Apple Warns That Vibrations May Damage iPhone Cameras

Apple has warned that an iPhone’s camera system might get damaged and the imaging output could be affected if the phone is attached to anything that produces high-amplitude vibrations, such as a motorcycle. To be clear, Apple’s advisory doesn’t come after any user reports of malfunctioning iPhone cameras following a motorcycle vlog ride. In fact, there doesn’t appear to be any form of design or engineering defect associated with iPhone cameras for which Apple is issuing an advisory in advance.

Earlier this year, Apple published a similar support page that warned users about using magnetic accessories that disrupt the camera system. The company asked users to avoid certain magnetic accessories because their magnetic field might interfere and disable the camera sensor. Delving deeper into the damage prospects, the company pointed out that accessories with strong magnetizable components can reduce the sensor’s accuracy and limit the movement range of the lens elements.

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Apple’s latest advisory also warns about similar damage to the camera hardware, but this time the culprit is high-amplitude vibrations with a specific frequency range. The source in this case happens to be high-power motorcycle engines. Apple’s new support document mentions that long-term and direct exposure to high-frequency vibrations within a certain frequency range might affect the performance of the OIS (Optical Image Stabilization) hardware and the closed-loop autofocus system. To avoid the potential issue, users should be wary about strapping their iPhone to the handlebar of a motorcycle. As for the type of motorcycles discussed, Apple points toward rides equipped with high-power or high-volume engines. Mopeds and scooters are fine, but the company recommends using a vibration-dampening mount in either case. To further minimize the risk, users are also asked to keep their sessions short when an iPhone is attached to a two-wheeler’s handlebar.

As mentioned, motorcycle engines that produce high-amplitude vibrations in a certain frequency range can affect the camera system's performance, according to Apple. The two core components that are prone to receive damage are the OIS hardware and the closed-loop autofocus system. For those unaware, the OIS system utilizes the gyroscope to compensate for hand movements by moving the camera module along the opposite axes, helping to ensure images don’t look like a blurry mess. The same technique is used to avoid videos captured by an iPhone turning out shaky.

The other system that will take a hit due to the vibrations produced by motorcycle engines is the closed-loop autofocus system. This one relies on the magnetic sensors inside an iPhone to measure the gravity and vibrations caused by movements, and accordingly decides how much the lens elements should be shifted to compensate. The end result is that the effects of shaky hand motion are reduced so that the resulting photos and videos look sharp. Lately, Apple has switched to using the sensor-shift image stabilization tech with the iPhone 12 Pro Max and this will reportedly appear on more models when the iPhone 13 series launches.

Next: VoiceOver On iPhone, iPad & Mac: How To Enable And Why It's Useful

Source: Apple

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