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Samsung Galaxy S22 vapor chamber cooling tipped for big performance boost

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

The Samsung Galaxy S22 could reportedly come with vapor chamber cooling tech that's commonly found on high-end gaming phones. 

That's according to a new article from DigiTimes, and although it's yet to be confirmed, the rumor is apparently so strong that “several Taiwanese suppliers” are said to be gearing up for a spike in orders.

While the article doesn’t specify which handsets this might cover beyond "new smartphones for 2022," the Samsung Galaxy S22 and/or the Galaxy Z Fold 4 seem like sensible bets. 

After all, vapor chamber cooling — which uses a small vacuum-sealed canister where liquid changes from liquid to gas to dissipate heat — is only necessary in powerful phones where overheating and throttling is potentially a problem. Indeed, generally vapor cooling is the preserve of gaming handsets where throttled performance is instantly noticeable in the literal heat of battle. 

We don't yet know anything concrete about the Samsung Galaxy S22, but one recent rumor suggested it could get a major boost in graphics power in the form of a GPU based on AMD's RDNA 2 architecture. That's also found within the PS5 and Xbox Series X, and while the phone would be unlikely to match those consoles for overall power, it could indicate that this phone might be a gaming powerhouse. Vapor chamber cooling would therefore fit nicely, if both reports are true.

What’s interesting about this is that Samsung isn’t a stranger to vapor chamber cooling, and was an early adopter with the Galaxy S10 Plus — but not the cheaper S10, which used an “advanced heat pipe” system instead. 

The more recent S20 and Note 20 handsets used vapor chamber cooling, but weirdly not in every model. An iFixIt teardown of two Galaxy Note 20 Ultras found two entirely different cooling systems in place, confusingly enough.

That could be down to cost, but it could also be down to the fragility of the part. As Greg Kramer, a thermal systems engineer, told iFixIt at the time: “any little crimp, dent, or bend can cause one to fail.” 

Additionally, “if you heat them up just a hair past the limit, they will swell like a balloon.” Not ideal for Samsung, a company that previously had its own exploding battery scandal back in 2016 with the Galaxy Note 7. While that’s ancient history in smartphone terms, it's probably something that still gives company executives sleepless nights.

Despite this, Kramer says that a vapor cooler was appealing to Samsung not just because of its literal cooling powers, but because of its figurative ‘cool’ factor. “We were told that when Samsung first used a vapor chamber, they estimated they sold up to 1M [additional] phones just because of the novelty of having a vapor chamber,” he said. “So, even though the vapor chambers are more expensive of a solution, they made up for it in volume of devices.” 

Whether a vapor cooling solution would be seen as so exciting in 2021, when gaming phones have made them relatively commonplace, remains to be seen. But it will be interesting to see if this rumor comes to pass with Samsung’s flagship handsets in 2022.

Other recent speculation around the Galaxy S22 has tipped that it could come with an improved camera setup and that its screen might be smaller than those in recent Galaxy flagships. Expect to hear more as we get closer to its likely release date in early 2022.

Alan Martin

Freelance contributor Alan has been writing about tech for over a decade, covering phones, drones and everything in between. Previously Deputy Editor of tech site Alphr, his words are found all over the web and in the occasional magazine too. When not weighing up the pros and cons of the latest smartwatch, you'll probably find him tackling his ever-growing games backlog. Or, more likely, playing Spelunky for the millionth time.