back to article Overheating iPhone 6S+ BLINDED my cam, cries flashgate fanboy

Some Apple iPhone 6S Plus owners are complaining that their new handsets get too hot – with one bod yelling that the LED flash shuts down. Someone on Reddit posted a screenshot of an alert message the 6S Plus apparently displays when the gadget is running too warm for the flash to safely work – potentially plunging the camera …

  1. DougS Silver badge

    TSMC or Samsung?

    Apple is using two sources for the A9, maybe one version is less efficient than the other?

  2. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Trollface

    Samsung

    Glad my S5 with a quad-core processor never gets more than slightly warm. How much heat could a LED flash possibly generate to heat up the phone even more anyway? I know if I use mine as a flashlight it gets a little warm after a while, but really is a second or so of it being used as a flash going to generate much heat?

    1. Steve Evans

      Re: Samsung

      It's probably more the other way round... LED flashes used as torches (flashlights to the colonials) are driven pretty hard, and get hot... Using them for extended periods of time can kill the LED.

      So it looks like the iPhone has a thermal protection for the LED to stop you burning it out, which is nice.

      Unfortunately the phone appears to have got hot enough to trick the LED protection circuit into thinking the LED has been used extensively, even when it hasn't been used for hours, and should be given a chance to cool down... Which would mean either the phone is getting pretty damn hot in there, or the LED temperature detector is faulty or too sensitive.

      1. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

        Re: Samsung

        White LEDs are inefficient when hot but they're hardly hurt by it. I overloaded some to test what would happen if their regulator failed. Over and over again, the LEDs would unsolder themselves before suffering any noticeable harm.

        My guess is that the phone is protected with PTC fuses - little components that stop conducting while hot. They can protect against wire fire, battery damage, and overheating due to software malfunction. The downside is that they aren't a good match for modern heat tolerant components. They'd have a very downgraded current threshold in a phone.

    2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      Re: Samsung

      Could it be that it is not the LED flash itself which causes heat, but the drawing of fairly high current which could heat up the battery, push it over some programmed limit, if allowed?

  3. Chairo
    Joke

    ...was stowed away in my back pocket mostly

    She Got to Use What She Got to Get What She Wants...

  4. Fraggle850
    Joke

    It's the ghost of Steve Jobs...

    ... I gather he never did like flash.

    1. Stevie Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: It's the ghost of Steve Jobs...

      Good one. Beer for you.

  5. Sceptic Tank
    Flame

    Tell him

    Pictures or it didn't happen!

    Just thinking now: Apple really must make the camera detachable. How else will you be able to take a sellfie that shows how cool .... er, HOT you look holding your iPhone 6S Pus?

    1. Indolent Wretch

      Re: Tell him

      >> How else will you be able to take a sellfie that shows how cool .... er, HOT you look holding your iPhone 6S Plus?

      You use a mirror. Trust me must of the people with one of these phones own several and spend a lot of time looking at them.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Tell him

        "You use a mirror."

        Certain FB friends and relatives are constantly posting 'selfies' that are mirror image, judging by the reversed words on t-shirts and hats.

        I assumed it was a characteristic of certain landfill-quality Android phones.

  6. Haku
    Coat

    "We tried overheating our iPhone 6S Plus in the office, but couldn't trigger the error message."

    Try using the microwave, it'll heat up your phone much quicker and is guaranteed to stop the flash from turning on.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We tried overheating our iPhone 6S Plus in the office, but couldn't trigger the error message.

    Pics of it didn't happen. I am interested in how you did this - at present I have this picture in my head of a bunch of El Reg hack in a circle holding lighters under an iPhone, and I'm sure that can't be correct :).

    1. Haku

      Being a place filled with tech-heads, one of them must have a USB cup warmer...

    2. PNGuinn
      Go

      ... a bunch of El Reg hack in a circle...

      .... and wearing tinfoil hats ....

    3. nagyeger

      Hey, this is El Reg!

      playmobil or it didn't happen.

  8. hplasm Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    iPhone6S?

    That's hot!

    1. kain preacher Silver badge

      Re: iPhone6S?

      It's all desert in Tuscon what di you expect? Hell I'm in North en California and way have had days in 90's(30's)

  9. 404 Silver badge

    Tucson is also hot

    23 years of experience - it's quite warm...

