Tests reveal iPhone 5s motion sensors are miscalibrated

The motion sensors included in the iPhone 5s are significantly miscalibrated, and report erroneous motion related data to apps through the new M7 motion coprocessor. It’s not clear if this is a software issue, or a problem with the accelerometer, compass and gyroscope specifically.

To accurately demo the incorrect sensor data, Gizmodo compared the motion data obtained from the iPhone 5s’ accelerometer, compass and gyroscope to real world measurement tools.

They found quite noticeable differences not just between the physical measurement tool and the iPhone 5s, but also between the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5, both running the latest version of iOS.

According to Gizmodo’s tests, level apps show inaccuracies of 2-3 degrees, the gyroscope data was, again, off by 2-3 degrees, and the compass measurements were about 8-10 degrees apart. Their tests also found discrepancies in accelerometer measurements on the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5.

iphone 5s iphone 5 motion data

As we said earlier, it’s still not clear if this is a hardware or software issue, but the fact that the measurements are incorrect only on the iPhone 5s certainly hints at an hardware issue. If it is a software issue, though, we expect Apple to resolve it quickly via an update, as it did with the lock screen security flaw. We also wonder if the incorrect measurements have anything to do with Apple’s new M7 motion coprocessor which works independently (without the CPU) to provide motion data without draining the battery.

While inaccurate motion data reporting might not be important to many iPhone 5s users, if you’re an avid gamer who plays games that use accelerometer data, you’ll be affected, as illustrated in this gif with the iPhone horizontal but the car still going sideways:

car game iphone 5s

Have you seen any issues with the iPhone 5s motion sensors? Tell us in the comments below.

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  • Kevin Johansson

    Well good for me that my floor isn’t horizontal :)

  • Abel Goddard

    Big ball of whoop de doo. Who would use those features anyway? I’ve never even considered using the compass or the level.

    • David

      I do. Especially with apps like crowsflight when flying. And when needing a quick level for hanging a picture frame. There are also many more uses that i wont get into.

  • Pacomacman

    Nothing that can’t be fixed with a software update.

  • Warbeast

    Well some real good fanboys here! Even when the thing don’t work you blank it out ur minds by saying ur never use that part like it makes the £500 device ok to not work 100% hahah suckers

  • Warbeast

    You know how the iphone4 had that signal fault and apple said we are just holding it wrong!!

    Well they just told me this also isn’t a fault with the phone it is infact a fault with the earth and all complaints need to be sent to god or the aliens

  • Patrick Drews

    Yes. Tried using the level recently and seemed like off. Got a true bubble level and was off 2-3 degrees like everyone seems to be reporting. Games I haven’t seen a huge issue, but can tell it’s not right.

  • Javier Molina

    Does anyone know how accurate the iPhone 5 was to real world data?