Apple issues warning to iPhone users who ride a motorcycle

Iphone 12 Pro Pacific Blue Iphone 11 Midnight Green Blue
Iphone 12 Pro Pacific Blue Iphone 11 Midnight Green Blue (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has issued a warning to iPhone users who ride motorcycles.
  • The company says that vibrations from high-power motorcycle engines can damage your iPhone's camera.
  • It's all because of the iPhone's optical image stabilization technology.

Apple says that vibrations from the engines of high-power motorcycles can damage the camera on devices like the iPhone 12, in a new support document.

Published Friday, Apple states:

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.

Apple says the problem stems from its optical image stabilization (OIS) software, which it uses on all of its best iPhones to make images less blurry, compensating for hand movements whilst you take a picture. Another feature, closed-loop autofocus, which resists gravity and vibration to preserve sharp focus, is also at the heart of the issue.

Apple says that these systems are designed to be durable, but that they can be damaged by long-term and direct exposure to high amplitude vibrations:

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.

In particular, Apple says that high-power or high-volume motorcycle engines "generate intense high-amplitude vibrations, which are transmitted through the chassis and handlebars" which could damage an iPhone attached to the front of a bike for use with navigation or some other purpose. As such Apple says "it is not recommended to attach your iPhone to motorcycles with high-power or high-volume engines."

Apple says that this is less of a problem on smaller-engined bikes like scooters and mopeds, but that it might be worth using a vibration dampening mount and trying to limit exposure.

Apple's OIS tech is available in phones from the iPhone 6 Plus, 6s Plus, iPhone 7, and later.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9