There have been grumbles in the Applesphere since the iPhone 5s launch from some owners who have experienced problems with the handset's onboard motion sensors, including the gyroscope, accelerometer, and compass. To test the nature of the complaints, the folks over at Gizmodo broke out a leveling tool and compass, among other things, revealing that something is indeed off with some of Apple's phones.
The first thing tested was an iPhone 5s's inclinometer, which was compared to the readings on a standard leveling tool, which you can see in the image above. In Gizmodo's tests, the handset was consistently between 2 and 3 degrees inaccurate when compared to the tool, though some users are reporting more severe problems double this test's numbers. The same test was performed with an iPhone 5 using iOS 7, and the reading was nearly spot on.
Not surprisingly, then, was the gyroscope test, which was consistently a few degrees off compared to the same test with an iPhone 5. When placed on a flat table, the iPhone 5 properly read 0-degrees, while the iPhone 5s read -3-degrees. The effects of this was further shown using the Real Racing 3 game from EA, where a flat surface resulted in the car veering to the left.
Following it all up was a test of the compass, which gave a fairly higher reading than the iPhone 5's compass -- to the tune of between 8 and 10 degrees. Both handsets were tested against an actual compass set to north, and neither was accurate, though the iPhone 5 was very close. The iPhone 5s, however, was very noticeably skewed and off by several degrees. Furthermore, the iPhone 5s experienced problems with the compass app freezing or having bad readings, forcing a restarting of the app.
The accelerometer wasn't given quite the same run through, but the tests that were performed showed latent motion being registered to a higher degree by the iPhone 5s. The question then remains -- is this a problem with the software or the hardware? Opinions abound, but there are a couple indications that these problems could be a result of the hardware itself.
The iPhone 5 used in the tests was also running iOS 7, and beyond that, the reading errors are different across the board, meaning that while one user's gyroscope might be 1 degree off, another could be 4 degrees off. Such points towards an issue with the sensors being improperly calibrated at the factory, in which case Apple could be looking at a large number of faulty handsets.