Posts tagged with ‘camera

Design Defect: Some iPhone 3G[S] Cameras Don’t Take Pictures When Held In a Certain Way?

Wow. Just wow. As if the week couldn’t get worse for Apple. I’ve been following the recent flap over reception issues caused by the iPhone 4’s antenna design and have been largely dismissive of the controversy. Why? Because as a 3G[S] owner, the problem doesn’t affect me. Simple.

Unfortunately, I’ve recently discovered a defect in the design of my beloved iPhone 3G[S] and it may be even worse than the iPhone 4 reception issue because there’s a pretty good chance it affects every iPhone ever made.

The issue came to light after I attempted to take a picture of my MacBook Pro display while holding the phone in a normal and comfortable position:

See what happened? The image is completely obscured based solely on the way I was holding my iPhone. I attempted to adjust my grip and was able to improve upon my first shot:

Still not great, but definitely better. You can begin to see a bit of the display in the background. Next, I held my phone with my fingers around the edge, in an effort to give as wide a berth to the lens as possible:

This worked really well, but required some pretty uncomfortable hand gymnastics (that’s what she said) and worse yet, my grip was so tenuous that the risk of dropping my iPhone rose exponentially. I’m concerned about hand strain and the possibility of carpal tunnel first and foremost, but a broken iPhone wouldn’t be fun, either.

I wanted to be sure that the problem could be reproduced if I went back to my initial grip:

Wow. Sure enough, there’s a real problem, here. I’m not sure what Apple can do to fix the issue, but as I said before, this serious design defect probably affects every iPhone ever manufactured. You almost certainly have the problem, and you may not even know it.

Update 01: 

Flickr user aparmley appears to be suffering from the same defect. The result may be really cool, but that doesn’t excuse the defect.

Update 02:

A slight variation on the defect from Flickr user cbonney. Keep sending in the updates!

Update 03:

Even web celebrity Jeffrey Zeldman’s iPhone isn’t spared!

Update 04:

A pattern is emerging: Most of the issues seem to be isolated to the top left portion of the photos. VauVau’s ruined shot of food preparation in NYC:

Update 05:

I hope nothing important was happening in the upper-left-hand corner of this shot. Cool car, though.

Update 06:

I’ve (hint hint) talked with a senior designer inside Apple who claims the issue could be fixed rather easily by moving the camera lens to the center of the iPhone. When asked why they haven’t done this, the designer mocked my understanding of industrial design. According to my source, Apple’s designers don’t respect Apple’s engineers enough to make the change. Believe it or not, this glaring defect is rooted in spite: Your phone sucks because Apple’s designers don’t respect Apple’s engineers.

As it turns out, this battle has been going on for ages, and it hasn’t been won by an engineer since the Jobs/Crow “wire-wrapping” debate of ‘81. It’s no surprise then that Jobs is back at Apple, and Crow is no longer employed. Was Crow fired for being right about something at Steve Jobs’s expense? We may never know for sure but probably.

Until Apple’s engineers band together and demand a say in the design of the iPhone, every Apple product ever produced will continue to be shoddy. For example, as my source pointed out, they’ll be “made of aluminium (hint hint) instead of carbon fiber, as some engineers have suggested.”

Update 07:

Several people are writing to point out that this issue has been demonstrated on just about every camera, ever. Take a look at your DSLR. See how big the lens is? See where it’s positioned? It’s pretty clear that most companies have at least attempted to address the issue. Why hasn’t Apple? More importantly, if the issue was so prevalent prior to the iPhone, why hasn’t anyone ever pointed out the defect?

Update 08:

I’ve spoken with an engineer about the issue, and as it turns out the iPhone is actually taking pictures, it’s just taking bad pictures. So, there’s some good news.

Update 09:

This post is now making the rounds on Twitter, and the following tweet caught my eye:

People must have huge old gorilla sized sausage fingers, because I have yet to have a problem with reception or this camera thaang.

I can’t speak to the size of anyone else’s hands, but I was once told I have beautiful hands. Do gorillas have beautiful hands? Answer that question as though you were NOT an Apple fanboy.

Update 10:

More from Twitter:

That’s his finger over the camera…

That’s pretty much a perfect summary of the problem Apple has designed into its entire iPhone line.

Update 11:

The fanboys are now out in full force. I’ll have to ask Jesus Diaz how he handles the death threats when he gets them:

Hardly a defect. Revised headline: Nine iPhone Users Whining that They Cover the Lens with their Finger, Despite Live Preview.

Sorry for pointing this out, people. Not everyone in the world has angelic and/or petite girl hands, and what about the blind? Live preview doesn’t do them any good, does it? Perhaps Apple should be working voice over into their camera app if they don’t want to face a lawsuit? “Your finger is over the lens.” Oh, okay, hrm. “Okay, now it’s not. Shoot.”

Stay tuned…