Tests suggest some iPhone 5s motion sensors may be miscalibrated

Posted:
in iPhone edited January 2014
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.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    Apple is doomed and double-doomed. Let me use my boiler-plate text: This would never have happened if Steve Jobs were alive.

    /s
  • Reply 2 of 26
    krovekrove Posts: 1member
    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.
  • Reply 3 of 26
    So is there no re-calibration method?
  • Reply 4 of 26
    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?

  • Reply 5 of 26

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

  • Reply 6 of 26
    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,
  • Reply 7 of 26

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

  • Reply 8 of 26
    My 5s level is off by a good 3 degrees. :no::no:
  • Reply 9 of 26
    jakebjakeb Posts: 557member
    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.
  • Reply 10 of 26
    pendergastpendergast Posts: 1,358member

    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.

  • Reply 11 of 26
    sky kingsky king Posts: 189member

    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.

  • Reply 12 of 26
    markbyrnmarkbyrn Posts: 608member
    Not a degree difference between my iPhone 5S and iPhone 5
  • Reply 13 of 26
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,160member

    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. 

  • Reply 14 of 26
    sumergosumergo Posts: 199member
    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 ;-)

  • Reply 15 of 26
    dickprinterdickprinter Posts: 1,060member

    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? ;)

  • Reply 16 of 26
    mstonemstone Posts: 11,510member

    @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.

  • Reply 17 of 26
    sumergosumergo Posts: 199member

    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?

  • Reply 18 of 26
    cletuscletus Posts: 54member
    Ah, that's why so many are experiencing vertigo.
  • Reply 19 of 26
    tallest skiltallest skil Posts: 43,399member

    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.

  • Reply 20 of 26
    netroxnetrox Posts: 739member
    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?
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