Motion sensors in iPhone 5s found to be inaccurate

Apple's new iPhone 5s is a bit inaccurate when it comes to its motion sensors, according to many new owners and reports. The motion sensors inside include a level, a gyroscope, a compass, and an accelerometer. All of them when compared to other iPhones like the iPhone 5 have been found to be a bit off.

Gizmodo did a test on the sensors and saw similar results. "We've confirmed the new iPhone's failings on our own. It's not just off. It's embarrassing," Mario Aguilar writes. As you can see in the image above, to the right is the iPhone 5 laying on a flat table and properly displaying that the table is, in fact, flat. On the left is the iPhone 5s laying on the same table, yet it is reading that the table surface is off by three degrees.

The same situation is happening with the other sensors. The compass points you slightly in the wrong direction, motion-based racing games steer slightly in the wrong direction, and the accelerometer detects extra motion.

Hopefully this can be fixed with a software update for the iPhone 5s. The motion sensors are hardware parts which makes repairability a bit more questionable, but the possibility of this being a software bug can't be entirely ruled out — at least not yet. Apple has yet to comment or confirm the motion sensor issues.

Source: Gizmodo | Image via Gizmodo

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43 Comments

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You know, I'm reading tons of articles like "iPhone 5S sensors totally wrong", "How to fix the most common major issues in iOS 7", etc, etc.

Yet people claim this iPhone to be the best yet? I guess people can overlook major problems, just because its an iPhone.

Except nobody claims that at all, aside from nerds on the internet. Seriously, as someone who works retail, that whole "smug Apple user" doesn't exist because they don't care who thinks what of which product they use; they just want something they like that works for them.

Worse yet, the same group of people who criticize Apple users for being "smug" about their phones will be the same ones to criticize others for their phones.

"You mean your phone isn't a quad core? Only has 1gb of RAM? Why don't you like... step into the future?"

I'm sure that 100% of the people buying the iPhone are buying it because its simple and works for them. It has nothing to due with just brand name recognition and trying to follow the crowd.

Apple may have a problem on its hands. No, I take that back. Apple definitely has a problem. The only questions are how hard will it be to address, and how much will it cost Apple-in money and reputation?

I saw a report yesterday from VentureBeat claiming that the iPhone 5s sensors are jacked. That article cites a Gizmodo investigation, which includes a number of test scenarios demonstrating how the iPhone 5s is off a few degrees

So i guess iphone 5s is more vulnerable and lest secure to be hack then Android !!!

It's more than likely a manufacturing glitch with how the sensor is mounted. Off just a fraction and you get this. Nothing a software update can't easily fix..

But of course. Apple is known for fixing their hardware glitches via software update. Like fixing signal strength issues by changing the algorithm that computes how many bars to display.

Obviously a calibration issue. Most likey due to the M7? Prob get sorted fairly quickly assuming u cant just recalibrate it yourself in some apps? Nothing that interesting, but wait... its Apple so. DOOOOOMED. Steve Jobs would never have allowed this. Tim Cook is gay. Isheeeps.

Once again Neowin has done it : unprofessional journalism at its best.

Just tap on the screen and you've re-calibrated it. Voilà.

It's more likely that the old iPhones were slightly off, too, but the new 64bit processor has simply doubled the error.

Oh no, hopefully it just needs a software update and it's not a bad batch of accelerometer silicon.

If it is some bad silicon Apple is going to be ****ed - it should have been tested properly before being given to Apple.

If it is hardware related, you can bet Apple won't comment on this until 3 years later, after everyone has bought a new phone anyway.

That's how corporations work. They take no responsibility. They just want your money.

Mackster said,
If it is hardware related, you can bet Apple won't comment on this until 3 years later, after everyone has bought a new phone anyway.

That's how corporations work. They take no responsibility. They just want your money.


