New iPad: heat test

New iPad hot or not temperature test

Does the new iPad actually get warm when it's being put to heavy use? One blogger, a meat thermometer, an oven mitt, and a pair of tongs aim to find out!

Consumer Reports decided to see if it could once again repeat it's infamous iPhone 4 antennagate traffic and media bookings by cooking up a little new iPad controversy -- which we're dubbing warmgate. So, we thought we here at iMore, thought we'd test things for ourselves. Totally unscientifically, of course.

I grabbed a kitchen thermometer, and just in case the interweb linkbait was right, an oven mitt and some tongs to prevent burning or bursting into flame. Then I got to measuring. While a digital meat thermometer might not be the best way to track the heat radiating from a computing appliance, I figured at least it'd be consistently not the best. The thermometer started off reading 28° C (82.4 °F).

Over the course of 40 minutes I watched YouTube videos and 1080p iTunes movie trailers on both Rogers LTE and Wi-Fi, and I played first person shooters, racing games, and fighting games, both on the iPad itself and via AirPlay Mirroring to an Apple TV. While the temperate did rise from a cold start of 30° C (86 °F) to a high of 35° C, at most it was warm to the touch along the left edge (if held in portrait orientation with the Home button at the bottom). That while powering a 2048x1536 Retina panel, firing an LTE radio, and shooting graphics from a quad-core Apple A5X GPU, all in a package almost exactly the same size as last year's iPad.

To get a sense of how big of a deal those temperatures might be, I next measured an iPhone 4S that was tethering a MacBook Pro while also using Google Maps. After about 5 min it hit 35° C, the same temperate as the iPad had reached. (Anecdotally, I've had my iPhone 4S get much hotter after longer periods of tethering -- or when roaming and desperately trying to find usable radio signal.)

Lastly, I put my MacBook Pro down just for fun and started up a Flash video. Anyone who's watched any amount of Flash video on a MacBook of any kind knows the old joke about it being hot enough to fry an egg really isn't a joke. So it's no surprise the thermometer quickly hit 38° C. (Though the MacBook Pro feels much much hotter than either the iPad or iPhone.)

So what does this all tell me? The new iPad certainly gets warmer than the original iPad or iPad 2, but it's only because those past generation devices stayed so freakishly cool that I can even notice. The new iPad was no warmer than current or previous iPhones, and certainly nowhere near as hot to the touch (or the lap!) as MacBook Pros have traditionally been.

Sure, there could be outliers or defective iPad units out there that are getting way too hot, just like there are outliers and defective units of every device. This is especially true when first launched and manufacturing processes are new (if you have one of those, contact Apple customer care or make a Genius Bar appointment). However, While there have been a lot of jokes about the MacBook Pro playing Flash, and I'm sure people have noticed and noted the iPhone's propensity for heating up under high radio or GPS load in the past, the mainstream headlines about iPad heat issues come off as more than a little reckless.

Unless and until there are widespread, documented reports of the new iPad experiencing performance problems due to heat, this is a non-story and no one who wants one should hesitate to buy one.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, ZEN and TECH, MacBreak Weekly. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter,, Google+.

More Posts



← Previously

Have the entire world at your fingertips with Barefoot World Atlas for iPad

Next up →

Quickly and easily build an organized collection of recipes with Basil —A Smart Recipe Book For iPad

There are 62 comments. Add yours.

CamKrohn says:

Ive been using my iPad for about 3 hrs straight now games, web browsing, YouTube and I don't feel any heat all.

RodneyJ725 says:

This has been my experience as well. I've seen no heat up any different from my iPad 1 (I never owned the iPad 2).

iPhoneMilk says:

Mine doesn't get hot either, another story blown WAY out of proportion by the Android crowd- Apparently this is their idea of Competing, instead of just countering the product they flail their arms around in the air like cry babies and blow stories up on the internet in an attempt to bring down a Well made apple product.

williamsbh76 says:

I can almost agree. I tested mine against my iPad2 watching Youtube videos and I noticed a little difference but just barely and surely nothing to get upset over. My 4s has definitely gotten hotter! I say if a little heat is the only sacrifice we have to make to get all the performance enhancements that the new iPad gives us then so be it! Haters go hate somewhere else!

