We just received a unique new accessory for the Oppo Find X5 Pro – the Oppo’s Ice-Skin case. Meant to aid the phone’s passive cooling, this case ships as part of the standard retail set of the phones sold in China. Unfortunately, the availability of the case is so far limited to China, and we got our review unit straight from Oppo.
At the time of writing, we couldn’t find the case available outside of China, though we were promised a global release is coming. However, for Western Find X5 Pro users, the case will be a separate purchase with the price yet to be announced.
However, it’s the technical side of it that spurred our curiosity. It’s not often that you see tech innovation in something as simple as a protective case.
The Ice-Skin case is unique because it incorporates a soft hydrogel layer across its entire back. The hydrogel is stored inside a soft rubbery casing, which can be seen from both the inside and the outside of the case.
On the inside, the rubbery surface is flat and uninterrupted, retaining full contact with the phone’s back.
On the outside, the hydrogel is covered by a set of plastic stripes, which offer flexibility and protection at the same time. They allow the hydrogel some contact with the environment, which allegedly is all that it needs to regenerate its cooling capabilities. The case is supposed to pick up heat from the back of the phone, transfer it continuously to the ambient air, and do that much more efficiently than any other case.
If you’ve read our detailed Find X5 Pro review, you probably remember that the phone has a multi-tier passive cooling system built-in. A 3D graphene film covers the motherboard and the charging coil, and a dedicated ultra-thin graphite film covers both the back of the screen and the display IC. A vapor chamber with a surface area nearly 75% larger than the Find X3 Pro covers both the SoC and battery.
This system should efficiently dissipate all heat generated during high-intensity use to the phone’s surface.
Unfortunately, even this extra-large vapor chamber is enough as the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen1 chipset can get quite toasty under load. Despite the advanced passive cooling system, the phone’s benchmark scores were quick to dip on the second and third run due to thermal throttling.
We don’t mean to say that the Find X5 Pro is a worse offender in this respect than any of the other phones wielding the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1, but obviously, Oppo thinks there is more to be done about this than just relying on the built-in cooling solution.
Enter the Ice-Skin case with its Glacier Mat. Utilizing a special hydrogel, developed by the Wuhan University in China, it is able to continuously absorb moisture from the air over and over again and release it via evaporation, thus offering continuous recharging of its cooling properties.
Even before we put the case on the phone, the hydrogel pad on the internal side of the case felt notably cooler than any other surface in the room (ambient air temp of 22C), so it was a promising start.
Testing the Ice-Skin case cooling performance
The test that we decided to use to look into the cooling performance of the Ice-Skin case is the CPU Throttling Test (available on Google Play), which we often use in our reviews.
Test run 1 – Case Off
The first run had the Find X5 Pro naked, without the case, and we had the phone propped on its back on two thin silicone strips without touching any larger solid objects that could help in heat dissipation (such as the desk). The ambient temperature was 21C. The screen brightness slider was set to 50% on the slider.
Less than ten minutes into the test, the CPU performance had its first dip below 80%. The reported battery temp was a toasty 41C, up from 22C at the start of the test.
From there on, the phone obviously got its bearings, and for the next 10min or so, it only went under 80% once or twice. The reported internal temperature, however, rose up to 43C. The uppermost part of the phone’s back was also getting rather hot to touch, especially the metal frame.
The hot top part of the frame was a bit concerning. We weren’t sure that the Ice-Skin case could work its magic on that hotspot, in particular, as the hydrogel pad didn’t stretch to the top. But hey, if we knew all the answers in advance, we wouldn’t be doing this test.
Twenty minutes into the test, the phone settled comfortably around the 80% performance mark with hardly any significant drops. The temperature appeared to be stabilized at 43C.
Thirty minutes into the test, the phone’s performance was still hovering around 80%, but the reported internal temperature rose to 44C. The upper part of the metal frame was no longer comfortable to touch for more than a few seconds.
Forty minutes into the test, we kept seeing the same thing – performance around 80%, and battery temperature of around 44C, so we stopped the clock.
CPU Throttling test with the Ice-Skin case OFF the phone – focus on the first 20min
There are hardly any surprises here, though we admit that the Find X5 Pro improved on the results from our review, where it throttled to 70% after only twenty minutes of testing.
Test run 2 – Case On
For the second run, our Find X5 Pro was now suited up with the Ice-Skin case. The other environmental conditions were identical.
Monitoring the performance graph in real-time, we could immediately see an improvement in the phone’s performance as the timer went on.
Ten minutes into the test, the phone had its first dip to about 90% performance, but the temperature was merely 38C.
It wasn’t until 16 minutes into the test that we saw the first dip under 80% and temperatures around 42C. Now, with the case on, it took the phone twice as long to get to this point.
But from there on, we saw the same thing as before. Twenty min into the test, the performance settled around 80%, and temperatures reached a steady 43C.
CPU Throttling test with the Ice-Skin case ON the phone – focus on the first 20min
We completed the second run forty minutes after the start, with the performance hovering around 80% and the internal temperature maintaining 44C – again, just like in the first run. Only this time, with the case wrapping the phone’s frame, touching it was no longer an issue despite the high temps.
We can safely conclude that with prolonged heavy-duty loads (20min+), the Find X5 Pro will get hot, and it will throttle down to about 80% of its max performance regardless of whether you are using the Ice-Skin case or not.
In fact, the cooling properties of the case seem temporary, and even if it has regeneration capabilities, unlike most hydrogels, they are far below what’s needed to keep the Oppo Find X5 Pro cool under prolonged load.
However, as a temporary cooling relief (under 15min) or when you need all the performance, the phone can muster for a quick game session or two, the Ice-Skin case can get you that cooling boost that you need.
Plus, design-wise, it’s a pretty cool-looking case, and it doesn’t add more bulk than a regular case.
All in all, the Oppo Ice-Skin case is worth recommending, and it does a fine job as long as you keep your expectations in check.