I had no issues whatsoever with Apple admitting there was a known problem with the iPhone 5's lock button. They replaced my defective iPhone 5 with a new one and I was back outside within 15 minutes. Seems to me they took responsibility just fine.

it sounds to me more like a software bug or miss-calibration that can be fixed with a patch than TEH SENSORS ARE WORSEEEE OH NOOES, APPLE THEY EVEN HAVE TO CATCH UP TO THEIR PREVIOUS PRODUCTS!!1 kind of chatter.

Well the touchscreen of the iPhone5 has some problems too (not always registering swipes on certain parts of the screen and being less precise, I tested and/or asked around 20 people with devices build over a year, all confirmed this), wasn't fixed and ignored. At least this gets some attention in the press but it looks like Apple indeed can't reach their own level of quality from two/three years ago anymore.

dr_crabman said,
Well the touchscreen of the iPhone5 has some problems too (not always registering swipes on certain parts of the screen and being less precise, I tested and/or asked around 20 people with devices build over a year, all confirmed this), wasn't fixed and ignored. At least this gets some attention in the press but it looks like Apple indeed can't reach their own level of quality from two/three years ago anymore.

Just out of curiosity, have these issues appeared in their iPhone 5C?

Temporary workaround for the level; put the level on a known flat surface and tap on the screen once. This tells it that the current orientation is flat.

You can then use it on your maybe-not-flat surface and it will work fine.

The sensors are a little off, but they update okay when you move (albeit still a little off) so should hopefully be an easy software fix.

Weren't those new coprocessor-assisted sensors supposed to be "the next big thing"? Good to know they didn't even make sure they worked.

satus said,
No. It is not a problem.... it is because

The earth tilts inaccurately /s

The changes in the Earth's orbital tilt and precession (or the wobbling motion) occur because of gravitational forces emanating from other bodies in the solar system. This tilt changes between roughly 22 and 25 degrees about every 41,000 years, while the precession varies on about a 26,000-year period. These cycles have been determined by astronomers and validated by geologists studying ocean sediment records.

22° - 25° = -3° see? That's exactly like it should work, it was every previous phone reporting the tilt wrong. Also, Half life -3 confirmed.

I hope it's an error with calibration at the factory rather than the sensors themselves. Apple didn't design the motion sensors; third parties did.

They might not have made them, but they carefully selected them for their premium phone, passed them through their premium quality control and traded premium dollars for them.

They can't pass the blame to someone else. That being said, it's most likely software. I doubt something this big was able to slip though QC, although even if it is software, it seems sloppy if it was let through SQC

68k said,
I hope it's an error with calibration at the factory rather than the sensors themselves. Apple didn't design the motion sensors; third parties did.

Apple designed and tested the product and I buy the phone from them. So who designed the sensors is irrelevant to me as a consumer. It's Apple's responsibility to make sure they have a working product.

That said it's unclear how many iPhones are actually affected by this. The article gives the impression it's every iPhone 5s, something I seriously doubt.

.Neo said,

Apple designed and tested the product and I buy the phone from them. So who designed the sensors is irrelevant to me as a consumer. It's Apple's responsibility to make sure they have a working product.

That said it's unclear how many iPhones are actually affected by this. The article gives the impression it's every iPhone 5s, something I seriously doubt.

Mine is off by 2 degrees. Well, the level is. I haven't tried the compass.

If all of the sensors are slightly off, that seems to me to indicate a software issue. It's unlikely all of them would have hardware faults. Unless it's something to do with the M7.

Software does not seem to be at fault, as some 5s devices are unaffected, and only 5s models are at risk of this (no reports of upgraded iPhones having the issue)

If you read the whole Gizmodo article, he makes a pretty strong argument why this issue is likely an initial calibration problem, which cannot be fixed by a simple software update (but could be fixed at an Apple store if they have the right hardware to properly calibrate it. That part's not in the article, I'm just musing)

68k said,
I hope it's an error with calibration at the factory rather than the sensors themselves. Apple didn't design the motion sensors; third parties did.

That doesn't change the fact that Apple markets themselves as selling the complete widget and that they take responsibility for for everything that goes into the product itself. End of the day though we'll have to find out how this will be addressed either via a software or firmware update.