Off yer bike: Apple warns motorcycles could shake iPhone cameras out of focus forever

Claims they're 'designed for durability' but users report kit dies in months – even on mountain bikes


Apple has advised motorcycle-riding iPhone owners that their metal steeds might damage their smartphones after prolonged exposure to engine vibration – but users report total dysfunction after even less frenetic vibrations.

"The advanced camera systems in some iPhone models include technology like optical image stabilization (OIS) and closed-loop autofocus (AF) to help you capture great photos even in difficult conditions," states an Apple support article posted on September 10th.

While OIS and closed-loop AF are "designed for durability", Apple warns: "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."

The company therefore "avoid exposing your iPhone to extended high-amplitude vibrations."

No, that is not an excuse to avoid mowing the lawn or doing some odd jobs with power tools next weekend: Apple identifies only certain two-wheelers as the sort of thing you need to worry about.

"It is not recommended to attach your iPhone to motorcycles with high-power or high-volume engines due to the amplitude of the vibration in certain frequency ranges that they generate," the article states. Those of you astride mopeds and scooters are exposed, too, but Apple reckons your iPhone will be fine when used with a vibration-dampening mount.

"It is also recommended to avoid regular use for prolonged periods to further lessen the risk of damage," the article states.

Apple names devices all the way back to 2014's iPhone 6 as susceptible to vibrations.

But the company appears to be offering too little advice, too late – this thread on iFixit features iPhone owners reporting that under one year's worth of use on motorcycles has proven disastrous for cameras. Some posters mention problems after using iPhones on mountain bikes, which have no engine to produce high-amplitude vibrations but do endure all sorts of other indignities. The thread includes tales of Apple Store staff replacing iPhones under warranty when the problem manifests, and of being well and truly aware that two-wheelers and iPhones don't mix. ®

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