Teardown reveals iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have two accelerometers for improved user experience

BY Joe Rossignol

Published 27 Sep 2014

Accelerometer iPhone 6

iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus could be the most sensor-laden smartphones that Apple has ever released, based on a new teardown that reveals two accelerometers found inside both devices. According to Chipworks, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus have a three-axis Bosch BMA280 accelerometer and what the company believes is a MPU-6700 six-axis accelerometer from InvenSense.

The dual accelerometers are cited as helping provide an improved user experience and minimized power consumption. The new InvenSense accelerometer has several different functions that enable it to operate in different modes, but it also has a higher sensitivity that requires more power consumption than the Bosch accelerometer. Chipworks shares the technical details in their blog post:

“The InvenSense device can operate as a six axis inertial sensor, or as either a three-axis gyroscope or a three-axis accelerometer. It is rated to consume 3.4 mA in the six-axis mode, 3.2 mA in the gyroscope mode and 450 µA in the accelerometer normal mode. By contrast, the Bosch device operates as a 3-axis accelerometer only and it consumes 130 µA of current in the accelerometer normal mode. Both devices offer two low power levels of operation for the accelerometer function. The InvenSense device actually consumes less current in its lowest power mode, with a 1 Hz update rate.

The main benefit of the InvenSense is full six-axis integration of the data by the on-chip digital motion processor (DMP). This will provide a direct benefit for gaming and other applications that need sophisticated inertial sensing capabilities. In addition the InvenSense provides significantly higher sensitivity than the Bosch device. The price however, is higher power consumption.”

Taking a closer look at the Bosch accelerometer, it is revealed that the component can operate at a lower power consumption due to a much faster cold start up time, at 3 milliseconds compared to 30 milliseconds. This accelerometer can be used when complete six-axis integration is unnecessary or for tasks in which higher sensitivity is not needed. For example, rotating the screen orientation for pedometer purposes.

Chipworks concludes by saying that the dual accelerometers are a testament to Apple’s “elegant engineering.”

[Chipworks via MacRumors]