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Bug Iphone Apple

iPhone's Liquid Sensors Can Be Triggered By Wintertime Use 484

Posted by timothy
from the contribute-better-translation dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Polish website Moje Jabluszko ran an experiment that proves the poor reliability of the liquid contact indicators (original, in Polish) installed by Apple in the iPhone. They performed three different tests to challenge the LCIs, which they recorded as a movie. They decided to mimic regular usage of the iPhone — meaning, you go outside where it could be cold or warm, then move inside in a building where temperature might be dramatically different, but still within covered conditions. So, they placed the iPhone in its box for one hour outside at -11 C, then moved it inside at room temperature for 24 hours. They repeated the experiment 3 times, and after the third cycle they could show that the LCI located in the audio jack plug started turning red! This is a clear proof that LCIs are not reliable and could turn red while the iPhone has been used under the defined environmental requirements defined by Apple. Here, only the condensing water could have been in contact with the sensor. In other words, even moving in and out during regular winter time will make you iPhone LCI turn red!" (In the tech specs for the iPhone, Apple rates the non-operating temperature range as -20 to 45 C.)
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iPhone's Liquid Sensors Can Be Triggered By Wintertime Use

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  • Scam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:37PM (#31207124)

    LCI are just a way for companies to worm out of actually delivering on warranties.

  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:43PM (#31207176)
    I don't think Orwell has anything to do with putting a sensor strip that turns color if you dunk the computer in water, clearly in violation of the warranty. So, while it may be kind of a dick move, its not some secret authoritarian plot of doom.
  • by sp332 (781207) on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:43PM (#31207178)
    It's basically self-defense for the laptop. What's Orwellian about it?
  • by Tsu-na-mi (88576) on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:45PM (#31207204) Homepage

    As anyone who wears glasses could probably tell you, if you go outside for a while, then come back inside (mimic the conditions of the 'experiment'), the glasses are highly likely to fog up with condensation. Is this not a liquid?

    Sounds to me like the sensors are working just fine.

  • Re:Condensation? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:50PM (#31207232)

    Uhm.. yes, and the OTHER part of the 'defined operating conditions' is the humidity range, which is typically for electronics listed as 5%-95% _NON_CONDENSING_

    So as much as it sucks, guess what, the sensor is accurately recording that the phone's been outside of operational specs.

  • Re:Scam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by commodoresloat (172735) * on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:53PM (#31207256)

    Yeah mod that up. The liquid sensors don't protect the devices in any way, other than to let you know you got the thing wet at some point. Many warranties are basically written to rule out the common things that would break a phone. It's especially annoying when you're paying a monthly fee for the warranty that adds up to the price of the phone or more in a year anyway, the least they could do is replace the thing when you break it even if you did drop it in your gin and tonic. If they make you agree that's not covered, fine, but then their sensors better be rock solid reliable. False positives are unacceptable.

  • Re:Scam (Score:5, Insightful)

    by biryokumaru (822262) * <biryokumaru@gmail.com> on Friday February 19, 2010 @10:55PM (#31207268)

    Solution:

    Don't

    Buy

    Warranties

  • by Sitnalta (1051230) on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:14PM (#31207370)

    So where's the story? Water is water. It doesn't matter if it's condensation or spilled coffee, the result is damage to the electronics that is no fault of Apple's. They can't protect their devices against every retard who doesn't have enough common sense to not expose their iPhones to environmental extremes.

    Also, the tech specs only say that the iPhone will WORK at -20 C, it makes no mention of suddenly exposing it to warm, moist air.

  • by plover (150551) * on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:23PM (#31207408) Homepage Journal

    Non-condensing. It's right here: http://www.apple.com/iphone/specs.html [apple.com]

    Environmental requirements

            * Operating temperature: 32 to 95 F (0 to 35 C)
            * Nonoperating temperature: -4 to 113 F (-20 to 45 C)
            * Relative humidity: 5% to 95% noncondensing
            * Maximum operating altitude: 10,000 feet (3000 m)

    You have to obey them all, all the time. The sensor is simply just another component that might fail if you exceed these parameters. And it sounds like pretty convincing proof that you were in condensation conditions if the sensor fails by turning red.

