iFixit’s teardown for the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra could explain why your phone is running hot

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Tech teardown specialist iFixit has published a new article taking apart the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 and Note 20 Ultra, providing us a better look at what’s underneath the giant camera bump of Samsung’s $1,300 stylus-equipped smartphone and its cheaper sibling. Surprisingly, iFixit found that both phones are missing the vapor chamber and copper heat pipes Samsung had been using on previous phones to cool their processor during extended gaming sessions.

Instead of copper, iFixit found a multi-layered graphite thermal pad inside each device during its teardowns and says that JerryRigEverything reportedly found one as well. But weirdly, at least one other Galaxy Note 20 Ultra does have the copper heatpipe and vapor chamber cooling, as you can see in this teardown video.

Instead of copper, there was graphite and quite a lot
Image: iFixit

We are not sure why some phones have graphite thermal pads instead of copper, but it might be cause for concern. Some reviewers did note in their reviews of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra that the phone ran hot, regardless of how they used it.

“The Note 20 Ultra warmed up all the time. Using the camera? The phone gets hot. Playing a game? The phone gets hot,” Android Authority said in their review, noting that it got hotter than similar Snapdragon-powered phones. Wired UK said that just downloading Fortnite indoors made the Note 20 Ultra “warmer than we’d usually expect.” PCWorld used an infrared thermometer to measure temperatures over 100 degrees Fahrenheit with the phone under heavy load. And SamMobile pointed out that “its temperature went up to 45-46C with just 5-6 minutes of 8K recording.” Amusingly, two of the reviews mentioned how some rival phones come with specialized cooling systems these days, the same kind of cooling system we thought Samsung had as well.

It’s important to note my colleague Dieter Bohn didn’t notice any such issues when he reviewed the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra for The Verge, but perhaps our phone had different cooling.

Before you buy a Galaxy Note 20 or Note 20 Ultra, you might want to know what type of cooling it’ll have and whether it might be an issue. Samsung did not respond to a request for comment, though, so we’re not sure what to tell you.

Aside from the weird copper chamber switcheroo, iFixit also spotted something interesting about the new motherboards: Samsung seems to have shaped them to look like AT-ATs, those massive, four-legged fighting machines from Star Wars.

Star Wars fans, does this shape look familiar?
Image: iFixit

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