Apple Warns iPhone Users
Apple today released a new support document that warns iPhone users that the camera on their device may be damaged by exposure to certain vibration frequencies, such as those generated by high-powered motorcycle engines.
iPhone cameras with optical image stabilization (OIS) or closed-loop autofocus (AF) are vulnerable to this damage because they use gyroscopes or magnetic sensors to help compensate for movement and vibration when taking photos or videos. The OIS and closed-loop autofocus systems in iPhone are designed for durability, Apple says in the documentation.
However, as with many consumer electronics products that include systems such as OIS, prolonged direct exposure to high amplitude vibrations in certain frequency ranges can degrade the performance of these systems, resulting in degraded image quality in photos and videos. It is recommended to avoid exposing your iPhone to high amplitude vibrations for extended periods.
Because of this risk, Apple advises users not to fix their iPhone directly to the chassis or handlebars of such motorcycles, as the vibrations transmitted directly can be intense. Apple even advises users to use at least a shock-absorbing mount when mounting the device on low-power devices such as mopeds and electric scooters to reduce any chance of generating damage.
It’s unclear whether Apple has a specific reason for releasing this document at this point, but there have been some reports of damage being caused in such situations, including on mountain bikes, in forums, and elsewhere for years.
Apple has previously warned that the OIS and closed-loop autofocus systems are also subject to magnetic interference that can degrade camera performance when used with certain iPhone accessories, although magnetism-related problems tend to be temporary and can be remedied by simply removing the accessory, while vibration can more easily cause permanent damage to the system.
All iPhone models starting with iPhone 7, as well as iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus, have OIS and closed-loop autofocus and are therefore affected by vibration.