Guest says:

Warm to the touch is not a concern - the only thing that matters is if the heat impacts the performance of the unit. Anecdotally, at least, a few users in Texas and California have reported that when using their ipad outside in the sun, it has over heated and shut down, requiring a cool down period of up to an hour before it could be restarted. That is the story to watch - if those cases are reproducible, or just odd statistical outliers.

Rene Ritchie says:

iPhone's have done that in Arizona and other hot locations before. iOS has long had a built in heat warning screen and shut off.

Chris Parsons says:

Tis' true.. I've had my iPhone shut off plenty of times in AZ.

Janet. says:

I live in Tucson, I have never had my iPhone 3GS, 4, and 4s shut down. My new iPad hasn't gotten hot. I don't understand the news I heard on Telly about the new iPad heating up. I've had a lot apps running as well.
I just wanted to share my experience.

Dev says:

True enough -- the only real questions are:
1) Will this happen to the new iPad more often than on the iPad 2 (or iPhone models)?
2) Will this happen often enough to impact usage/enjoyment of the device?
Apple only has a problem if the answer to both of these is a statistically significant yes.
That said, we should not handwave this away as a non-issue; I do not live far from Eliot Kroo, and it was perhaps 75 degrees out when he hit the shutdown screen/cooldown period while reading in the sunlight. I have been taking my iPad 1 and my iPhones to San Diego beaches and desert trails for years without ever having seen the overheating screen.
But there needs to be a whole lot more data collected before anybody can claim this is a significant problem.

Spelling Nazi says:

I've had my phone shut down due to excessive heat AND cold. Both ends of the spectrum!

Redshirt says:

Shut down due to cold? How cold was it? I'm curious, haven't seen that yet.

SteveW928 says:

There is also the issue component/board fatigue, especially if the heat is concentrated around certain components. The regulations which changed the type of solder used has made equipment much more susceptible to problems caused by larger heat swings or board flex, etc. So, this doesn't mean there will be problems for certain, but that there could be a difference between the iPad 2 and 3 in long-term reliability.
One of the reasons I actually went with my iPad2 over a new laptop is because laptops (in general, or electronic devices in general actually) have become much less reliable than they used to be... especially ones that have big heat swings. My last two laptops began to flake out within 4-years of their purchase. One died, the other is still limping along. Both are GPU heat-related as far as I can tell. That is totally unlike any Apple products I've purchased over the last 20+ years.
But, like I said above, this isn't just an Apple problem, it is an electronics industry problem. I've had the same issues things like home theatre receivers and video game consoles. I also have a friend who does a lot of 'reflowing' of circuit boards to repair them and he has seen the same trend, both with his own equipment and with repairs.
Hopefully a lot of electronics get recycled properly, or this has been a huge boondoggle of a trade-off environmentally. They have improved the solder, but if it means landfills full of devices, that's hardly an improvement as far as I can see. I'm sure the electronics industry doesn't mind people having to buy new stuff more often (and a very negative impact on used sales, as more people get burned by flaky or quickly dying used things they buy).

Jtyler says:

That is right! The new iPad is not too warm. Its just that "only because those past generation devices stayed so freakishly cool that I can even notice". That is right! The new iPad screen is not that clear. It's just that only because the past generation devices don't have enough pixels. Well done! Carry on

9thwonder says:

my iphone rarely gets hot but i'm not the sort that just sits using it for hours for except maybe for music. But that's rare. my old hp laptop on the other hand got hot enough to nearly burn. Never again will i get a device that is similar so i hope ipad stuff can be sorted out. Not that i'm getting one anytime soon. Hell i'm unlikely to even get this version now that i think about it so it's probably not an issue for me.

west3man says:

I can agree with the advice to go for it until and unless reports of Apple hot plates are more widespread. I cannot get with those that claim that it is just not a problem, the way that many claimed that antennagate was blown out-of-proportion despite the fact that Apple reversed their cavalier response, issued bumper, reimbursements, refunds, class action payments, and an antenna redesign. Consumer Reports was apparently being alarmist and linkbaiting by addressing this reality. Many of us do not live in areas with the amazing signals that some apparently enjoy. If something negatively affects reception significantly on a device that has a fair to poor network connection (say, due to geography or distance from a tower) then that is significant for a hell of a lot of people.
"But my friends and I had no problem," doesn't cut it.

