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.