Apple just released a statement basically telling us not to attach our iPhones to motorcycles. It turns out that exposure to the vibrations made by high-powered motorcycle engines can actually degrade iPhone’s camera system.
The newer iPhones have multiple camera systems that contribute to delivering consistently clear photos. These systems include optical image stabilisation (OIS) and closed-loop autofocus, and they are both powered by physical components.
OIS works by having a gyroscope sense any unwanted movement and having the lens move accordingly to cancel it out, resulting in a clearer image. This feature has been around since the iPhone 6 Plus, and is an integral part of most cameras on modern flagship smartphones.
According to Apple, closed-loop AF “resists the effects of gravity and vibration to preserve sharp focus in stills, videos, and panoramas.” Internally, the iPhone has on-board magnetic sensors that measure both gravity and vibration, and so the lens position is moved accordingly to compensate.
They say that these systems are tested for durability, but it seems high-amplitude vibrations within certain frequency ranges may degrade the performance of OIS and closed-loop AF, leading to blurrier images.
High-power motorcycle engines generate intense vibrations that are transmitted through the chassis and handlebars, which is where a lot of riders mount their phones. Apple recommends for users to avoid exposure to such vibrations and stop phone-mounting.
Vehicles with smaller or electric engines, like mopeds or scooters, transmit lower-amplitude vibrations, so Apple recommends a vibration dampening mount or to avoid regular use for long periods of time.
To be clear, you can still carry around your iPhone while riding your bike. Just don’t expose it to direct vibrations and you’ll be fine.