Report: Your iPhone Camera Performance Could Degrade Due to Motorcycle Vibrations

Sep 12, 2021, 1:52 PM UTC
4 mins read
Report: Your iPhone Camera Performance Could Degrade Due to Motorcycle Vibrations
Photo by TheRegisti on Unsplash

The new Apple Support post suggests “exposing your iPhone to high amplitude vibrations within certain frequency ranges, specifically, those generated by high-power motorcycle engines can degrade the performance of the iPhone camera system.”

Apple’s official statement from the Support page:

If you accidentally move a camera when you take a picture, the resulting image can be blurry. To prevent this, some iPhone models have optical image stabilization (OIS). OIS lets you take sharp photos even if you accidentally move the camera. With OIS, a gyroscope senses that the camera moved. To reduce image motion, and the resulting blur, the lens moves according to the angle of the gyroscope.

Additionally, some iPhone models have closed-loop autofocus (AF). Closed-loop AF resists the effects of gravity and vibration to preserve sharp focus in stills, videos, and panoramas. With closed-loop AF, on-board magnetic sensors measure gravity and vibration effects and determine the lens position so that the compensating motion can be set accurately.

The OIS and closed-loop AF systems in iPhone are designed for durability. However, as is the case with many consumer electronics that include systems like OIS, long-term direct exposure to high-amplitude vibrations within certain frequency ranges may degrade the performance of these systems and lead to reduced image quality for photos and videos. It is recommended to avoid exposing your iPhone to extended high-amplitude vibrations.

Due to the magnitude of vibration in specific frequency bands generated by motorcycles with high-power or high-volume motors, Apple recommends that you don’t attach your iPhone to them.

Attaching your iPhone to small-volume or electric engines, such as mopeds and scooters, may result in lower-amplitude vibrations, but using a vibration dampening attachment to reduce the potential of damage to your iPhone and its OIS and AF systems is suggested. To reduce the chance of damage, it’s also a good idea to avoid using it on a regular basis for long periods of time.

Other official Apple Support posts, on the other hand, advise customers to stay away from products that use magnets or magnetic metal near the iPhone rear camera, claiming that doing so will improve camera performance and battery life. While some third-party manufacturers continue to provide iPhone rear camera accessories with strong magnets or magnetizable metal surfaces (or cameras). These magnets and plates can be used to latch folio covers, join separable cases, or secure rigid mounts, such as vehicle mounts.

When you move a camera by accident while taking a picture, the result can be a blurred image. Some iPhone models include optical picture stabilization to prevent this (OIS). OIS allows you to take sharp photographs even if you move the camera by accident. Closed-loop autofocus is also available on select iPhone models (AF). Closed-loop AF resists the effects of gravity and vibration instills, movies, and panoramas to maintain excellent focus.

A gyroscope detects camera movement using OIS. The lens moves in accordance with the angle of the gyroscope to eliminate image motion and blur. Onboard accelerometers measure and adjust for gravity and vibration impacts using closed-loop AF. Magnetic sensors identify the position of the lens, allowing the compensatory motion to be precisely calibrated.

Magnetic fields are detected by lens-position sensors. If you put a magnet near these sensors, the magnetic field will interfere with or disable the sensors temporarily. This can reduce the precision of the sensors and limit the lenses’ range of motion. The camera will continue to shoot images with other stabilization systems, but without OIS or closed-loop AF.

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