    1. Annihilator

      Re: Tucson is also hot

      "on a (relatively) cool September day, with an outside temperature of 88F (31C)."

      Indeed.

  10. John Robson Silver badge

    The iPhone?

    I suspect that this error message isn't quite right - I don't think the Jobians ever use the definite article.

    The other messages (linked in article) say:

    "iPhone is..."

    1. Simon Harris Silver badge

      Re: The iPhone?

      The error message goes back at least as far as iOS 4.3.1 and people were commenting on it in 2011.

      https://discussions.apple.com/thread/2816726?start=0&tstart=0

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: The iPhone?

        I stand corrected - seems like a slip of corporate imaging somewhere...

  11. Big_Ted
    Angel

    I don't beleive a word of it..............

    We all know Apple test the bejesus out of all their new kit so it is as perfect the Jesus himself.

    Hey has anyone ever heard of a hardware issue with the phone such as antenna .......

    Oh right they don't test that well do they.

    Glad I never bought into the eco system

  12. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Handling issue?

    A lardy arse in the Arizona desert is probably well over 35degrees so beyond the thermal design spec for the iThing. Don't store it between your arse cheeks then try to flash at anyone ...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Handling issue?

      Also the pulsing microwaves from the mobile will cause her hot butt to warm up further (so cook the phone more) and eventually get damaged enough leading to cancer.

      The phone may bend too, so there may be the risk that the battery gets damaged, then it could get a lot hotter!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Handling issue?

      "A lardy arse in the Arizona desert is probably well over 35degrees so beyond the thermal design spec for the iThing"

      Also if the sun is shining on your trousers their outside temperature can go way above air temperature.

      This is why I use a real satnav in the car, not a phone; car satnavs are designed to work under under-windscreen conditions, which can be pretty hot. Phones are not.

      1. Fraggle850

        Re: Handling issue?

        Never really thought about that but by luck my phone is clipped to the air con vent on the dashboard so nice and cool when the weather is hot. Maybe I'd better watch out in the winter when the vents blow hot air...

  13. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

    Re. Handling issue

    Back when the 4S was running into WiFI chip FAIL, I used to reflow the thing by leaving the LED flash on for half an hour under a pillow.

    It worked for about a week like this, eventually the intervals became mere hours.

    Still got another month out of it, maybe Apple noticed the comments and added the feature to prevent this exact issue?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Re. Handling issue

      "I used to reflow the thing by leaving the LED flash on for half an hour under a pillow."

      You must be joking; do you know the melting point of solder?

      The Murata wifi IC needs reflowing at 200C, and this is a pig of a job (mainly because of the sheer number of disassembly steps to get there, but also because while reflowing you cannot test the circuit board to see if everything is working.)

      What you were actually doing is causing the components to distort slightly by applying heat and hoping that the loose leg would stay in contact after the thing cooled. It could only ever be a very short term fix.

      I suspect that at some point phone technology will become such that they are easy to repair again (the 6S seems to be better than earlier iPhones in this regard). Perhaps one day Apple will announce a new iPhone with user replaceable batteries, and everybody will think it is a new Apple invention. In the meantime there is a tradeoff - buy Apple and pay a lot for what is basically insurance (hoping that any problem that emerges will be acknowledged by Apple) or buy cheap competition and accept that if anything peculiar happens you will need to fix it yourself.

      Overall I think the big difference in design between Apple and the rest is that Apple engineers optimise the hell out of software and use compiled languages so that they can get very good performance from modest hardware, while the competition tend to stick in big batteries and fast CPUs to deal with suboptimal software. Which is very good until you run something power intensive on an iPhone, causing it to exceed its design envelope.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Re. Handling issue

        Is this "design envelope" a smaller version of the one they used to show off the MacBook Air's slimness when it came out?

      2. Conundrum1885 Bronze badge

        Re: Re. Handling issue

        Hi, just so you know I did actually dismantle the board while trying to fix this and there was evidence of multiple fractures in the solder so pretty sure that tiny areas (as in 10% or less) did get up to the eutectic point.

        Its interesting to note that the LED on the 4S does get *insanely* hot, as in >150C so really that temperature sensor obviously isn't being polled as often as it should in some modes.

