iPhone 5, iPod touch 5 touchscreens responding oddly to multiple, rapid diagonal swipes

The iPhone 5 appears to be exhibiting odd touch behavior when it comes to consistent detection of multiple swipe events over time. On an iPhone 4S, you can begin rapidly swiping back and forth and iOS will easily keep pace, scrolling the view to match your mad swiping, even as you start angling towards the diagonal. On an iPhone 5, however, while vertical scrolling remains fine, rapid diagonal scrolling (approaching 45 degrees) will drop off, as though iOS simply tires of detecting the gestures. The issue was first reported by CMA Megacorp on Twitter, noting:

Slide finger back and forth diagonally on screen, input events drop out or stop altogether.

I was able to reproduce the behavior on an iPhone 5 with Mail.app, Contacts.app, and Tweetbot (though a couple of times in Tweetbot rapid diagonal swiping worked fine for without any drop off), Brushes (paint strokes stopped appearing), the iMore app, and more. I was also able to reproduce the same behavior on an iPod touch 5 using the same apps. Various devices were running iOS 6, iOS 6.0.1, and iOS 6.1 beta. That means it's not restricted to one control, like UITableView, or one version of iOS 6.

I was not able to reproduce the behavior at all on an iPhone 4S or iPad 4. That may indicate the issue is unique to Apple's new 4-inch, 16:9 in-cell display devices and/or the software driving them.

Due to the angle, rapidity, and consistency needed to trigger the drop, it's not a problem most apps or developers will ever face. Games and game developers on the other hand, could well encounter it.

Recombu produced the following video highlighting the behavior.

