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Quad-core Android phone keeps cool with water pipe

May 15, 2013  |  Eric Brown
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NEC has announced an Android smartphone that uses a water-cooling system to keep its quad-core 1.7GHz Snapdragon S4 Pro system-on-chip (SOC) from overheating. The NEC Medias X 06E integrates a liquid cooling pipe near the SOC to cool off the 4.7-inch phone, which is being marketed at Japanese women.

Liquid cooling has been used in high-performance gaming computers and mission-critical embedded gear, but as far as we know, the Medias X 06E is the first commercial smartphone to use the technology.



NEC’s Medias X 06E smartphone looks normal enough

 

As reported first on The Verge, the phone is equipped with a water-filled heatpipe, as well as a graphite sheet that runs parallel to the motherboard, thereby drawing heat away from the Qualcomm Snapdragon S4 Pro SOC.



Medias X 06E heat flow illustrations
(click images to enlarge)

Improved power management and hardware design have largely kept complaints about overheated smartphones to a minimum, but with more cores comes more heat. Lately, there have been increasing reports of overheating on the new wave of quad-core phones, including the Snapdragon S4 Pro-based LG/Google Nexus 4 and Optimus G, the Nvidia Tegra 3-fueled HTC One X, and the overseas version of the Samsung Galaxy S 4, which uses the Samsung Exynos 5 octa-core Big.Little processor. Overheating typically occurs when running 3D-intensive applications like games.

Overheating still ranks below consumer concerns like battery life, weight, and thickness, but the problem seems to be growing. Although the overheating reports do not usually mention reliability problems, it’s not only an issue of comfort. Like most other quad-core SOCs, the S4 Pro throttles down the speed when it begins to overheat. NEC claims that its cooling system minimizes this performance reduction.

No doubt, NEC’s market research discovered that Japanese women are particularly concerned with the heat issue. The Medias X 06E is aimed directly at this demographic, offering sleek styling, pink and white color choices, and a jewel-like, light-up pendant accessory that juts up from the top to indicate incoming calls. Otherwise, this is a powerhouse quad-core smartphone featuring a 4.7-inch 720p OLED screen and a 13.1-megapixel camera.

The NEC Medias X 06E will be available in Japan in June, says NEC. More information may be found at the Medias X 06E product page.
 

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