Vapor chamber demand for 5G phones disappoints
Aaron Lee, Taipei; Joseph Tsai, DIGITIMES
Vapor chamber (VC) demand for 5G smartphones has been a disappointment thus far in 2021, according to sources at cooling module suppliers.
Although 5G smartphone sales picked up in the latter half of 2020, most of the devices still used traditional heat pipes or graphite sheet solutions for cooling instead of VCs, as some of the vendors who had been keen on adopting VC solutions became less active in the market, the sources noted.
Korea-based LG Electronics and China-based Huawei were both key pushers of VC solutions, but the former has now announced plans to leave the handset market, while the latter’s smartphone business has been seriously undermined by the US trade sanctions, the sources said.
Since the market is still filled with uncertainties, smartphone brands have also taken a less aggressive attitude about adopting new technology for their products, the sources stated.
Global smartphone shipments slipped 8.8% on year to come to only 1.24 billion units in 2020, but shipments of 5G smartphones grew significantly to 280-300 million units, up from only two million units in 2019, according to Digitimes Research’s figures.
However, many cooling module makers have shifted their newly expanded capacity, originally meant for smartphones, to make VCs for notebooks, demand for which has been rising, the sources said.
Thanks to orders from the notebook sector, Taiwanese cooling module maker Asia Vital Components (AVC) reported consolidated revenues of NT$10.6 billion (US$368.95 million) for the first quarter, up 41.57% on year; Auras Technology’s consolidated revenues rose 53.02% on year to come to NT$3.43 billion; and Nidec Chaun-Choung Technology (CCI) saw its sales arrive at NT$2.47 billion, up 50.55% on year.
For 2021, the sources believe the makers’ sales will be driven mainly by products for notebooks, servers and graphics cards, and are conservative about VC’s development in 5G smartphones.