Bad Vibrations: High Powered Engine Vibrations Damage iPhone Cameras

Sep 14, 2021 View Comments by

It’s time to think twice about how you mount your phone to your handlebars…

RAM Phone Mount RoadRUNNER

Apple has warned that vibrations from motorcycle engines can cause damage to iPhone cameras.

iPhone cameras with optical image stabilization (OIS) or closed loop auto-focus (AF) can sustain damage when vibrations are strong enough. These cameras utilize gyroscopes and/or magnetic sensors in order to operate, and can become inoperable when too much vibration is introduced. OIS is a fairly new technology in cell phone cameras which reduces blur by allowing the lens of the camera to move when the gyroscope senses movement of the device.  Closed-loop autofocus uses board magnetic sensors to determine how much the lens position should be adjusted, according to current gravitational and vibrational loads on the device. If you have trouble holding the phone perfectly still when taking a picture, OIS and AF will ensure the image is still crisp. But, with all the movement that occurs when a phone is mounted to the handlebars of a bike, those gyros and sensors can quit working correctly.  These systems are designed for durability, but repeated exposure to the vibrational forces felt in most motorcycle handlebars is enough to render these technologies useless.

 

Vibration is transmitted from the engine through your chassis and handlebars. Some bikes are more “vibey” than others, but most modern day motorcycles vibrate within a frequency range that directly effects the cell phones internal mechanisms described above. This is problematic for those of us who use our phone as a navigational tool (and to take great photos during our rides). If you want your $1000 communication investment to last, consider taking steps to reduce the vibration being transmitted to your phone.

 

So what can you do to mitigate the effects of vibration on your phone’s camera?

  1. Use a vibration reducing phone mount like the ROKFORM
  2. Clamp your phone mount closer to the center of your handlebars – the further towards the end of the bars, the more vibration!
  3. Install vibration reducing handlebar risers/mounts and bar ends. Rox Risers and Oxford make great products to help with vibration in the handlebars.
  4. Choose an older device to use as offline navigation only and store your newer phone in your tank bag, top case or jacket pocket.

“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. Attaching your iPhone to vehicles with small-volume or electric engines, such as mopeds and scooters, may lead to comparatively lower-amplitude vibrations, but if you do so a vibration dampening mount is recommended to lessen the risk of damage to your iPhone and its OIS and AF systems,” Apple said in their support document.

 

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