Apple Warns Vibrations Like Those From High-Power Motorcycle Engines Can Harm iPhone Cameras
Apple today published a new support document warning iPhone users that the cameras on their devices can be damaged by exposure to certain vibrational frequencies such as those generated by high-power motorcycle engines.
iPhone camera lenses with optical image stabilization (OIS) or closed-loop autofocus (AF) are susceptible to this damage due to their use of gyroscopes and/or magnetic sensors to help compensate for movement and vibration when shooting photos or video.
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 this risk, Apple recommends that users not attach their iPhones directly to the chassis or handlebars of such motorcycles, as direct transmission of vibrations can be intense. Apple even recommends that users mounting their devices to lower-powered devices like mopeds and electric scooters at least use a vibration-dampening mount to minimize the chances of any damage.
First ride on the motorcycle and I think I toasted the camera in my iPhone. 8 miles. Crappy design. — James Chadbourne (@mack505) September 4, 2021
It is unclear whether there is a specific reason Apple has posted the document at this time, but there have been a number of reports on discussion forums and other venues over the years about damage caused in such scenarios, including on mountain bikes.
Apple has previously warned that OIS and closed-loop AF systems can similarly suffer from magnetic interference that degrades camera performance when used with certain iPhone accessories, although magnet-related issues tend to be temporary and can be remedied by simply removing the accessories. Vibrations can more easily result in permanent damage to the systems.
All iPhone models from the iPhone 7 onward, as well as the iPhone 6 Plus and iPhone 6s Plus, have OIS and/or closed-loop AF and are potentially affected.