updated 03:45 pm EDT, Tue March 20, 2012
LTE, battery, processor among possible causes
(Updated with results) Consumer Reports is looking into anecdotes of third-gen iPads running unusually hot, Reuters reports. The publication says it will announce results on Tuesday after conducting a series of tests. While not everyone with an iPad has noticed the problem, affected iPads may grow several degrees hotter on one side, making it uncomfortable if still bearable to hold.
A few potential causes have been suggested by iPad owners, such as the LTE radio or the tablet's A5X processor. The CEO of iFixit, Kyle Wiens, argues that because the battery in the new iPad is 70 percent bigger but offers the same battery life (up to 10 hours), it will naturally generate more heat. Apple has so far dismissed concerns, pointing out that the iPad functions "well within" official thermal specifications.
Consumer Reports has otherwise been positive about the new tablet, claiming that it's "shaping up as the best tablet yet." The magazine has sometimes been critical of Apple in the past, most famously spurring the "antennagate" controversy which led Apple to hand out free cases to iPhone 4 owners.
Update: The results of testing are in, and Consumer Reports suggests that the new iPad can potentially run as hot as 116F, even higher than the 92.5F reported in benchmarking elsewhere. The figure is also above the 95F ambient maximum stated by Apple, and 13 degrees hotter than an iPad 2 when running Infinity Blade II for 45 minutes. For the purposes of testing, the new iPad was propped up with a Smart Cover, and had LTE turned off but Wi-Fi turned on in a room with an ambient temperature of about 72F.
Despite the excessive heat, CR says the hardware continued be usable. "When it was at its hottest, it felt very warm but not especially uncomfortable if held for a brief period," the publication writes. A more serious issue may be battery drain, as even though the iPad was plugged in, the battery kept draining so long as Infinity Blade II was running. Stopping the game resumed normal charging.