NetMage says:

One problem is "many of us" was appaerently less than 5%

west3man says:

1) What's your source?
2) I will admit to not knowing what percentage is the limit. 10% is certainly too high. One out of every ten phones is ridiculous. Half of that number may or ay not be too many but it sure sounds significant. What percentage would you say is the limit?

cardfan says:

It is a nonstory. But consumer reports loves the hits. It's the only time they get any. I'm sure their next move will be to not recommend it after they said how great it was.

Joe says:

Disappointed with the related Consumer Reports article because it failed to make a comparison with modern laptops and even desktop computers. As far as laptops go, Leveno ThinkPads tend to be among the best and Dell laptops among the worst at controlling heat.

Nathan says:

Is this being blown out of proportion like iPhone 4 anntena?
Also is there that many people use iPad naked. Haven't use mine much yet because I want a really good case. When I do I baby it.

Inappropriate Response says:

i agree this is a non story, but antennagate was a real issue for people in low signal areas, (lots of people). My iphone 4 was unusable without a bumper/case.. and that is an issue. It boils down to be a problem if the said device is not usable due to the problem. If it's too hot to hold then it's a problem, if you can't make calls, .., it's a problem.

squirble says:

Don't have an iPad but my iPhone 4S as well as my old iPhone 4 gets really hot when playing games or streaming netflix. Not every game but Infinity Blade to be more specific. I also use an app called Stream to Me and it gets hot when that is in use as well.

DARK_BLU says:

You're just holding it wrong. :-) Hold it like iPad2 users do and everything will be fine. :-D (KIDDING).

Macboy74 says:

Mine doesn't get warm or hit under any kind of use. Now people are saying their having problems with wifi. Lol

zwanneman says:

A-ha... what a great way to heat things up

Carioca32 says:

Ironically, Rene was one of the first to bring up this heat issue right here on iMore. Not a linkbait then? Why deride Consumer Reports now?
But then again when I read "interweb linkbait" I just knew what would be the tone of the post and the results of the tests. Seriously, a meat thermometer? Those are designed to be precise at much higher temperatures. I'm not saying there is a real story here, but this post is borderline meaningless.

Rene Ritchie says:

If you can't tell the difference between an enthusiast site like iMore asking its community if they had any heat issues (without assuming they did), and a supposedly authoritative consumer review and watchdog institution like CR grabbing for Apple headlines again, then I'll just assume you're trolling and wish you good luck with that. And good day. (I said good day!)

CamrioKid says:

Appropriate response, Rene..;. good for you. I really enjoyed the piece.

Carioca32 says:

What I meant is that if you meant to call Consumer Reports or the whole heat issue to task, you should have used a proper thermometer, and done the tests in a more scientific fashion. As it stands, nothing was proved.
iMore asked its community about the heat because you felt it, and wanted to know if other people were having the same issue. What I meant is that iMore was one of the first websites to even mention the heat problem, and inadvertedly contributed to the whole situation. Consumer Reports is just following the trend started, among other places here, and likewise at the Apple Support forums with reports of iPads shutting of.
In the eyes of Apple fans Consumer Reports have turned into an evil organization since the iPhone 4 antenna problem, a real problem BTW, one that I particularly still struggle with. Consumer Reports did not invent the story, nor is it blowing it out of proportion. It is a possible issue and it is being investigated. In fact there is an article today on their website basically stating that it is no big deal.
You guys do a great job here, but not such a good job listening to criticism. Some of you readers are more critic than others, it comes with the territory. It is all constructive, if a bit acid at times. No disrespect or trolling meant, just calling as I saw it.

Rene Ritchie says:

I don't mind criticism; I value it. But critical thinking is a back and forth. If you criticize something, I'll probe it and see if there's real value. It's process.
I wasn't doing a scientific test (it says so plainly, many times). I was lampooning CR because, as good as they are, they got a taste of attention with the antenna story (which was real, and which affected me too), and seem to have decided they value that attention.
They put no context in their report -- iPad is warm, compared to what?
So we poked a little fun back.
I think it was well deserved.
(And I appreciate the feedback)

SteveW928 says:

Rene, I haven't seen the CR story, so I don't have the context to know what they said or how they said it. But, read my response to post #2, as I do feel it is something people should know about. Your test with a kitchen probe on the outside of the case doesn't really indicate what might be going on concerning the board inside, especially at the CPU/GPU, and more specifically, in comparison to the iPad2. Given that the solder no being used in electronics is more brittle, how much heat swing, board flex, etc. CAN have a fairly major impact on long-term reliability. It probably won't be an issue for iPads, but is nice to know about. (For example, I picked an iPad over a new laptop, partly for long-term reliability hopes. Or, I've picked lower clock-speed products over their more souped-up versions, specifically for reliability reasons. It's a good thing to know as a consumer.)

