Apple warns mounting iPhone on motorcycle may damage its camera

Apple has published a new support document advising iPhone owners to avoid certain high-amplitude vibrations, namely the kind you get from powerful motorcycle engines, in order to protect their phone's camera system. The newer iPhone models in particular have sophisticated camera technology, including optical image stabilization, that may be impaired by certain vibrations.

If you own a motorcycle, you may be tempted to attach your iPhone to the handlebars in order to record unique footage or simply to see navigation instructions with a GPS app. Doing this may, Apple says in its new support document, "degrade the performance of the camera system," resulting in poorer image quality going forward.

It seems two aspects of the camera system, in particular, are vulnerable to this issue: the optical image stabilization and closed-loop autofocus found on certain iPhone models. The OIS works to counteract small vibrations so the iPhone can capture sharp images; the closed-loop AF also helps mitigate vibration for high-quality images and videos.

In its support document, Apple says:

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.

For this reason, Apple is advising iPhone users to avoid attaching their phones to motorcycle handlebars and bodies if the vehicles have high-volume or high-power engines. In cases of motorized bikes like scooters that may produce lower-amplitude vibrations, Apple suggests using a vibration-dampening mount to reduce the iPhone's damage risk. Apple also notes, "It is also recommended to avoid regular use for prolonged periods to further lessen the risk of damage."