With all the hubbub about the iPhone 5s’s wonky accelerometer, which has thrown off the iPhone’s accuracy by a couple of degrees, you’d think that iPhones from the first-generation to the iPhone 5 had perfectly accurate compasses, wouldn’t you? But such is not the case.
Over at Techhive, they tested six different iPhones, and it turned out not a single one of them could tell where truth north is. Sometimes, in fact, they were up to 20 degrees off.
On Thursday we ran a series of tests, and found the Compass app in both iOS 6 and iOS 7 reported screwy results across a wide range of iPhones—from the iPhone 4 to the 5s and 5c. We we re-calibrated each phone multiple times, we and often found the results changed wildely from one test to the next… The inconsistencies occurred in multiple locations around our office, and continued when we took our testing outside.
This is a great reason not to rely on your iPhone when traveling in the wilderness, but to be fair, doesn’t have much to do with the accuracy issues of the iPhone 5s and 5c. The new accelerometer in these devices have a bias that hasn’t been calibrated for, leading to issues using the accelerometer in-apps… for example, in driving games.