        It could also be that contamination of the board (lead comes to mind) can create a ternary alloy that can cause reflowing as low as 110C and this is well known to cause problems if RoHS is mixed with non RoHS or even indium/tin at any point during production.

        This can occur with even lower levels than that specified in the REACH Directive which can be a real problem if folks use a soldering iron bit that has ever been used with lead solder or a contaminated reflow machine etc.

        Some people also heat up defective chipsets with various means and it does work though like you mention any distortion of the board breaks the now extra-brittle temporary bond and results in failure.

        Doing this more than once just makes it worse when the thing finally fails and chip needs re-balling properly as the solder is now harder to remove and lifts pads in the process.

  14. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Why not unclip the rear casing and remove the battery - the extra airflow will surely cool it down!!!

    Oh wait....

  15. tony2heads
    Joke

    New kickstarter idea!

    The iPocket, with built-in fan or optional Peltier cooling system (an towing trolley for the car battery to run the Peltier system)

  16. Harry the Bastard
    Coat

    hotgate

    (body)

  17. Jos V

    I'm not an Apple defender, nor a basher, but Apple has stated this exact thing on their support page:

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201678

    Part of the things affected when you take it out of operating temperature range? Well, as stated on that page: "The camera flash is temporarily disabled."

    I also have never been in a situation where having the availability of a flash on my phone was so critical as to complain about it publicly. You know, when you should know the operating limits of your devices when they are critical for your job.

    1. bex

      upper operating temperature

      A max of 35∘C is a pitifully low temperature for consumer products in a world that for many people can regularly get to over 40∘C

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: upper operating temperature

        Sony quote -10 to +45 for their phones; I had assumed Apple was the same or better but then I remembered early Macs being quoted as 0-35C (though they would in reality operate over a wider range.)

  18. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    In other news

    my Tomtom fell off the windscreen yesterday. Yes the sun was out and it had been sitting there for 4-5 hours. When plugged back in it said 'Device too hot. Not charging'

    so the crapple device has innovated again? (only kidding)

    It just makes sense to have this sort of circuitry in such an expensive toy. Just imagine the outcry if this was not the case and the flash was totally borked due to the heat?

    Flashgate anyone?

    Sorry, but it grieves me to say this, but Apple might be doing the right thing here.

  19. Indolent Wretch

    Flash is disabled!!

    But we only have 14 hours to save the Earth!

    Muahahahahaaaaaaa

  20. Ed

    My 6S was very hot while it was downloading the 200 or so apps I have on it after restoring the iCloud backup. Since then, it seems to have been fine.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      iPhone indexing is likely the problem. When you set up the phone, and begin downloading all your apps, the phone is going to get hot. This has happened to every iPhone I've owned (4, 4s, 5, 5s, and 6 plus). Every time. This will be a non-issue soon.

  21. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    normally...

    I'm usually more than happy to mock apple. But having killed an xperia Z by using it in my car on a warm day this might not be such a bad thing if it's busy trying to reduce power draw by any means to save the phone.

    Also it probably also wouldn't allow the GPS to function since that can really make a phone toasty.

  22. thelastdinosaur

    Having recieved my 6S on Saturday I did the usual backups in iTunes. Without any kind of skin on it I did notice my unit got very hot very quickly when putting all the data onto the phone and updating it etc. I have not had any further problems with heat so far or indeed the image seen here but I did find it to be a shock that it got so hot so quickly.

  23. Alan Denman

    Not a problem and I bet a real none one too.

    Whilst the bendy phone was never a problem because users are hard as nails, this one could justr eally be no problem.

  24. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Tuscon, Arizona??

    I think the actual spelling is Tucksun, Arizona... and not they're having record high temperatures of 115F this week...

  25. DougS Silver badge

    If a phone is getting hot during backup/restore in iTunes

    It sounds more like a battery issue. Mine didn't have this problem, and indeed hasn't even got warm. Maybe they got a bad batch of batteries?

    1. thelastdinosaur

      Re: If a phone is getting hot during backup/restore in iTunes

      I am not overly concerened as I have not seen it get hotter at any other time since using it since then. I am however tempted to plug it in this weekend for a prolonged period of time and see if I can replicate it. If it does a trip to Apple may happen.

  26. Aitor 1 Silver badge

    Quite normal

    At max CPU for a prolongued time, most top of the line phones will have a heat problem.. some are worse than others, but still...

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