iPhone 15 is too hot to handle – and not in any good way

Influencers offer smouldering looks, analysts wonder if TSMC-fabbed silicon can take the heat

Apple's iPhone 15 is so hot right now, just not in the way that Apple would prefer.

After only a week on sale, forums and message boards are full of claims that iPhone 15 models are too hot to hold or are at least warmer than the range of air temperatures – 0° to 35°C (32° to 95°F) – that Apple recommends for iPhone usage.

Reddit, for example, is full of recent threads with people claiming their new iPhones run very hot. Similar reports can be are found in Apple's iPhone discussion forum.

Apple iPhone 15 Pro

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Mohit Verma, who identifies himself as "social media influencer," has posted a video that purports to show his iPhone running at a temperature as high as 42°C (107.6°F). Others have conducted their own tests showing iPhones operating at around 40°C, or less, and argue that's not too hot.

One Reddit user has posted an image appearing to show a temperature of 42.2°C (108°F) and writes the following about an iPhone 15 Pro Max: "It gets so hot that I’m afraid to touch it and it hurts my leg in my pocket."

It's not just the "like and subscribe" set making these claims. Reports in The Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg have also cited consumer concerns about the toasty iPhone 15 line.

But the challenge here is that similar reports can be found with other iPhone models, most recently the iPhone 14, which has also been observed to be a noted pocket warmer. And there is also this recent claim about an iPhone 12 Pro pushing the temperature envelope at 45°C (113°F). It's unclear whether the iPhone 15 is just running workloads that tax its processor, or if the heat is on due to a flaw in hardware, software, or battery chemistry.

Smouldering smartphones are not a fanciful concern. Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 became notorious in 2016 when some caught fire when charging. The United States Federal Aviation Administration warned the device should not be taken on planes.

To assure people's safety, Samsung went so far as to brick the fire-prone devices with a software update. Apple iPhones have also occasionally been known to combust.

Ming-Chi Kuo, an Apple supply chain analyst with Taiwan-based investment firm TF International Securities, published a post on Medium that argues TSMC's 3nm A17 chips are not to blame.

"The primary cause is more likely the compromises made in the thermal system design to achieve a lighter weight, such as the reduced heat dissipation area and the use of a titanium frame, which negatively impacts thermal efficiency," said Kuo. "It’s expected that Apple will address this through software updates, but improvements may be limited unless Apple lowers processor performance."

Kuo said if Apple fails to address this issue, it could reduce iPhone 15 shipments.

The Register asked Apple to comment and we've not had a response.

Apple could, if it chose, extinguish this firestorm by dismissing claims about its latest iPhone as anecdotal and statistically insignificant. But it has not done so, perhaps out of concern for saying something that could come back to haunt the company during the swarm of class action lawsuits that invariably follow allegations of faulty devices. ®

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