Rumor: Apple tweaking iPad design to fix overheating issue

A pair of reports from Asia claim that Apple is looking to tweak the new iPad with a re-worked LED backlight and a revised battery. The new SKU is reportedly meant to address the overheating woes which blew up shortly following the launch, due to criticism by Consumer Reports

The notoriously unreliable DigiTimes first reported on Tuesday, citing unnamed supply chain sources, that Apple is working on a “small revision” to the new iPad with a re-worked battery and an enlarged lens hole.

The sources said the new iPad’s battery is being revised, which will help prevent overheating issues and could possibly make the device slightly lighter and thinner than previously designed. However, no comments were offered as to why the lens is being enlarged.

And another report from today has it that the company is considering reverting back to a single-LED backlight to reduce heat emission. The current iPad 3 uses a dual-LED bar design because pixels on its Retina display are packed so dense that more power is needed to beam the light through. However, two LED bars consume additional power and contribute to heat emission.

The extra LED is reportedly adding to overheating and that using one LED will help solve overheating issues since more backlights along with more power to heat those backlights is causing overheating.

And if the sources are to be trusted, the one LED backlight module won’t affect luminosity and clarity of the Retina display.

The trade publication also mentions a report by the Chinese-language Apple Daily claiming the upgraded iPad will also feature power-efficient IGZO (indium gallium zinc oxide) panel made by Sharp. The revised hardware is said to be coming around the holiday season.

Given DigiTimes’ track record, I wouldn’t read too much into these reports. Also, Apple did say that the new iPad “operates well within our thermal specifications” so why bother reworking it if the overheating reports were overblown?

On the other hand, it sure would be prudent of Apple to address some of the teething problems with the new iPad. Minor under-the-hood tweaks to the shipping hardware are the norm in this industry. Sony, for example, will reportedly launch a new PlayStation model featuring more power-friendly chips and a slimmer appearance.

At a certain threshold, manufacturers really start to feel the effects of the economies of scale so any hardware optimization. Even the slightest decrease in bill of materials can easily translate into millions and millions of production dollars saved.

If this rumors proves true, don’t expect a revised iPad 3 to be pompously announced or even acknowledged with a press release. As is the case with other Apple products, namely Macs, the company will simply issue a new SKU and pump it into the channel.

It would be nice if the iPad 3 emitted a bit less heat, wouldn’t it?