iPhone cameras can be damaged by motorcycle vibrations, Apple warns

iPhone 12 Pro review
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If you want to keep the cameras on your iPhone 12 in top condition, you might want to keep them away from your motorbike: Apple has warned that vibrations like those from "high-powered motorcycle engines" can degrade iPhone camera performance.

The alert comes through a newly published support document, saying that the optical image stabilization components inside the latest iPhone cameras – which corrects any shakes as a photo is taken – can be affected by rapid, powerful vibrations.

It's the same for the closed-loop autofocus system inside the iPhone camera, Apple says: it uses magnetic sensors to counteract the effects of gravity and vibration to make sure whatever you're shooting always stays in focus.

Mopeds and scooters

"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," reads the document.

"High-power or high-volume motorcycle engines generate intense high-amplitude vibrations, which are transmitted through the chassis and handlebars. 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 document goes on to say that mopeds and scooters should be okay, but that you should use a vibration-dampening mount whenever possible, and avoid "regular use for prolonged periods" to minimize the risk of any damage happening to your iPhone.

Analysis: don't forget, your phone isn't indestructible

Z Flip 3

(Image credit: Carlos Pedrós)

Smartphone makers have done a fantastic job of making their devices waterproof, dustproof and shockproof in recent years – even the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, which actually fold in half, come with an IPX8 rating for water resistance (covering submersion in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes).

As for Apple, the iPhone 12 models that it pushed out last year come with screen glass that's toughened by nano-ceramic crystals. That means the latest models are four times better able to withstand drops than the iPhone 11 devices from 2019, according to Apple.

However, even with all this extra protection, the new warning about motorcycle vibrations that Apple has now issued is a reminder that there are some very delicate components in our smartphones: and it's important to bear that in mind as these devices accompany us through the day.

The timing of publishing of the document is interesting too – MacRumors points out that the issue has been raised by users before, but is it possible that the iPhone 13 could have components that are even more susceptible to vibrations? We'll find out on Tuesday.

David Nield
Freelance Contributor

Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you'll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.