Recently, Apple announced that users should be careful when using their iPhone in areas of intense vibration, such as cars and bicycles. What causes Apple products to break down from vibration, why should customers be more careful when using devices, and what does this teach about the difference between automotive grade parts and ordinary commercial parts?
In recent years, some Apple customers have recognized failures in their devices after riding a bicycle or driving vehicles. However, it was only recently that Apple issued a warning to users that vibrations from high powered motors can damage iPhone devices.
Apple’s announcement specifically mentions how vibration can damage sensitive mechanisms present on the iPhone’s camera. Because iPhone is a portable device, it can be difficult to take clear images as even the slightest movement can cause the image to blur. To solve this problem, the iPhone incorporates optical image stabilization and closed-loop autofocus to produce crisp and clear images even on the move.
The iPhone also uses a gyroscope with magnetic sensors to help stabilize the image in order to understand how the camera moves in its surroundings to provide the best result. However, these parts are all susceptible to damage when strongly vibrated, and it is this vulnerability that damages the iPhone when exposed to vibration from motors.
Many consumers would think that such a vulnerability is an example of poor manufacturing or poor design. Yet the truth is, most consumers don’t understand what automotive grade parts are. It is quite normal to mount a smartphone holder on the dashboard of a car and then use the smartphone as a GPS. However, consumers should recognize that the smartphone is not actually designed for use in automotive environments (including in the dashboard).
Generally speaking, most consumer devices on the market are designed for use in homes and other quiet environments. This means that they don’t expect large temperature swings, sudden vibrations, shocks, or corrosive compounds. Automotive grade parts, however, expect to see environmental conditions present in and around vehicles, including high temperatures, sudden shocks, severe vibrations, and potentially hazardous atmospheres.
As such, it’s no surprise that consumers report devices being used in harsh or faulty environments. However, is it the manufacturer’s responsibility to tell customers that devices are not guaranteed to work inside a car?
When designing electronics for commercial use, it is almost impossible to predict every use scenario. In the iPhone example, testing in cars would most likely have worked due to the large amounts of shock and vibration absorbers that modern vehicles have. Additionally, iPhone designers are unlikely to have tested their device on high-performance motorcycles, either due to the marginal nature of the environment or because the iPhone is not designed with high-performance motorcycles. car parts.
Although designers can solve these problems by using only automotive grade parts in their design, this is a very impractical design method for several reasons. For one thing, automotive grade parts can be much more expensive than their commercial variants (as they require more testing, checking, and different construction methods). Another reason is that not all parts are available in automotive grades (as is probably the case with the iPhone).
Engineers can protect their devices from customer complaints by clearly describing what environments their devices can operate in (temperature range, water levels, etc.). Users who violate these requirements will be deprived of any warranty. However, it’s arguably best for engineers to learn how other products have failed, to recognize how consumers are using their devices, and to design products with better testing methods to find problems before they become. a problem.