AH OnePlus 2-22

How the OnePlus 2 Handles the Snapdragon 810’s Heat

August 17, 2015 - Written By Nick Sutrich

The Snapdragon 810 was supposed to be the big 64-bit savior for Android, offering top-tier performance in a brand new octa-core envelope for 2015’s high-end devices.  While the performance of the chipset is certainly excellent there have been significant issues with overheating and underclocking in phones that use it, including the HTC One M9 and Sony Xperia Z3+/Z4.  These sort of performance issues worried many interested customers of the OnePlus 2 when OnePlus announced that its new phone would be powered by the same chipset, albeit a newer version of the chipset that’s supposed to get around these issues.

OnePlus Co-Founder Carl Pei explaned to us that OnePlus has done a number of things to help alleviate these issues for their new flagship phone, and now that we’ve got one in our hands we can test exactly how these play out in some real world testing.  For the past few days I’ve been able to use the OnePlus 2 as my daily phone, putting it through the paces of plenty of music streaming, YouTube video watching, taking 4K videos and of course benchmarking as much as possible.  Putting the phone through some difficult tasks I recorded 4K video for half and hour non-stop, a task that takes even a dedicated camera like the Sony RX100 IV to its knees after some minutes.  This test resulted in consistent 4K recording as well as simply making the phone warmer, with no significant heat output and the phone was still able to be handled without issue.

Similarly 3DMark’s incredibly graphics intensive Slingshot test crawls at a pace of under 10 frames per second even on the highest end devices out there, ensuring that the hardware is taxed to the maximum extent.  Running this test back to back for the similar half an hour as the previous test yielded similar results.  The initial score was well into the 900’s, besting basically everything on the market.  All subsequent scores after the initial run hovered between 810 and 820 points, showing some downclocking of the chipset to help with heat.  Following the detailed heat graph that Futuremark’s test provides we see the temperature slowly crawl up through the tests, topping out around the 42-44C mark (105-110F), a temperature rating barely above the human body’s own temperature.  This again results in a slightly warm phone but nothing to be alarmed about.

What was impressive here was not just the fact that the phone didn’t get very hot to begin with after half an hour of intensive testing, but that the performance of the device never visually faltered throughout the usage period.  4K video takes a lot of processing power to keep steady, and similarly Futuremark’s 3DMark Slingshot test pushes the graphical boundaries of what mobile devices can handle.  Following what OnePlus Co-Founder Carl Pei told us at the OnePlus event earlier this month, OnePlus has kept the top clock speed 200MHz lower than the standard Snapdragon 810 out of Qualcomm’s factory.  In addition to this they have added a new scheduler to Android that controls which CPU cores are active and ensures that CPU cores adjacent to one another are only turned on when absolutely needed to keep performance up.

This sort of intelligent software control coupled with the heat dissipation model of the hardware really seems to be helping things.  Studying the build of the phone it seems that OnePlus used the new metal frame of the OnePlus 2 to help dissipate the heat away from the processor and towards the outside of the device where it can better reduce heat.  The heat is more noticeable on the top half of the phone, again only through the metal trim that runs around the edge of the phone, as well as a tad bit on the metal strip of the camera on the back of the device.  Removing the back of the phone and feeling the plastic casing that covers the battery and other internal components registered cooler to the touch than the metal frame, showing that the frame is integral to the heat dissipation design here and that the plastic helps keep the user from feeling too much heat.  Has OnePlus solved the Snapdragon 810 heat issues for good?  It’s possible, but the question is will it help Qualcomm recover from the mess that the Snapdragon 810 caused?  That certainly remains to be seen.