Rene Ritchie says:

Mine was done as, and presented as, humor. :)

stewm says:

Well said. Every time Apple launches a product we have a swathe of the media that over emphasize an issue.
I am sure that if people are consistently having issues with their device over heating that Apple would exchange the product.
My iPad 2 has always gotten 'warm' and sometimes hotter than 47 degrees, but I have always taken it in my stride, I live in the desert and from March to November/December it can be 100 degrees outside. I still have my iPad 2 and if it feels too warm to have on my lap or in my hand then I turn it off and do something else.
I am sure that once people lose the initial 'novelty factor' that a new device has their usage will drop and people will not notice their units over heating anymore. Then they will say that the problem magically vanished!

Icebox says:

Have tou read the original story at CR? It
is not alarmist, and simply reports the test they did, and what they found. Your conspiratorial tone is misplaced. They test scads of products, reporting unusual things, and would survive without apple stories just fine, just as they did for years before. Why should we doubt their story -- that there were anecdotal reports of heat, and so they decided to test it? So they played inifinity blade 2 for 45 minutes and got temps of 46.67 C/116 F when charging and 45 C/113 F when not. They stated that heat was not even, concentrated in the corner. That's more than your meat thermometer test, but do you think they made up these numbers?
Why do their tests get picked up by mainstream media while bloggers with thermal imagers and meat thermometers don't? Because they are a bigger, well-known organization that has earned a trustworthy rep over the long term. After reading the original story at CR, I don't see anything that changes this.

9thwonder says:

well on sites like this precentral, andoridcentral etc. you have largely fanboys. sorry but it's true. And they aren't impartial. Doesn't mean they are always wrong but they aren't impartial. Go read the precentral forums, it's the most delusional, biased, site of fanboy commenting i've heard. And Rene is an admitted fanboy so it should be expected to some degree.

Rene Ritchie says:

I'm no such thing. I don't believe in being "fans" of a company -- I believe companies should be "fans" of their customers and competing fiercely for our business.
I used to be all Microsoft, including PC, Windows Mobile, Xbox, etc. Vista made me reassess. Now I have Macs, iOS, and a PS3 + Sony TV.
Using the term "fanboy" disqualifies you from any serious discussion about anything. It's cheap. It's lazy.
Make an argument. Do something great.
(And don't feed the trolls :) )

9thwonder says:

Fanboy is 1000% appropriate. Truth hurts. And what's not lazy about a beef thermometer. fanboy just means your not impartial and the only people mad at the term fanboy are actual fanboys and thus those that are not impartial. Sorry the shoe fits. And you've long ago destroyed any image of impartiality. I'm not saying you don't use other platforms just you have an extreme pro apple slant and whether it's antenna, patent fights or Foxconn suicides you tend to end up on the Apple did no wrong side. I'm just smart enough not to expect impartiality. If i want impartiality i go somewhere else other then mobile nations or at least i don't got to webosnation. If it's any consolation imore community is monumentally less biased and deluded then the webos community.

CamrioKid says:

Even though this was a non-scientific test done with common kitchen tools, I think this was a great article...alleviated my "fears" about the NewPad being too hot...thanks, iMore...y'all are awesome.

west3man says:

I looked at the article again and I have watched iMore regularly since the release.
I see nothing here to substantiate the claim that Consumer Reports is linkbaiting.

Augustus says:

Rene r u suggesting than as the above article says "like there are outliers and defective units of every device. This is especially true when first launched and manufacturing processes are new (if you have one of those, contact Apple customer care or make a Genius Bar appointment". This could be because the First Batch of production are more likely to have these kind of Defects like the one also with Backlight Bleeding ?

Rene Ritchie says:

I'm just saying that, in general and for every device and vendor, the first batch of products can often be more challenging. There's nothing like 10 million people hitting your product to find every little issue.
Why some people only ever buy later in cycle or generation. (MacBooks often get this rep, right or wrong).

Augustus says:

So subsequent supply of units will not have this over heating issues and backlight bleeding issues ? As it would have been addressed in production?

