In a new support document, Apple issues a warning to its iPhone user that vibrations from the engines of high-power motorcycles can damage the camera on devices. Exposing your iPhone to high amplitude vibrations within certain frequency ranges, specifically, those generated by high-power motorcycle engines can degrade the performance of the camera system.
Apple says the problem stems from its optical image stabilization (OIS) software. This software is used on all of the best iPhones to make images less blurry, compensating for hand movements whilst you take a picture. Another feature, closed-loop autofocus, which resists gravity and vibration to preserve sharp focus, is also at the heart of the issue.
Apple issues Warning to iPhone Users who Ride Motorcycles
Apple says that these systems are designed to be durable, but that they can be damaged by long-term and direct exposure to high amplitude vibrations:
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.
In particular, Apple says that high-power or high-volume motorcycle engines “generate intense high-amplitude vibrations, which are transmitted through the chassis and handlebars” which could damage an iPhone attached to the front of a bike for use with navigation or some other purpose. As such Apple says “it is not recommended to attach your iPhone to motorcycles with high-power or high-volume engines.”
Attaching your iPhone to vehicles with small-volume or electric engines, such as mopeds and scooters, may lead to comparatively lower-amplitude vibrations. Apple also recommends using a vibration dampening mount to lessen the risk of damage to your iPhone and its OIS and AF systems. It is also recommended to avoid regular use for prolonged periods to further lessen the risk of damage.
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.
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.