Sensorgate: Apple iPhone 5c also exhibiting sensor issues, too

“Four days ago, I tested my iPhone 5S sensors and found that the phone’s level and gyroscope sensors were reporting anomalous data, data that was very different from what my iPhone 5 was reporting — and different from what other, analog sensors, such as a simple mechanical bubble level, were telling me9,” John Koetsier reports for VentureBeat.

“Today, after no comments from Apple, I also tested my iPhone 5C and discovered similar issues,” Koetsier reports. “The sensors in the iPhone 5S and the iPhone 5C are simply not accurate. At least, not in my models, and certainly not in the models of others on Apple support forums, or in Gizmodo’s testing.”

“I’ve been in touch with an Apple representative on these issues, and received responses, but Apple has not released a statement on the issue, or given any guidance on what might be happening here — whether it’s a software issue, a calibration issue, or the worst-case scenario: damaged sensor hardware,” Koetsier reports. “Unfixable sensor problems would put a dent in Apple’s reputation as the company that sweats the small stuff to get every last detail right.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Joe Architect” for the heads up.]

Related article:
Sensorgate: iPhone 5s sensor malfunctions may be widespread (with video) – October 4, 2013

88 Comments

    1. Did MSFT build this thing? Wonder if the Chinese manufacturer would try to take down Apple a few notches by shorting these new devices of completely functional sensors? This could be very damaging if it cannot be fixed vids software.

      1. How about we actually see if there’s an issue here, as opposed to jumping to conclusions. Apple generally doesn’t release releases about how it intends to respond to problems, real or perceived, which isn’t to say that it isn’t doing anything.

        1. Yes please. The issue sounds real. But we know nothing about the scope, whether it is isolated to a particular batch of parts, whether it’s Samsung sabotage (wouldn’t put it past the) or the effect of poltergeist. There’s a lot more information to come before this issue get’s nailed down. I wouldn’t dismiss it, but I also don’t see any reason to go all PaNiC over it yet.

      2. Hardly feasible, since these sensors aren’t just in Apple’s devices. More than likely it’s an iOS 7 compiler issue. Meaning these Apps had to be recompiled into two versions. One in 64bit for iPhone 5s and one for the new hardware in the cheaper 5c that could also run on legacy devices in 32bit. One or the other has to be emulated or virtualized on whatever chip is installed.

        More than likely we’ll see more problems with Apps in using the hardware of both these new devices. Probably more than we’ll see on legacy devices with iOS 7 installed. So in reality this is nothing to get too excited about just yet. But it does expose the fact that they are using the same technique they used to get 64bit Apps running on OS X installed on 64bit IBM PowerPC chips.

        A fiasco waiting to happen? Hardly….. just some bugs to work out and a face saving admission that in all reality iOS 7 isn’t a ground up developed 64bit system!!! 😀

    2. I am guessing just like antenna gate there is nothing here at all, they are just trying to do some dame to the surge of iPhone sales going on.

      It is interesting (as someone who uses the feature) that all the high precision level or grade apps I use have calibration functions (turn the phone 180deg so it can determine the error)
      Because this has always been the case I am willing to bet that just like antenna gate there is a natural tendency for the sensors to require calibration (if being used to determine sub 1% accuracy (and remember given 360deg even a 3deg error would be a sub 1% error))
      I am betting that the sensors in all phones need calibration to be use at high accuracy and that someone (samsung? google?) is just attempting to spin this as an apple flaw
      Which if you remember is exactly the same as they did with antennagate, where they took the fact all cell phones loose signal if you wrap your hand around the antenna and painted is as an iPhone flaw.
      There was nothing wrong with the iPhone 4 and I am betting there is nothing wrong with the 5s or the 5C

      1. Yep… just as I supposed-
        I had some time so I deleted and reloaded the two apps I use most for grade/angle measurement (to clear the calibrations stored in preferences) on my iPhone 5 (not 5s): Clinometer by Breitlinger (for reading incline & grade) and Hunter Research’s Theodolite (basically software version of a modern surveyors theodolite (obviously not as accurate as a surveying instrument which can read down to a few seconds))

        Anyway… with calibrations deleted both read a couple degrees off in both axises (accuracy ~±5 thousandths) (and both apps specify that you should calibrate the app)
        After calibration (takes about 30 seconds) bit could accurately read down to a few ten-thousandths. Just so you get how amazing that is the equates to the theodolite being accurate down to a couple minutes of arc (60 minutes in a degree) Not too shabby, for a phone.
        And I am willing to bet that every smartphone behaves similarly (hell… you even need to calibrate a $5,000 theodolite) and that this is yet another deception by samsung.

        Let me ask you samsung fans, aren’t you tired of being lied in an attempt to manipulate your loyalty (remember the benchmark shenanigans samsung did that was discovered last week? (mmm and perhaps that is the point of this latest FUD campaign: to get people on to something other than that samsung engineered their devices to cheat on benchmarks?)