Rene Ritchie says:

I'm not saying current ones have either of those issues. I bought an iPad 2 on day one and had no issues, and I've had no issues with my iPad 3.
Sometimes you buy a dozen eggs, ones broken in the box. You return it and get another box.
Same is true of any product.

Augustus says:

Can uguys do a article to ensure how does one not get a Backlight Bleeding unit.

Winski says:

Some folks just NEED something to whine about..... the REAL answer is "WHO CARES" ?????????????

JohnPA2006 says:

As soon as apple programmers come out with a firmware update to underclock the quad core graphics chip just enough to get rid of the high temp issue then it will be fixed.
For now they will get a bit warm. This is what happens when you put unventilated quad core graphics into a sealed metal and glass tablet.
And for the record I love my iPad 2, and still would love to get an ipad3

JohnPA2006 says:

Also even when underclocked the quad core gpu still is ridiculously fast.
Because unless they do a mass recall which they won't this is the only fix.
It may be a small percentage experiencing this but it is happening.
If you pay 500 for something that shows you an error related to temperature then shuts down, your going to be pissed.

stewm says:

It's just a storm in a tea cup over nothing. People wanted the retina display for the iPad, they got it and now they are complaining because the display backlighting is pushing out more heat and that the four core GPU gives off heat.
All devices give off heat if they are used for an extended time. Not a big deal, the original blackberry storm always had people complaining of it shutting down because it would get too hot especially if it was doing something processor intensive.
Let's face it, you take a floor lamp with double bulb, put two low power CFL's into it and turn on one bulb, it will give off a little heat, turn on the second bulb it will give more heat. Take the same lamp and do the same in a broom closet then it will get hot in there, and fast!
Similarly 'the New iPad' has the same issue, it is using the back case to dissipate the heat. If there was a real issue with getting TOO hot then there would be reports of the glass screen raising up and coming away.
Laptops get hot, much hotter and they use fan's to draw heat out of the case. When I hear reports of someone's 'nads being fried while using the New iPad then I will worry about the reports of the heat.

Richard says:

I've noticed no heat build-up in my new iPad. It runs as cool as the iPad 1 it replaced.

9thwonder says:

even though yesterday i wrote my iphone doesn't get hot. It fricken did yesterday when i had it on for about an hour playing poker as i watch "Game Change." it got pretty hot. i eventually layed it on the couch in between hands.

AndroidArmageddon says:

I have a iPad 2 and play book.
I was surprised when I played with the new iPad demo how warm it felt on the left hand side. I played with another model it didn't have any heating problems. Today I saw another demo and it was slightly warm on the right hand side but not hot like my MacBook pro which I had to buy an aluminum stand for so it doesn't overheat! The ipad3 doesn't get any hotter than the blackberry play book does. While I don't own an ipad3 I don't think the 35 degrees would stop me from buying one. I opted for an iPad 2 because it is thinner and was on sale when the new iPad was announced. I like to wait while the first batch from the assembly line gets all the bugs ironed out by the early adopters..

jcvallecillo says:

Rene I have a question for you did u made this test with ur brightness full 100% or at 85% , my iPad is really better since I down my brightness to 85% but on full is really hot to keep it on hand .

Me2 says:

Are you kidding me? You know that you are using the wrong type of attacment to measure hear on a flat surface. That is not a true measurment at all. You could go out and buy an infrared-laser thermometer. (Fluke)
My new ipad does get pretty hot (only compared to my iPad 2) After playing Infinity Blade II for over an hour. Not after 5 or 10 minutes.
But im kinda okay with it. The new parts have to dispense heat some

AdamChew says:

Just to give perspective to this hot issue.
96 degree fahrenheit is the human body temperature so it is hot.

Redshirt says:

I must say, Rene's lost some geek cred with me. No infrared thermometer? Disappointing...

Pharrett says:

Next iPad people will complain because it gets too cold

Herminia Mrvan says:

I searched exactly for this information. Thank you for sharing it.

Racheal Scheel says:

Thanks ! , but your'e? so talkative !!

Kristyn Cedotal says:

I hadn't heard of Cydia before I read this blog but it looks really good! Like really really good! Its amazing what phones can do these days!

Velma Wittstruck says:

Cool, just downloaded another update. This time you did your best, new features are awesome. ;D