strange anomalous iphone behavior
February 24, 2018 1:02 PM   Subscribe

My iPhone just went on a some kind of berserk activity mode for no good reason. Should I be concerned?

My iphone just did some kind of extended manic activity spree not related to anything I was doing that has me a bit freaked out.

I'm in a public cafe. The iphone is not connected to the local wireless network, bluetooth is active, cell network is up. iPhone 5SE running latest IOS version. The phone is well cared for and has never shown any sign of failure or instability.

I was using it as a Pomodoro timer so running FocusKeeper app in the foreground, screen active.
All of a sudden the FocusKeeper timer dial starts spinning back and forth on its own, then the camera app comes to the foreground and starts snapping pictures. I can see my laptop keyboard on the iPhone screen and several camera flashes occur in succession.

A web browser comes up and several activities go on in such rapid succession I can't say with much certainty what it was doing though it seemed like Youtube was involved and possibly subscribing to new channels.

Apps seemed to be launching and operating on their own. It was going on so quickly and I was feeling a bit rattled so hard to say for sure what was happening.

If my phone had been hijacked by a script and started operating independently of my involvement, I would say it might look like this, though it's unlikely a script would act so blatantly.

I force shut down the iPhone, restarted and things are calm again. I've looked in my Safari history and Youtube history, no clues there. No new camera images either. If this happened to you, what might you do or think had transpired? Could it have just been a bug triggered by an app and things just went nuts in the OS for awhile?
posted by diode to Technology (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It could be an issue with the digitiser, which is the thing that's built into the display to make the touchscreen work. This is particularly likely if moisture's gotten on or under the screen -- perhaps something could have dripped on it at the cafe? -- but sometimes it just kinda happens. You probably want to do a backup of the phone as soon as you can, to be on the safe side.

If it happens again, you could try a factory reset. If it keeps happening, you may need a screen replacement to fix the issue.
posted by halation at 1:27 PM on February 24, 2018

Was it charging? I’ve had this happen with junky eBay chargers in the past.
posted by tatiana wishbone at 1:30 PM on February 24, 2018 [1 favorite]

I believe it’s called ‘ghost touching’? That search term should help you figure it out.
posted by Vaike at 2:17 PM on February 24, 2018

I’ve definitely had similar things happen with a janky charger on both an iPhone and iPad mini especially when the battery’s at 100% and it’s still plugged in. Try a Apple-certified charging cable - lots of cheap ones on Amazon - before you panic. If you’re using an iPhone 5, the highest possible version of the iOS may be old enough that this was still an issue.
posted by bendy at 4:32 PM on February 24, 2018

Well, it's possible I got a spot of moisture on it. I was pouring a tea pot in the near vicinity of it and actually thinking at the time what a disaster it would be if my hand slipped. My phone is pretty much encased in glass screen protector and good quality enclosure. Maybe there was a spot of condensation on the pot that dripped on the phone.It's been stable since then so perhaps that explains it.
posted by diode at 5:01 PM on February 24, 2018

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