Bikes > Lifestyle

Big bikes can damage your smartphone’s camera

Consider leaving your device in your pocket while you ride

Do you mount your phone on your motorcycle's handlebar when you ride? PHOTO FROM HARLEY-DAVIDSON

It’s amazing how the recent advances in technology have allowed the smartphone to replace a lot of things that we deemed necessary in the past. It has come to a point where modern phone cameras are good enough to supplant point-and-shoot cameras in many situations. We even use them in some of our articles and videos.

Devices these days have blazingly fast autofocus (AF) and optical image stabilization (OIS) systems that allow you to take handheld shots in the dark, or incredibly smooth videos without the need for a gimbal.

But if you happen to be a motorcycle rider who mounts a phone on the handlebar, you could be slowly damaging your device’s AF and OIS features. In this recently published support document by Apple, it details how “high-amplitude vibrations within certain frequency ranges generated by high-power motorcycle engines” can degrade magnetic sensors and gyroscopes found in your smartphone’s camera.

The camera systems of modern smartphones are sensitive to vibration. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

In non-techie-speak, a high-horsepower motorbike will eventually destroy an attached phone’s AF and OIS equipment. Motorcycles with electric motors or smaller piston engines produce lower-amplitude vibrations, but it’s still not recommended to mount your device directly on the handlebar for prolonged periods of time.

While the notice comes from Apple, AF and OIS aren’t exclusive to iPhones. Products from rival manufacturers also have the same technology, so these problems extend to our friends with Android devices. Some high-end phones even have high-tech but fragile periscope-zoom lenses that can fall victim to vibrations from big-bike engines.

So, what do you need to do? Apple recommends that you utilize a vibration-dampening mount if you’ll attach a phone to a motorcycle with a small engine. For those riding big bikes, the tech giant advises users to simply put their devices in their pockets or backpacks.

Sam Surla

Sam is the youngest member of our editorial team. And he is our managing editor (believe it or not). He specializes in photography and videography, but he also happens to like writing about cars a lot.