  • by sjames (1099) on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:25PM (#31207416) Homepage

    The environment the phone was in was noncondensing. The environment IN the phone was condensing but how is the consumer to control that?

    Consumer devices need to be built to withstand the normal environments they will be used in. Surprise, people sometimes come into a warm building from the cold outside.

    If Apple gave half a crap about their users, they'd spring for the penny it would cost to shoot the insides with a bit of waterproofing spray rather than warranty void excuses before welding the back on.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:25PM (#31207418)

    The question is whether the LCI's can be triggered by exposure to condensation, moisture, etc., which won't actually harm the device. Clearly those LCI's are more sensitive than the device they're attached to to water damage. If the manufacturer refuses to honor a warranty because of a LCI positive reading, but the damage to the device wasn't in fact caused by water, then you ought to be able to sue them for breach of contract.

    I had a cell phone battery fail (because of a defect), but the manufacturer wouldn't replace it because the LCI was tripped on the phone. The failure mode wasn't one that would have been caused by water damage.

  • by Entropius (188861) on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:27PM (#31207446)

    It's Apple, it just works, except for all the times when it doesn't.

    Ubuntu just works too, except for all the times when it doesn't. But those times, you can actually google the problem and fix it yourself. Apple, you're boned.

  • by jeko (179919) on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:31PM (#31207458)

    The purpose of the sensor is not to detect water. The purpose of the sensor is to give Apple and the insurance company a technical strawman to point to as to why you're not gonna get the warranty replacement you've morally and legally got coming.

    "We're not honoring the warranty because the machine says you've been bad," sounds sbetter than "We don't wanna honor your warranty 'cause that would cost us money to live up to our obligations."

    It's the same function polygraphs, e-meters and other "lie detectors" serve. They're technically nonsense, but they give the organization an excuse you can't refute since it's nonsense in the first place.

  • Re:Condensation? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by marcansoft (727665) <hector@@@marcansoft...com> on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:41PM (#31207520) Homepage

    It doesn't break. The article isn't about breaking, it's about the environmental change triggering the sensors. The ramifications are that Apple may/will refuse warranty service if they have been triggered, even if the failure was not a consequence of the humidity/condensation.

    So you take your phone out on a cold day, bring it back in, then three months later it dies of natural causes. Apple refuses to fix it because some condensation occurred three months prior.

    Although it's rare for a device to die just from some slight condensation, it's technically outside the specification. The way the warranty is worded, though, it would appear that they can only refuse to service devices for actual damage caused by the out-of-spec environment, not just because the device ever was in that environment. However, the burden of proving that the condensation didn't cause the issue is probably on you.

  • by dmomo (256005) on Friday February 19, 2010 @11:45PM (#31207548) Homepage

    >> While it's true that some portion of your customers are going to lie when they say there has been no water intrusion, including, at extra cost a device aimed at proving that your customer is lying on every device is unfair. Let alone close to the external extremedies of the device.

    Well said. Good contribution to the thread.

    >> Here's a prediction: First they will deny the problem, and try to cast doubt on the testing methodolgy, then they will acknowledge the problem but claim that it only occurs in a very limited set of circumstances and offer restitution but only for those who complain loudest.

    Decent editorial insight. The kind of thing that sparks great conversation.

    >> Then they'll make a minor change that doesn't actually fix the problem and claim it is fixed (oh and raise prices to cover this change). They'll stall at every step. This seems to be right out of the Apple customer service manual, and they're not the only ones (but they are some of the worst). No different to scratchable iPod minis, or cracked laptop cases.

    Still decent, but you're starting to get worked up!

    >> Fucking horseshit.

    Yep. You're working yourself up, son!

    >> But it's Apple, it just works, right? Come on fanbois, mod me into oblivion. I don't give a shit.
    And then you just slide down hill. If you were to be modded down, I don't think it'd have been because of your opinions / insights above. It's the fact that you seem to be asking for it right here. Maybe you're proud of your dissent and want to think the comments are controversial? Sorry, no. They grabbed my attention and got me thinking. But now I've forgotten everything you've said because of your silly little outburst.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20, 2010 @12:01AM (#31207640)

    you think the iphone is the only device with a liquid sensor? there's one in MOST electronic devices (mobile ones anyway).. the reason is there is because the warranty does not cover water damage (dropping in in the sink/toilet)..

    this study seems a little lacking. what was the ambient humidity? how much is required to trip the sensor and how does this compare with other devices? did they take a BBerry and subject it to the same conditions and it passed? what about the location of the one they tested - metal heats/cools faster, so there could be more condensation near the metal parts (headphone jack) how did the one at the other end (near the mic) fare? did all the sensors get triggered?

    does a tripped sensor automatically mean you'll get denied a replacement if something goes wonky?

