March 4, 2024

iPhone 15 Pro Max v Galaxy S24 Ultra v ROG Phone 8 Pro in thermal gaming test

Gaming on smartphones has been taken to the next level with the launch of the iPhone 15 Pro. It’s the first time we’re seeing new or nearly new AAA game titles come to smartphones. Titles now available on the iPhone 15 Pro (along with M1 and M2-powered iPads) include Resident Evil Village, the Resident Evil 4 remake, Death Stranding, and Assassin’s Creed Mirage.

As we noted in our recent iPhone 15 Pro Max, Galaxy S24 Ultra, and Vivo X100 Pro head-to-head comparison, Apple appears to have resolved the widely reported overheating issues shortly after its launch. This was the result of a combination of an operating system bug and issues with third-party applications, and could be fixed through subsequent software patches.

Despite this, attention was focused on Apple’s use of a titanium frame in the design of the iPhone 15 Pro series, which differs from the more thermally conductive steel frame it had used in the previous iPhone 14 Pro series. . While the iPhone 15 Pro may no longer be prone to overheating in general use, it can certainly get hotter under light loads and even at idle compared to previous models. As we exclusively revealed, Apple has informed its technicians that this is “expected behavior” and is therefore not considered a hardware failure, but it seems to come with the territory given the use of titanium and a relatively cool cooling system. rudimentary.

With its overheating issues under control, a new emphasis on AAA games, along with an apparent recognition that the iPhone 15 Pro models run hotter than previous models even at idle, we thought it would be interesting to do another test of our iPhone 15. Pro Max, pitting it against the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the Asus ROG Phone 8 Pro.

A real world play test:

In this test, we do not focus on frames per second or power consumption, but only on the temperature of the respective phones before and after 30 minutes of AAA mobile gaming. It’s simply a real-world test of the device’s temperature after a typical mobile gaming session, although you can see how the iPhone 15 Pro Max and Galaxy S24 Ultra fared in our latest Geekbench 6 and 3D benchmarking article Mark Wild Life Extreme Stress Test.

To keep things as fair as possible, we choose Foreigner: Isolation for the test. It is a AAA title ported from PC and consoles that is available on iOS and Android platforms. While it may not be one of the latest AAA games on the market, it is still graphically demanding and was able to outperform all the phones. The iPhone 15 Pro Max is powered by the A17 Pro and is Apple’s first chip with a GPU that supports real-time ray tracing. Both the Galaxy S24 Ultra and ROG Phone 8 Pro are powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 with an Adreno 750 GPU that supports a more advanced form of ray tracing known as global illumination.

Thermal test results:

At the beginning of the session, the ambient temperature in the room was 26 degrees Celsius (78.8 F). All three phones had their temperatures taken using an infrared temperature monitor on the back of each respective device, before and after each 30-minute gaming session. As you can see in the table below, the iPhone 15 Pro Max idled at 30.3 degrees Celsius (86.54 F), the Galaxy S24 Ultra at 29.4 degrees Celsius (84.92 F), and the ROG Phone 8 Pro at 29.5 degrees Celsius (85.1 F). The batteries of all the phones were charged to more than 80%.

After 30 minutes of play Foreigner: Isolation, the iPhone 15 Pro Max reached a temperature of 44.6 degrees Celsius (112.28 F), while the Galaxy S24 Ultra reached 35.1 degrees Celsius (95.18 F) and the ROG Phone 8 Pro recorded a temperature at the rear of 34.3 degrees Celsius ( 93.74 F). The key point of differentiation between the devices and their thermal performance can be quickly identified in the fact that both the Galaxy S24 Ultra and ROG Phone 8 Pro are equipped with vapor chamber cooling systems.

Cooling systems and analysis:

The Galaxy S24 Ultra clearly benefits from a new vapor chamber that is 92% larger than that of the Galaxy S23 Ultra. Its vapor chamber extends over both the chip and part of the battery, and it also uses a thermal compound on the chip to transfer heat to a thermal pad. Behind your vapor chamber is a layer of graphite film that rests against a copper sheet behind the screen.

