The chips that power smartphones these days are a lot like the ones found in laptop and desktop computers. Among other things, that means that when they have a habit of slowing down when they get too hot.
And that’s why some “gaming phone” makers have decided to throw things like vapor chambers and even spinning fans to help keep things cool. Now OnePlus is showing off a concept phone that takes another page out of the gaming laptop playbook: the OnePlus 11 concept phone uses liquid cooling.
OnePlus calls its liquid cooling system “Active CryoFlux,” and says it features “two piezoelectric micropumps connected to pipelines sandwiched between an upper and lower diaphragm.” These pumps can move “icy cryogenic liquid” across the pipelines to help move heat away from the phone’s processor and circulate it through the rest of the phone.
In fact, OnePlus incorporated the liquid cooling pipelines into the phone’s design: a transparent glass cover on the back of the phone allows you to see the liquid as it moves through the phone. OnePlus also put a “Halo Lighting” ring around the camera section. It glows when the liquid cooling system is active, giving the phone a striking look.
The tiny pump and pipeline system adds very little thickness to the phone, since the pumps take up just 0.2cm squared.
According to OnePlus, liquid cooling helps reduce temperatures by as much as 2.1 degrees Celsius during gaming sessions, which improves frames by 3 to 4 frames per second. It can also reduce the phone’s temperature during charging by up to 1.6 degrees Celsius, helping the phone charge a little more quickly by “shaving 30-45s from the charging time”.
In terms of real-world performance, Linus Tech Tips got a chance to run some tests on a prototype and report that the Active CryoFlux system really does help the concept phone run cooler than an unmodified OnePlus 11 smartphone. Even the back cover is cooler to touch.
But the effect is temporary: eventually the liquid gets too hot to offer much help until both it and the processor have had time to cool off. And most mobile games are designed to deal with smartphone chips that throttle anyway, so mobile gamers might not see much benefit from a liquid cooling system. But I suspect that you might see more benefit when running apps and games that aren’t specifically designed for mobile phones. Liquid cooling is likely to be more helpful for emulation, for example.
For now, OnePlus says it’s Active CryoFlux system is just a concept and there’s no word on if or when the company will actually sell a phone with a built-in liquid cooling system.