Source: @CMA_Megacorp via Recombu

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Seems like a non-issue to me. I can only replicate this if my finger goes over the edge of the screen as if the anti-accidental touch kicks in. It immediately responds again if I take my finger off the screen and start again. It may be a minor glitch with that detection but really what game is going to have you constantly touching the screen without lifting while performing these motions???
  • Why would anyone in their right mind be sitting there rapidly scrolling back and forth? I couldn't care less if my iPhone 5 does this because I don't sit and play with the scrolling on my iPhone 5.
  • If you are playing a game for example. In the video they mention Fruit Ninja.
  • That is incorrect..... if your playing fruit ninja ( and your actually good at the game) then you dont swipe any where near as fast as he swipes and its not simply swiping from side to side but its in all directions or with two fingers for blades This is not an issue.........
  • Why does it matter if your good or not? If you have your child playing the game or for the few that are not Pro at the game then it something your going to notice. *smh*
  • You don't need to be a Pro. The purpose of the game isn't to swipe at anything that moves. It's to swipe at things that move, while avoiding others. And if you have a child, that has the age to be playing something, with the score as a goal, he is old enough to understand the concept of the game. If he's young enough to not understand the purpose of the game, a subtle break in "scrolling" isn't going to affect his entertainment. Also, has anyone even managed to replicate this in any game? Like i said before, if this could be demonstrated at different speeds and/or angles it would be an issue, software or otherwise. Like this, it's not.
  • So this is only a "You're playing it wrong" issue?
    You don't happen to work for Apple-support do you?
  • Exactly! I can't imagine any real situation anyone would be doing that sort of movement in a screen, besides a 2 year old, or a chimpanzee playing Fruit Ninja (and i'm pretty sure none of them would mind the stop of scrolling, or score). If this could be demonstrated at different speeds and/or angles it would be an issue. Like this, it's not.
  • Hello you have a flaw with your $650-$850 phone, i don't know about you but i would definitely care.
  • It is not a flaw for me, especially when viewing porn.
  • I have the same problem but it's so bad that u don't even have to rapidly swipe back and forth it can't keep the track of my finger even when I go at a slow pace
  • Yes I've experience something similar with my iPhone 5....although I've been ignoring it and all this time I thought it was just me....
  • It looks like the phone is saying 'Enough already!! Stop being an idiot!!' Doesn't look like a glitch, so much as a fix.
  • I would guess if this is a wide spread issue Infinity Blade would behave oddly. It does not.
  • Exactly. I play IB all the time. Never noticed any odd behavior. and why would you do that in mail?
  • With all due respect Rene, who cares about this? I just did it and yes it did drop off a little. but only when i swiped very fast. I played Fruit Ninja after and nothing, no drop off. So to me this is a non issue. I can understand bringing this up , in a curious "why is this happening" manner though.
  • I don't know if I'd call it a bug unless an actual use-case scenario could be reproduced. Scrubbing your finger as fast as you can in mail...? Really?
  • Really people you never play games where you are rapidly move your finger ? I've noticed it and now know others have noticed it. It's not that big of deal but combined with all of the other issues apple is having lately it makes you wonder. I would tell my nightmare of a story dealing with the iPhone 5 (and i really want too) but its too long and drawn out let's just say it was enough to make me not buy the iPad mini and Mac book with retina display. Two products I actually wanted. I'm just sick of people down playing everything ( "oh I don't care about scratches on my brand new phone it gives it character " ) really ? Quit riding apples jock they're far from perfect these days.
  • i've never seen anyone jerk an iphone screen before. i wish i had this kind of free time
  • +1
  • Who gives a crap? Why would you do that?
  • i seem to have more bad scrolling issues or jitters on the screen...especially when my iphone 5 is plugged in for charging to A/C.
  • i have an iphone 4 running ios 6.01 and I can confirm that it is doing that also so it may be software and I found it's when my finger touches the outer edge of the screen that it stops
  • Same for me and apple did nothing about it when I went to the Genius Bar!!
  • I tried it over and over with my iPhone 5 running iOS 6.0.1 and I couldn't get it to do it. Though, my iPhone is in an Otter box. Maybe it only happens when your finger leaves the edge of the screen.
  • This is why my Fruit Ninja score has been sucking lately.
  • Some people see this as an issue.... I see it as someone with two much free time on their hands looking for things to complain about. Unless they can find a real case scenario in which this would be a problem this was a waste of a post on all tech sites
  • Agree!
  • Seems like kind of a silly issue, but heres two cents worth. It might be iOS 6.x... I can reproduce it on my ipad 2 (runnuing 6.0.1), just sayin'.
  • The article indicates it's only on the iPhone 5. While this may not sound like a big deal, it's certainly important that this issue is fixed for certain apps. Apple is slacking...
  • ERMAHGAWD! Quite possibly the stupidest thing someone can find wrong with the iPhone 5. C'mon give it a break. iPhone 5 is a great phone. Leave it alone.
  • hmmm can't seem to replicate this problem on my Samsung Galaxy SIII...
  • screen probably doesnt recognize you finger. you have to do it in the same proportions as the iphone 5. so try your elbow.
  • I tried running my entire foot on the screen diagonally but still nothing :( iSad.
