Motorcyclists, if you have noticed that the images of your iPhone have gotten worse, it’s not your imagination. Manzana warned that prolonged exposure to “Vibrations of great amplitude” it may damage the phone’s camera.
And with scooters the situation is not much better.
Motorcycles can wear out the iPhone’s camera stabilization hardware
The problem is due to the negative effects of motorcycle vibration on the stabilization mechanisms built into the camera. These are designed to keep the camera lens still when taking a photo, but they can wear out with prolonged shaking, the kind of shaking that comes from a motorcycle engine.
A gyroscope in the iPhone detects that the lens is moving when taking a photo, and to avoid a blurry image, the camera tries to keep the lens fixed. This is called Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) and some models have closed-loop autofocus (AF), which uses magnetic sensors to set the lens position to compensate for any movement.
“IPhone’s closed-loop AF and OIS systems are built to last”writes Apple in a new support document. “However, long-term direct exposure to high amplitude vibrations within certain frequency ranges can degrade the performance of these systems and reduce the image quality of photos and videos.”
Don’t put your iPhone on the handlebar
Manzana notes that “high-power or high-volume motorcycle engines generate intense, high-amplitude vibrations “ that are transmitted through the handlebars and chassis. That is why the company does not recommend mounting an iPhone on a motorcycle at all.
Which is a bit ironic. Many people mount their iPhones on their motorcycles so that they can safely use them while riding.
Although Apple doesn’t say this specifically, the implication is that there is no risk to the camera from carrying an iPhone in your pocket while riding a motorcycle. In that case, the driver’s body probably dampens harmful vibrations.
Mopeds and scooters create lower amplitude vibrations. Apple suggests using a vibration-dampened iPhone mount with these. But the company also suggests avoiding “Regular use for prolonged periods to further reduce the risk of damage.”