  • Uninformed at best (Score:2, Insightful)

    by linuxhansl (764171) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @12:05AM (#31207662)
    This is nonsense. Warm air carries more moisture than cold air. When taking a cold device into a warm room, the air will enter the device, cool down and water will start to condensate inside the device. Water from condensation is just as bad as water from a spill.

    The liquid sensor is right to go off, as it should since many electronic gadgets/laptops were destroyed this way.

  • by justinlee37 (993373) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @12:11AM (#31207700)

    Granted, that's a problem, but it is not some Orwellian violation of your privacy. Comparing a less-than-perfect LCI to the dystopian police state portrayed in 1984 is some of the most hysterical chicken-little "the sky is falling" bullshit imaginable.

  • by AnotherShep (599837) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @12:13AM (#31207710)
    I don't really think that's a "privacy-free" culture you're describing. Also, I have no desire to exist in your "warranty-free" culture.
  • by poopdeville (841677) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @12:17AM (#31207720)

    According to some of the other posts on here, it seems like Apple has already covered this in the warranty agreement by specifying that the phone shouldn't be used in humid air where water can condensate.

    That's not an enforceable clause anywhere I know of. The iPhone is marketed as a portable phone, among other things. It's not portable if you can't take it into environments people commonly go into. Ergo, this all falls under the implied warranty of fitness for purpose.

    Good luck fighting for it when Apple has "evidence" against you.

  • by mysidia (191772) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @12:28AM (#31207786)

    It's not what it does that's at issue, it's what it will be used for.

    It's basically a litmus test. If it's red, your warranty service will be refused, even if what the sensor indicates is an error.

    You may have received the laptop with the sensor already triggered.

    Some condition (other than you dunking or getting the PC weight), such as the one described in the article might have triggered it.

    Anyways, if you have a problem, your warranty service gets refused as if you dunked it, even though you did not.

    The CSR will just assume you're lying, since the "sensor" proves you dunked it. That's what's sort of Orwellian [mechanism above human].

  • by farble1670 (803356) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @12:56AM (#31207910)

    i don't see why a manufacturer should give me a new laptop / phone / etc if i drop it in water. they cover defects not misuse. if they did cover things like that, the price goes up for everyone. i take care of my stuff and i'd rather not overpay up front so dummies can get a new laptop by dropping it in the tub.

  • by hidden (135234) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @01:09AM (#31207978)

    But that condensation occurs under normal use, so the device should be designed with it in mind.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @01:20AM (#31208028)

    They really have liquid sensors in them? That seems so... Orwellian. Does that not bother anyone else?

    Liquid sensors on a mobile device are Orwellian.. +2 Interesting. And Apple fans are the ones considered to be in the Reality Distortion Field?

  • by stdarg (456557) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @02:04AM (#31208200)

    The purpose of the sensors is to keep tabs to see whether you behaved well with the phone. It's a secret device (to most people) that can only be used against you to Apple's advantage. It demonstrates a lack of trust and good faith on the part of Apple.

    Nobody's saying Apple is about to start torturing people... but why is this *not at all* Orwellian, which you're implying?

  • by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... rg minus painter> on Saturday February 20, 2010 @02:18AM (#31208248) Homepage

    So... where exactly do you get any place where you NEVER have noncondensing humidity? I mean hell, I live in Colorado and it's dry as a bone here most of the time, and my glasses still fog up. Putting a clause in a warranty that essentially says "You're not covered if you actually use this device as advertised and intended" is immoral, and I believe illegal in many places.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20, 2010 @02:47AM (#31208344)

    Ok, I understand the somewhat conspiracy-theory concern over the fact that the sensors are too sensitive and give false positives. And frankly, I agree with you. But how is Apple actually using the sensor? Are there reported cases of Apple refusing warranty over false positives from the sensor? Or do they simply use it as an indicator when debugging and looking for possible problems? If they use it as the final answer, then that is wrong, but if they use it as only one piece of a larger puzzle, that seems completely reasonable.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 20, 2010 @02:51AM (#31208352)

    And where is this going to end? Is the device going to keep a permanent record of its GPS coordinates and accelerometer readings? Is Apple going to start recording all the sounds around the phone to make sure that it wasn't used in the commission of a crime?

