Future Apple iPhones, iPads may have internal fans

in General Discussion edited January 2014
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 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.

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.


  • Reply 1 of 53
    gtrgtr Posts: 3,231member
    Personally, I'm not a big fan of this idea.
  • Reply 2 of 53
    mobiusmobius Posts: 380member
    Here come the Apple Fan Boyz...
  • Reply 3 of 53

    Sounds fantastic!

  • Reply 4 of 53

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

  • Reply 5 of 53
    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?
  • Reply 6 of 53
    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.
  • Reply 7 of 53
    philboogiephilboogie Posts: 7,675member
  • Reply 8 of 53

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

  • Reply 10 of 53
    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.
  • Reply 11 of 53
    ifij775ifij775 Posts: 470member
    I read somewhere that the iPad 4 is cooler, but I'm not sure how they verified it
  • Reply 12 of 53
    lilgto64lilgto64 Posts: 1,147member


    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. 


  • Reply 13 of 53
    bedouinbedouin Posts: 331member
    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.
  • Reply 14 of 53

    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


  • Reply 15 of 53

    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.

  • Reply 16 of 53

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

  • Reply 17 of 53
    Apple has alternatives to fans, and how hot can a iPhone get?
  • Reply 18 of 53
    clemynxclemynx Posts: 1,552member

    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

  • Reply 19 of 53
    solipsismxsolipsismx Posts: 19,566member
    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.

    gtr wrote: »
    Personally, I'm not a big fan of this idea.

    Look what you started.

    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¡
  • Reply 20 of 53
    That's cool. The mobile CPU war is heating up. This patent is a new twist in the evolution of post-PCs into PCs. :D
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