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Tests suggest some iPhone 5s motion sensors may be miscalibrated

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
Apple's iPhone line is known for its build quality and reliability, but a recent examination appears to show that the sensors in at least some models of the iPhone 5s are noticeably miscalibrated.



Developers of many apps have taken advantage of the sensors Apple builds into its bestselling handsets, using the technology for games, measurements, navigation, and more. Now a series of tests conducted by Gizmodo on two separate iPhone 5s units show those units giving inaccurate measures for the device's level, accelerometer, compass, and gyroscope.

The tests compared the iPhone 5s' results against those of the iPhone 5 and a number of dedicated physical measuring tools. In testing the device's leveling calibration, the iPhone 5s' readout was 2-3 degrees off when compared against a Stanley spirit level. Other users reported that the 5s' readout was off by 4-6 degrees. The iPhone 5, though, gave a reading nearly identical to the physical level, indicating that hardware could be the issue.

The gyroscopic function in the iPhone 5s ? which relies on the same hardware as the inclinometer ? fared little better. The iPhone 5 showed the expected 0-degree readout when set on a level table. The iPhone 5s, however, showed -3 degrees off level.

In additional tests, the compass app on the iPhone 5 showed a more accurate reading for magnetic north when compared against a real compass than it did on the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5 and 5s were consistently measured at 8-10 degrees apart. The accelerometer on the newer iPhone also reliably registered more latent motion than did the one in the iPhone 5.

Gizmodo notes that its testing is far from conclusive, but that it is in line with what has been seen in other tests of the device's sensors. It is unclear to what extent the flawed readings stem from hardware, but the report expresses confidence that at least some of the problem could be mitigated with a software update. A number of users have reportedly taken their devices back to exchange them, and some of those report that the problem has disappeared.
post #2 of 27
Apple is doomed and double-doomed. Let me use my boiler-plate text: This would never have happened if Steve Jobs were alive.

/s
post #3 of 27
I'm not sure about the accuracy of the compass reading.

For the inclinometer, if you tap the screen, it will reset whatever orientation the iPhone is at to 0 deg. While the default may be off, perhaps just resetting will fix some of the errant readings. Seems like another tempest in a teapot.
Edited by krove - 10/3/13 at 1:34pm
post #4 of 27
So is there no re-calibration method?
post #5 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

Apple is doomed and double-doomed. Let me use my boiler-plate text: This would never have happened if Steve Jobs were alive.

/s

 

Or at least such repetitive, meaningless posts wouldn't occur. zzzz

 

Have you no desire to appear intelligent and original?

post #6 of 27

All you have to do is tap the screen and it recalibrates. Problem solved...

post #7 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by baseballrob99 View Post

All you have to do is tap the screen and it recalibrates. Problem solved...
Thanks for the help my iPhone 5 was -1 on flat surfaces,
post #8 of 27

Though this is only a temporary fix because a second tap will return it to it's default calibration...

post #9 of 27
My 5s level is off by a good 3 degrees. 1oyvey.gif1oyvey.gif
post #10 of 27
I noticed this at the Apple store with the 5s. So many of them had icons shifted to one side or the other because of the parallax effect.
post #11 of 27

I can confirm this. Tested with my 5S: -2 to -4 degrees registered on several flat surfaces. 

 

A quick test of a friend's iPhone 5 reads a perfect 0 degrees.

 

Hopefully it's a software update, otherwise I'll be making a Genius Bar appointment.

post #12 of 27

Other things that would not have happened

1.  iOS7 would have increased functionality a lot but changed the user interface hardly at all (because it was good and getting better)

2.  There would be no colored iPhones

 

Something that would have happened:  Steve would have removed Jony Ive from control over iOS7 and anything else that has to do with user interface.

 

I am sick to the teeth of Apple guys accusing me of simply resisting change.  I only resist change when it accomplishes nothing.

SkyKing
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SkyKing
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post #13 of 27
Not a degree difference between my iPhone 5S and iPhone 5
post #14 of 27

I actually had been wondering about this. I was using the 5s to hang some pictures the other day. My 5s was always a few degrees off. It's always either -2 or -3 on flat surfaces. I'm not too worried about it though. If there is an issue, I'm sure Apple will fix it soon. 

post #15 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sky King View Post
 

Other things that would not have happened

1.  iOS7 would have increased functionality a lot but changed the user interface hardly at all (because it was good and getting better)

2.  There would be no colored iPhones

 

Something that would have happened:  Steve would have removed Jony Ive from control over iOS7 and anything else that has to do with user interface.

 

I am sick to the teeth of Apple guys accusing me of simply resisting change.  I only resist change when it accomplishes nothing.

 

Agreed.

 

I think that Sir Jony is an excellent designer of cool, clean hardware products, but the iOS7 interface takes "minimalism" to an unnecessary and confusing extreme, changing the look & feel for no apparent reason.  Some of the changes in iOS7 not only accomplish nothing, they are retrograde.

Skeuomorphism is a good usability tool because it links interface functionality in an intuitive way to known objects (like a contact app that looks like an address book or a calendar that looks like a calendar) - it makes the interface more easy to use by eliminating the need to search for a function.

Usability is not the same as graphic design - usability is about making the interface disappear as far as possible - graphic design is more about pixels and paint.