        1. How in the World do you get Samsung into this? Basically this whole compass sensor thing has been recently born from people completely disassociated from Samsung. Hate all you want and even though Apple’s fans have good reason to hate Samsung, with them now almost tripling up on Apple’s sales, Samsung is doing it by competing legitimately. They don’t need to use the Marketing FUD fools like you, Microsoft and Apple pump out!

          Remember “Embrace Extend Extinguish” Apple’s buddy Microsoft’s way of using Anti-competitive FUD Marketing to kill competition that’s getting ahead of them! ……and Samsung can’t do that because their competition are also their customers too!

          So put the blame where it belongs on the online writers promoting this Sensorgate issue. Which probably isn’t a hardware or software problem after all. It’s simply a lack of calibration or the fact that Deviation (the affect of magnetic forces in the immediate environment) can’t be compensated for on the device itself. Only Declination can be adjusted according to the device’s location on the earth!

          1. How do I get samsung into this?
            Because I think it’s likely that they are the origin of this “gate” (attempting to slow the tsunami of iPhone sales (as I understand the 5C and the 5s are each outselling their s4))
            Don’t you think it is a wee bit coincidental that this came out days after it was published that samsung engineered their products to cheat on benchmarks and the interweb’s news echo chamber now reverberates with sensor gate rather than samsung’s having cheated the benchmarks?

            1. I might as well be posting in the air…. with all you Airheads convinced your Tin Foil Hats enable you to see the truth. I basically am dissing this as FUD just like you fools. Only I don’t have a Tin Foil Samsung Hater Hat like some of you iDiots! …..try to help and all I get is morons that can’t understand how foolish it’d be for Samsung to push out FUD like this on their #1 Parts Customer!

              No doubt if any of you have a real brain of your own, you can figure that out. No company in it’s right mind, is going to want their best customer to not sell their own devices and do well. Right now Samsung is making a lot of money off Apple and you Apple fans. But I’m sure I’m really talking to wall of Tin Foil Hat wearing Haters!!! Grow UP!

            2. Samsung by nearly all accounts is a despicable company; specifically engineering their phones to cheat on benchmarks, bribing (or extorting) attorneys to give them privileged court documents they should not see, paying bloggers to pose as independents and bash competitors while trumpeting samsungs products (“astroturfing”), the list goes on and on (and that is just the last month!!)
              They are no doubt aware that they are loosing apple as a customer, so the main “argument” of your silly premise falls flat.

              So you (as an apple hater) are now trolling an apple news site, and we are the ones with no brains?? I don’t know if you are trolling for free or are one of the paid astroturfers, but either way is pretty sad. You need to take a long hard look at what your life has become.

            3. Why yes… I was wondering about that myself. Since Samsung BenchGate was probably backdoored funded by yours truly, Applewellian FUD and Propaganda Machine that just reported the Tsunami, that Samsung more than doubled Apple’s smartphone sales in the September quarter!

              But….. wait, I’m not done yet as I already know you’ll qualify that as “September iPhone sales beat Samsung’s” or “Apple still makes more profits”. Which just more of your sock puppet nonsense and distorted sense of REALITY!

              Because the truth not only Samsung make greater profits overall, but if you compared phone division to phone division, Samsung beat them there too! :DDD

              Warping the truth seems to occupy most of you super fan’s time on the web! ….ah hey no wonder Apple claims to have more people actually using their devices on the web. It’s all being used by paid shills like YOU!

      2. @ Tessellator

        You can’t be serious. ANTENNAGATE was real how ever, other phones can suffer from it too, depending on how you hold them. Apple unfortunately placed the space between the antennas just at the wrong spots. In the keynote where the phone was unveiled Steve was bragging about this new antenna system and actually pointed out the little black band in the steel frame and what it was there and why Apple would break the nice design like that. Of course, you could hold the phone differently and you could not get any problems but most people’s just pick up the phones, or if you got big hands. They mitigated it and solved it in the S4, I guess, I never heard any problems reported about that after 4. Even if people, some people were holding it wrong it would be insane NOT for Apple’s engineers not to redesign the antenna.

      1. Well perhaps it not a really problem at all.
        Like antennagate which was “supposedly” such a huge problem for so many iphone users…
        Until Steve Jobs announced that anyone could return their phone, no questions asked, for a full refund (and undoing any carrier contracts) and guess what…
        virtually no one (far less than 1%) actually wanted to return their iPhone 4’s

        Nope, this is very likely just a “sales prevention” tactic. Anyone who has new iPhone, knows it’s nonsense.
        Where this could be effective is attempting to put fear uncertainly and dread into the minds of -potential- buyers particularly those afflicted with one of the second rate iPhone knock off’s that were considering making the jump to a real iPhone.

  1. If you look closely, the (level) iPhone 5 is sitting on top of the iPhone 5s volume switch.

    Why hasn’t the native Apple utility app been used to demonstrate this *issue* rather then some wooden POS looking app? #icallbullshit

  2. My daughter’s 5s is fine, same results as my 5. My 5s arrives thursday, I will report on that. I do not see why 5c should be bad, it does not have 7 chip. Assuming chip is the problem.