In addition to the approach taken by Samsung, the ROG Phone 8 Pro uses boron nitride, an advanced thermal compound to help transfer heat from the chip to what it calls a “rapid cooling conductor” between the SoC and the metal near the bottom. later. cover. It also uses a couple of layers of graphite sheets on each side of its vapor chamber. JerryRigEverything called last year’s ROG Phone 7 cooling solution the most complex on the market, and Asus claims its revised system is 20% more effective this time around.

While the benefits of the ROG’s cooling system aren’t immediately apparent compared to the Galaxy S24 Ultra, we ran a separate benchmark of the Mark Wild Life 3D Extreme Stress Test to see how it performed under sustained load. While playing a AAA game for 30 minutes will certainly test a smartphone’s thermal system, the 3D Mark stress test maxes it out for 20 minutes straight. The benefit of ROG’s more sophisticated cooling approach over the Galaxy 24 Ultra becomes evident. It scored a best loop score of 5222 and an incredibly impressive lowest loop score of 4141. The same chip in the Galaxy S24 Ultra returned a best loop score of 4918, but a lowest loop score of just 2360.

For a first non-gaming phone, however, the Galaxy S24 Ultra sits in a happy medium between the ROG Phone 8 Pro and the iPhone 15 Pro Max. That said, the iPhone 15 Pro Max easily fared the worst in this comparison, running around 10 degrees Celsius hotter than the other two smartphones after 30 minutes of AAA gaming. With no vapor chamber and limited use of graphite (not including anything on the back of the motherboard to keep temperatures in check), it’s no surprise that it got as hot as it did during this test.

Although this wasn’t noticeable when using the Razer Kishi v2 controller, it also didn’t result in any obvious frame rate drops on Foreigner: Isolation, it would be very uncomfortable if you had an iPhone 15 Pro Max in your hands and used the touch screen to play games. While it’s certainly great to see new and recent AAA games on the iPhone 15 Pro Max, Apple’s current cooling approach really doesn’t cut it, which is a shame as the A17 Pro is a very powerful chip that has the potential Deliver on Apple’s promise of having a gaming console you can put in your pocket.

Titanium and titanium alloy:

Titanium is less thermally conductive than steel, and the fact that the iPhone 15 Pro uses titanium doesn’t help either. This means that when heat dissipates more easily through the steel frame used in the iPhone 14 Pro, it is more likely to be trapped inside the chassis, causing heat to build up, especially under load. The iPhone 14 Pro wasn’t a champion either because it used a similar minimalist cooling solution as the iPhone 15 Pro – switching to titanium without any additional thermal mitigation seems to be the biggest factor contributing to the iPhone 15 Pro getting so hot in this proof.

However, it is also worth noting that the Galaxy S24 Ultra also uses a titanium frame. Recent reports have indicated that Apple is using the stronger and more expensive Grade 5 titanium variant, which is alloyed with aluminum (6%) and vanadium. Samsung is using grade 2 titanium, which is less expensive, unalloyed and considered commercially pure (CP). While it is not as strong as grade 5 titanium, it has the advantage of being a little more thermally conductive. For the record, titanium grades range up to grade 38, which is a titanium alloy used in armor.

The future of gaming and the iPhone’s AAA thermals:

Apple was previously rumored to be testing vapor chambers in its iPhones, but so far they have yet to materialize in any shipping products, which is unfortunate. A more recent rumor suggests that Apple uses graphene in addition to graphite to help keep thermals in check, which has proven to be a very effective cooling method for electronic devices in research conducted on this approach. Given that Apple has notably reduced the weight of the iPhone 15 Pro Max by 19 grams, the addition of a vapor chamber is likely to undo some of this good work.

However, a hardware hacker who redesigned an iPhone 15 Pro to incorporate a vapor chamber demonstrated that it offered noticeably improved thermal performance, clearly highlighting the benefits that can be achieved with this approach. With any luck, we may see Apple adopt the combination of graphene and graphite sheets in the upcoming iPhone 16 Pro series, but that does little to help owners of the current iPhone 15 Pro series who should really enjoy the benefits. more robust cooling. solution now.

If Apple wants to get serious about AAA gaming on iPhones, and we hope it does, it really needs to move forward with a more sophisticated thermal cooling solution.

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