    It doesn't end - Apple is the reflection of Steve Jobs, and Steve Jobs is a control freak. That's not necessarily a bad thing, so long as everyone that buys Apple products understands that to be the case, and accepts it: So long as you're content to let Apple tell you what's best for you with regards to those things that you buy from them, then you'll be fine, happy and content. And, for the majority of those that buy Apple products, that will be the case.

    Apple has done an admirable job of creating a controlled computing environment, after all. They control the hardware, the OS, and so the software that runs on top of it. There's MUCH to be said for this approach - overall stability is greatly improved, for the most part. The "end user experience" is mostly consistent, which lends itself to ease of use and so, Apple customers are, for the most part happy: All they want is for their computers to "just work", and for the most part, that's what they get.

    Apple has taken this approach, and applied it successfully to the iPod, iTunes, the iPhone - every time they branch out, they use the same methodology: Create an enticing product over which they have complete control, forever, make it fashionable, stylish, *the* thing to have. Apple is cool, after all, and so, too, are those that buy Apple products.

    They've carefully cultivated this image, and gained a loyal, in some cases, fanatical, following.

    And I say, with no cynicism at all - GOOD for them! There's obviously a market for this approach, and they should milk it for as much money as they can.

  • by polymath69 (94161) <dr DOT slashdot AT mailnull DOT com> on Saturday February 20, 2010 @04:09AM (#31208588) Homepage

    I successfully returned my water damaged phone to Bell by removing the water indicator sticker and replacing it with one I made myself using paper.

    I'm surprised the phone manufacturers haven't gotten a law passed against that.

    There is one already. It's known as fraud.

  • by Merls the Sneaky (1031058) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @05:41AM (#31208876)

    And it regularly hits 40 degrees Celsius where I live in sydney. What are we not allowed to use our phones on hot or cold days? Just one more reason for me to not buy an Iphone.

  • by umghhh (965931) on Saturday February 20, 2010 @07:16AM (#31209144)
    so what you say is as long as it is written in obscured place that the phone records all what you do it is fine that it does. The problem with this is that: they violate people's rights and are happy as the customers want to be cool as you do. They also violate common sense and quality controls as these sensors do not work properly es explained in the article. It does not surprise me all too much after all cool is not far away from fool.
  • by phoenix321 (734987) * on Saturday February 20, 2010 @07:22AM (#31209156)

    Talk about a gregarious black-or-white fallacy.

    "Not using the phone where humid air can condensate" is a thinly veiled euphemism for "not taking the phone outside your house, ever".

    This would not be a mobile phone.

    Case in point:
    Summer: Miami, sunshine, excellent weather, 80% humidity, 35 degree Celsius. Houses are air conditioned: 25 degrees, 50% humidity. Perfect weather for the region in summer. Leave the house with your phone in hand and humidity will condense on it instantly.

    Winter: Seattle, sunshine, excellent weather, 30% humidity, -10 degrees Celsius. Houses are heated, 20 degrees, 30% humidity. Perfect weather for the region in winter. Leave the house with the phone in your pocket, stay outside for 2 hours, come back into the house, voila, humidity will condense instantly.

    If you routinely wear glasses, you'd know that humidity is condensing practically everywhere, every time.

    A phone that cannot handle the environment of regular cheap non-waterproof wrist watches is not a mobile phone.

  • by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Saturday February 20, 2010 @03:34PM (#31212154) Homepage Journal

    The liquid sensor is right to go off, as it should since many electronic gadgets/laptops were destroyed this way.

    Either Apple needs to properly gasket the thing / seal the affected components, or be very up front that their products cannot be used in these very common weather conditions.

    To expect a phone to fail because it's used in the winter is beyond any reasonable expectations.

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