  3. I’ve got 2 iPhone 5s units, 2 iPhone 5 units and 1 HTC ONE on my desk right now. If the two 5s’s get close to one another they freak out presumably due to interference, but it makes me wonder just how sensitive the 5s is to interference.

    I’ve gone through calibration on them all and at times they ALL show wildly different readings. If I go through the old fashioned calibrarion (figure 8) they at least start getting directions right.

    If I check level, i.e. put the my iphone 5s flat down on the desk it shows -1, so do the iPhone 5 units. I’m not sure what’s going on.

        1. You’re right though. That’s why I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. Even my HTC ONE is off the wall when too close to the other phones. I assume a real compass would do the same thing if you held it next to another compass! Never held one in my life, but now I’m curious enough to buy one.

          1. “I assume a real compass would do the same thing if you held it next to another compass!”

            That’s correct. Any magnet will attract another.
            And not only that – a compass will be deflected by the electro-magnetic field around electrical wiring or apparatus.
            Or by masses of ferro-magnetic material. Or by regions of the earth high in ferro-magnetic material.

            These variations can be extremely fine, varying over inches, never mind larger distances, and is part of how skates and similar fish navigate around the bottom of the ocean — they follow the varying lines of magnetic force, that are kind of like “magnetic contour lines”.

            1. You may be on to something for why this seems to be a problem for only some devices. It works on the principals of a Magnetometer and combines that reading with the gyroscope’s reading as a check and balance system. The phones gyroscope is also based on the principle of a magnetometer. However both should be protected in theory by compensation calculated in accordance with the GPS location for declination, etc. Declination variances are calculated by the device’s location on the earth.

              Deviation however is not calculated and therefore you’ll see a variance according to magnetic fields around the device. Get either of these wrong in an App’s algorithm and your results will vary accordingly!

  4. I started out with a chat support Session with a Apple rep. While I was bored at work to see what they’d say cuz I’ve read a 100 different things people claimed apple reps said. Like one suppose ip5 owner claimed a rep said it was gonna get fixed in a update and apple wasn’t taking anymore exchanges. And a quite a few others claiming whatever. Bottom line as you should with this, take everything said with a grain of salt said about iPhone, or Apple in general.
    So 1st rep chatted about 5-7 mins and then had Me wait while he checked…. Something about today. Maybe today’s records? Anyways he transferred me to his advisor. His supervisor, after he asked how my day was just said he would like to make a ticket and have a engineer call me, I guess had enough info from the notes the 1st rep took. So the engineer called in 15 mins and said they’d heard nothing about it and said I could either A.-wait and Let him find out what is said about it in the next few weeks (I’m guessing if more issues), whether software or hardware and he’d be in touch OR B- take in to the Apple store so they could determine then and there(which he recommended. Would be quicker etc… Obviously )
    I took the 2nd option. That’s all I wanted to know was if they were aware and/or ready to say they were aware. If not then I’ll take it in. Or if they knew and a firmware was the answer, then I’d rather just keep it and wait. I find it hard to believe they haven’t heard. Forbes plus quite a few of other tech sites reported and. Most did their own Comparisent. More then gizmodo (which I don’t even go to anyhow), practically every one I read did. Ilounge,Forbes.. I think cnet went off gizmodo. Cult of Mac also did their own comparisons with article.
    The Internet is full of speculation about this (and everything else) so I may as well add mine, but it seemed that the rep knew its hardware.
    I downloaded a pretty fun and simple game called airplane. I turned on motion controls and on the runway for take off I throttled it all the way up and laid phone on flat surface with volume controls facing ceiling, so it was level. My Cessna airplane veered off to the right with the quickness. Didn’t even come close to making off ground. So 1degree is quite a bit which I didn’t really suspect. I couldn’t tell a huge difference with a racing game, but it was there but your usually always moving the phone anyhow cuz straight always don’t last long. On airplane it’s one straight away to take off. But even after taking off it keeps going to the side. For me it was always towards the home screen button side. After airplane I thought screw it I’m gonna call and see what they say. No more going off other peoples word which I never did before. Most complaints about iPhone are bogus (if it didn’t happen to my phone then it was bogus)
    I told the engineer that I checked the level after noticing the problem with the games and I noticed it was 1 degree off He said ” Well you just answered the only question I had, was that if you tried the level and if you tried on a verified level area”. So I don’t think this is a update fix. And I would think he would of had more question. They always always asks to do a restore as new. But none of that.

      1. Ohhhh shit I should have just called you instead of apple. You tested iPads. Pishhhh you are thorough. Let me just get your number so I could call you next time and you could run out and test almost a year ipad for my iPhone issue. Brilliant!! You are missing out on some big money kid.

  5. Test 10 physical bubble levels from the hardware store.

    1. Put first one on flat horizontal surface.
    2. Note precise position of bubble.
    3. Turn 180 degrees.
    4. Note precise position of bubble.
    Repeat for each level.

    Record how many have the bubble in EXACTLY the same position for 2 and 4.

    Repeat for 20 million more bubble levels.

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