 

I doubt you'll get much agreement about these concepts on this forum though ;-)

post #16 of 27

Now it makes sense. I built a table using no tools other than my iPhone. It has a ruler app and a leveling app so why would I need anything else? I even used two perpendicular sides as a speed square and the edge to hammer nails. When I was done I placed it in the middle of my kitchen and put my iPhone on top to do some last minute leveling. The table was soooo crooked, out of square and un-level that my iPhone slid off the table and smashed on the floor. 

 

Since I used my iPhone as the sole tool to create my table and it smashed to bits when it slid off the table, can I sue Apple for a new phone because of faulty hardware? ;)

Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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Why does Apple bashing and trolling make people feel so good?

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post #17 of 27

@flat surface people

 

Floors/tables are usually flat surfaces, but it doesn't mean they are level. As the article mentions, you have to use some other accurate measuring device as a control, such as a spirt level.

Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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Life is too short to drink bad coffee.

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post #18 of 27

I'm running iOS7 on an iPhone 4.  Can't say much about the level (I'll leave that to DickPrinter's lovely post!), but the compass is inaccurate when lying on my (level or not) desk surface but corrects when I pick it up and move around.  Perhaps the compass is confused about Magnetic North by the metal frames, screws etc., of the desk?

post #19 of 27
Ah, that's why so many are experiencing vertigo.
post #20 of 27
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post
tests conducted by Gizmodo

 

And why are we believing them?

 
Originally Posted by StruckPaper View Post
Have you no desire to appear intelligent and original?

 

Sar. casm.

Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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Originally posted by Marvin

Even if [the 5.5” iPhone] exists, it doesn’t deserve to.
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post #21 of 27
how is it miscalibrated when you have to calibrate in the first place? I am not sure but sometimes when I open the compass, I get a message saying to please move it around to recalibrate. It should know by then that it's being calibrated or is the issue more of a hardware where it keeps losing its saved data?
post #22 of 27
Motion Gate!
Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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Been using Apple since Apple ][ - Long on AAPL so biased
nMac Pro 6 Core, MacBookPro i7, MacBookPro i5, iPhones 5 and 5s, iPad Air, 2013 Mac mini, SE30, IIFx, Towers; G4 & G3.
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post #23 of 27
Quote:
Originally Posted by StruckPaper View Post

Or at least such repetitive, meaningless posts wouldn't occur. zzzz

Have you no desire to appear intelligent and original?

Ahhhh, it is not meaningless as you claimed, why because these link bait blogs are persistently find for faults after every new OS or iPhone are introduced to get more hits.

One more thing what is original nowadays, even you comment of a comment isn't.
post #24 of 27

Hmmm ... my 5s asks to join WiFi networks when I'm driving.  Thought that wasn't supposed to happen with the M7 & iOS 7.  Maybe I've got a bad M7.  Anyone else experience this?

post #25 of 27
Really? You're that bent out shape because of a uncalibrated inclinometer, or is this sarcasm? If not I have better things to worry about.
post #26 of 27

I am not a technician but rather an interested but confused iPhone 5s buyer who wants to know if I made the right investment for 900 EUR (here in Germany).

If I buy a technical device/gadget I want to be sure that the new version - is at least - made with the same quality components - if not better ones - than the previous generation (in my case an iPhone 4s).

"Don't fix if it aint broke!"
 
So in my research I found this newsletter online:
http://newsletter.spezial.de/home/article/146/digitale-beschleunigungs-sensoren

It is in GERMAN and describes the different motion sensors manufactured by Bosch/Germany.
One of those sensors - the BMA220 (ironically) the cheapest one - gets compared to the others from Bosch.
The BMA220 is presumably the one built into the iPhone 5s and is said to have a resolution of 6bit.

 

The last sentence made me think (I try to translate as good as I can):
"Sensors with a 6-bit resolution are suited very well for simple tasks like Landscape/Portrait switchings of displays or an upside/down recognition (PLUD) of devices.
-> Due to its high sensitivity the high-resolution sensor BMA180 can also be used as a digital (spirit) level."

 

The BMA180 has a resolution of 14bit vs. the 6bit resolution of the BMA220 supposedly used in the iPhone 5s.
In the iPhone 5 they used a motion sensor from a different company that had 16bit resolution.

 

So I wonder:
Was the BMA220 ever considered to be used as spirit level by the manufacturer ???
Has Apple chosen the BMA220 because it much cheaper BUT also needs less power in order to work with the new M7 ?

I don't know but maybe that could be the reason why those levels in the iPhone 5s are not as accurate as in the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4s….

 

Maybe a software update can fix it. I have no idea how it works technically but in my opinion it should not be that hard to tell the software that the readout has to be corrected for a certain amount before it is gonna be displayed in the app. That is what I would call calibration.


BUT I could only accept that when it is corrected SYSTEMWIDE in the iPhone software. It makes no sense to have a calibrated spirit level app when the panorama photo function or games are crooked.

Just my 2 cents…
If they don't fix it in the next 12 days I am gonna give it back in the return period and wait until it is fixed.
I can wait.

PS: My digital level is off 1° but still it bugs me in my photo capture software (Camera+) because the horizon is a little bit off.

post #27 of 27
Mine was off by 4-6 degrees. Took it to an apple store and they confirmed that most of the 5s they tested had the issue but there was no fix. They swapped my phone out and the new one which is still from the initial batch they got is off by 2-3 degrees. Hurray...
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