't be purchasing them since such a design would also make it impossible for case manufacturers to make their cases to meet the IP-68 standard. There is a reason that every iDevice my family has are in LifeProof cases.
post #22 of 52
Originally Posted by Curtis Hannah View Post
Apple has alternatives to fans, and how hot can a iPhone get?

 

1000

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #23 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rennaisance View Post

Samsung are right now assigning their most *fanatical* engineers to implement this first.


Microsoft is way ahead on this front. Just make it really thick, heavy as hell, and then use just a regular fan from an old pc... voila!

na na na na na...
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na na na na na...
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post #24 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by ifij775 View Post

I read somewhere that the iPad 4 is cooler, but I'm not sure how they verified it

 

My 4 just arrived, I will update you in 2 weeks. I'll PM you, I just put it on Calendar.

Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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Citing unnamed sources with limited but direct knowledge of the rumoured device - Comedy Insider (Feb 2014)
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post #25 of 52
As processing power in ARM chips gets better, something has to give. Chips will either need bigger heat sincs or forced air cooling. This is something the Intel boys found out years ago and ARM is just now going through. It will be interesting to see how long they can live without cooling.

Personally I think there is a limit to the amount of performance we can expect from a small package and battery size.
post #26 of 52

This looks like something Apple might patent and sit on so other companies can't use a fan without infringing on their IP.  I just can't see them having a fan... but then again I never thought the iPad Mini would happen.

post #27 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by ClemyNX View Post

Today I read an article that asked if it was really necessary to have such powerful processors inside a cellphone. The race to the most powerful spec is typically what Samsung and others try to do. Apple sometimes seems to want to play the same game unfortunately. The iPhone 4 was already very fast. The difference between the 4 and 5 isn't that important in terms of speed. Sure the 5 is a lot faster, but the 4 wasn't unusable. Current processors give their full power only a few intensive games, so what's the point beside that. A phone with a fan? What for? Uggh

 

Here, allow me to paraphrase your statement:

Quote:
Technology only progresses so video games can get better, so there's no point in making further progress because I can already do everything I want to do on my phone.

 

That's dumb.  We're lucky that video games exist as they do, aggressively pushing the bleeding edge forward due to an insatiable thirst for raw computational power, else we wouldn't have nice things like iPhones that are so very far from being unusable.

 

While video games may be in a particularly advantageous position to make the greatest use of gains in raw computational power, and while this may not be your particular use case for your iPhone, this does not preclude the practical use of said gains in power by any other application that you may or may not use.  Many of the most elegantly simple apps that we love and use every day have terribly complex algorithms that utilize increasingly elaborate frameworks to provide immersive UI environments and they, too, regularly find a need for more power.  For example, the Facebook app is looking pretty slick these days with a very simple interface that was entirely rewritten in native code for optimum performance and it still lags sometimes.

 

It is critical to Apple's success (and every other company's as Apple continues to raise the bar) that the countless swipes, fades, transitions, or other graphical executions are smooth and responsive.  The iPhone isn't about being usable, it's about being the best possible solution to a problem.  In fact, a number of problems.

 

P.S. While Samsung races to a powerful spec to improve performance (to catch up), Apple races to improve the scope of application (to make new things possible).

post #28 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by edubong View Post

uh smart? so when you connect the headphones the air vent gets blocked!
a fan that vibrates and makes noise inside a phone seems like the worse idea ever.

 

What??? Nooo!!! You see, it's gone be magical!!! :D
post #29 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by kkerst View Post

As processing power in ARM chips gets better, something has to give. Chips will either need bigger heat sincs or forced air cooling. This is something the Intel boys found out years ago and ARM is just now going through. It will be interesting to see how long they can live without cooling.
Personally I think there is a limit to the amount of performance we can expect from a small package and battery size.

 

Heat is the enemy, for both chips and batteries.  While it will be interesting to watch fan technology develop (I'd love to push one of those retina macs to hear how those new asymmetrical fans sound), I'm more interested in battery tech.  What if someone develops a cold battery that feeds on heat, effectively doubling as a heatsink?  Suddenly large battery sizes would seem justified.

post #30 of 52
Right, but then the iPad might weigh 10,000 lbs...
post #31 of 52

Hmmm..

 

May be we will soon be able to use our iPhone's as hair dryer.

post #32 of 52

Apple just submitted this patent to the patten office as an April Fool's day joke!  The patent office just released it either 7 1/4 months too late for 4 3/4 months too early!

post #33 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by aToMac View Post

@ungenio It's a little less hot. A Dutch site reviewed it.
Thermal image with iPad 3 on the left:
http://ic.tweakimg.net/ext/i/imagenormal/1352213288.jpeg
http://tweakers.net/reviews/2809/3/de-nieuwste-ipad-met-de-snellere-a6x-soc-de-processor-en-gpu-getest.html

Do they give a number? Normally thermal photos have a color / temperature scale.

I don't see fans being used in phones and tablets. People whine about iPads getting hot, they might have gotten a defective one, or they're being needlessly hyperbolic. My 3rd gen iPad doesn't even get above slightly warm on me, and even the defective iPad 3s were nowhere nearly as hot as a normal laptop often gets, I wonder if any of those users had even used a laptop computer.

I had an iPhone 4 suddenly run hot a month after purchase, I exchanged it for a new one and never had a problem in the two years since.
Edited by JeffDM - 11/8/12 at 10:21am
post #34 of 52

Judging by how powerful these things are getting, this one doesn't come as a surprise. A decade from now, you'll be holding a server computer that's also a 4-inch smartphone. They're getting all too powerful.

post #35 of 52
Originally Posted by zeromeus View Post
Apple just submitted this patent to the patten office as an April Fool's day joke!  The patent office just released it either 7 1/4 months too late for 4 3/4 months too early!

 

See, this is the kind of humor I like. Don't lay it out there—make me think; make me draw connections. 


Originally Posted by jpadhiyar View Post
They're getting all too powerful.

 

"640k ought to be…" Well, you get it. They'll get more powerful. That doesn't in any way demand active cooling. Passive cooling is becoming ever more impressive, anyway.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
Reply
post #36 of 52

This is a terrible idea. I don't give a crap about how powerful the CPUs are in the future. If they can't make it 100% quiet, then I'll happily take the fanless, slightly less powerful model. I can't stand fans and even the slightest noise is unacceptable.

 

I'm currently on my Macbook, and while I think that it's a great machine, the fan is pretty damn annoying when it kicks in. Screw fans.


Edited by Apple ][ - 11/8/12 at 11:20am
post #37 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestKeptSecret View Post

You'd end up with a paradox - a guy who is a fan of the fan will be an Apple fandroid!


That's not a paradox. It just doesn't make sense.

post #38 of 52
Absolute nonsense.

J.
post #39 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by Apple ][ View Post

This is a terrible idea. I don't give a crap about how powerful the CPUs are in the future. If they can't make it 100% quiet, then I'll happily take the fanless, slightly less powerful model. I can't stand fans and even the slightest noise is unacceptable.

I'm currently on my Macbook, and while I think that it's a great machine, the fan is pretty damn annoying when it kicks in. Screw fans.

MacBook Airs are quite (quiet) powerful nowadays.

J.
Edited by jnjnjn - 11/8/12 at 12:15pm
post #40 of 52
Quote:
Originally Posted by jnjnjn View Post


MacBook Airs are quite (quiet) powerful nowadays.
J.

I'm sure that the newer Airs are fine.

 

I was referring to my older Macbook which I was using.

 

When my Macbook dies, my next laptop will be a Macbook Air, the small one.

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