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Gyro-gate? Apple's iPhone 5s Motion Sensors Shown To Be Hugely Inaccurate

Gyro-gate? Apple's iPhone 5s Motion Sensors Shown To Be Hugely Inaccurate

October 4, 2013
Planning on using the Compass app's level feature on your iPhone 5s to hang a picture or two? Don't. Because according to a new report, the motion sensors on Apple's seventh-generation handset - including the gyroscope, on-board compass, and accelerometer - are hugely inaccurate. The news comes from Gizmodo, which conducted a series of tests. Pitting two iPhone 5s handsets against an iPhone 5 and a number of real-world measuring tools, the website showed how the new smartphone's on-board motion sensors are way off:

Since the iPhone 5S landed in the hands of new owners a few weeks ago, there have been reports that on-board sensors like the gyroscope, compass, and accelerometer haven't been working properly on some devices. We've confirmed the new iPhone's failings on our own. It's not just off. It's embarrassing.

We tested two iPhone 5S units running the latest version of iOS 7 against the iPhone 5, as well as against real-world measuring tools to find out if the new iPhone's sensors are off, and if they are, by how much. In most cases, we used the iPhone's built-in iOS 7 apps for measurements, working under the assumption that Apple would properly calibrate its hardware to work with the software of its own design. We were wrong.

How inaccurate, you ask?

Well, according to Gizmodo, the level feature in the built-in Compass app was off by two to three degrees, the gyroscope was out by three degrees also, and the Compass app's compass tool itself was off by a huge eight degrees.

Though this might not sound like much, inaccurate readings inhibit the iPhone's potential use as a replacement level or compass, and even screws up accelerometer- and gyroscope-powered iOS gaming. But can the problem be fixed?

Apple is said to be prepping a number of future updates to its iOS, including iOS 7.0.3 and - later down the line - iOS 7.1. However, Gizmodo explains that due to the consistency of the problem across multiple apps, and due also the fact that the problem doesn't seem to afflict iOS 7-powered iPhone 5 handsets, iPhone 5s hardware (rather than software) could be at fault.

In this case, a minor adjustment to future iPhone 5s handsets would be made by Apple in order to correct the problem, leaving the millions of customers who were quick to purchase the seventh-generation smartphone out of luck. "It's possible that Apple could push a calibration tool or software fix that accounts for the inconsistent hardware performance in existing handsets, but it's very unlikely that the company will take all of these phones back," the website concludes.


We'll keep you updated with further information as we receive it.

In the meantime, see: Benchmark Battle: iPhone 5s Versus Galaxy Note 3Grab Apple's iPhone 5c From Best Buy And Get A Free $50 Gift Card, and AOL: Mail, News, Weather & Video App Goes Universal For iPhone And iPod touch.

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