  • Troll alert. Nice comment, jerk wad.
  • Before anyone decided to blast me for saying anything about the iPhone know that i own 2 iPads, 2 iPhones, and a iPod Touch. Why do you guys think that this is a non-issue? i never had a issue from my iPhone 3gs, 4 and my iPhone 4s with the touch screen and know there seem to be nothing but these little issues coming from the iPhone 5 and everyone seems to brush it off a minor issues. This should be bothersome to most of you each year we sell our old phones to get money back to go to the new phone only to find out that the new phone is having more issues then the previous model.
  • probably people think its a non issue because its a result of doing something that you would never do. when do you look at your mail like that? its like saying well the screen cracks when you hit it with a hammer. its something you wouldnt do unless you want that result. the other reason its not a big deal is because im pretty sure its a software issue and will get fixed soon, because for me as i've tested and posted below, its only happening when the finger goes into the extended screen areas of the iphone 5. i cant get it to happen when i keep my finger in the center inside what would be a normal iphone 4 screen size. also doesnt happen in fruit ninja for me because that game is the size of a normal iphone 4 screen. and would explain why previous models dont have the issue. that bit of code for the extended parts isnt on old iphones. im pretty sure its an issue that will get fixed in an update.
  • AHEM...
    so all this talk about how it would effect fruit ninja (even if you are playing like a 4 year old) Have any of you actually tried it on fruit ninja? because while i can get this to occur very easily on mail... when i loaded up fruit ninja and tried to make it happen, i could not. and i went even faster swiping in that diagonal motion than i did in mail. i just could not get it to happen. has anyone gotten it to happen outside of mail? just curious.
  • I get it on every app, even the home screen, when my iPod 5 is plugged in.
  • Exactly same problem for me. I have had it for 2 days and it jacked up all the time. Clicking apps and buttons I don't wants. Sometimes when I don't even have it plugged in. Makes me so mad I want to break it in half over my knee
  • Iphone 5 32gb i test it many times no problem ! iOS 6.0.1
    iphone 4 16gb yes! ios 5.1.1 I dont believe its truth that problem with the scrolling !!
  • Also, not sure if anyone else has gotten this. But as far as this issue goes...
    at least on mine, it does NOT seem to have that issue if you do it within the normal size area of a previous iphone. So on mail, if you rapidly do that in the center within an area of the normal screen size of an iphone 4s, then it behaves normal, if your finger goes outside into the extended areas of the screen top and bottom, then it happens.
    this would also explain why this does not happen on fruit ninja, as the screen is the old size, not the wide screen. just throwin that out there if anyone wants to experiment on theirs.
  • Don't let the general press see this!!! 'Diagonal-Swipe-Gate' dismays new iPhone 5 customers.
    AAPL stock took a 20% hit today after it was discovered that Apple covered up a critical design flaw in their new iPhone 5.
    It is also suspected that this tremendous flaw may exist in more of their product line. If so, expect another hit to the stock price. Spokespersons from both Google and Microsoft confirmed that this may just be the Achilles' heel of Apple. Work is already underway by both companies to exploit this advantage of their product lines over the iPhone 5 in their upcoming advertising campaigns. John Doe, marketing manager for Microsoft remarked, "Studies indicate that our substantial customer base of morons simply love rapid diagonal swiping motions. The lack of such a magical feature on the iPhone is going to be a great boon for our product line." One only has to recall the famous "Monkey Dance" of Microsoft's great CEO to see why. While Google didn't indicate why this feature was so important, they did confirm that they somehow missed it on the product feature lists, and that it would certainly find it's way to near the top of their product comparison charts. Google representative, Sam Smith noted that web-board everywhere were already ablaze with Android users teasing Apple fanboys that they simply couldn't compete in terms of number of repetitive diagonal swipes per second. "Apple customers can only hang their heads in shame," he remarked.
  • https://twitter.com/CMA_Megacorp/status/267582135668449280 CMA Megacorp has updated on this saying it's only in single touch environments and is most likely software. Most games, Fruit Ninja included are immune from the issue. (multitouch)
  • We're currently developing a game where this issue has been a significant problem. We were trying everything thinking it was a bug in our code, but thanks to this article, we're not going to be waste hours and hours of trying to fix something we obviously have no control over. I hope the guys at Apple see this and have a big fix in the near future.
  • I found this problem it stuck when you go to answer the call rabitly , or when you to scro
    ll flight mode the touch stuck .
  • I have had thins problem only when my lightning connector is plugged in. I have the 32 GB red iPod. When I brought it to an Apple store 2 days ago the Genius Bar technician said it was a grounding issue. He cleaned out the connector then it stopped doing it.... Or so I thought. It started again yesterday. Whenever I touch the screen when my iPod is plugged in it senses in a different spot than where I touch. And if you do a lot if typing, like me, it gets annoying! I haven't had this problem on my iPad 4, so I think it is only the phone and iPods that do this. Right now I have it plugged in and it is making it hard to type. I think it is either the new 4" screens or the new connectors messing up the touch sensitivity! Please reply if you are having the same problem!