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Apple on iPhone 5 purple flare: You're aiming it wrong

Doug Gross, CNN
A comparison by Mashable of smartphone and camera photos shows a purple glare on pics taken with the iPhone 5.
A comparison by Mashable of smartphone and camera photos shows a purple glare on pics taken with the iPhone 5.
  • Apple acknowledges purple flare problem on iPhone 5
  • Company calls problem common with phones, advises users to shield it from light
  • Still, Consumer Reports says new iPhone is a winner
  • But Samsung Galaxy S III, Droid RAZR MAXX still score higher than new iPhone

(CNN) -- Apple has responded to complaints that some photos taken with the iPhone 5 show a purple flare, saying it happens to many smartphones when they're aimed near a light source like the sun.

"Most small cameras, including those in every generation of iPhone, may exhibit some form of flare at the edge of the frame when capturing an image with out-of-scene light sources," the company wrote in the support section of its website. "This can happen when a light source is positioned at an angle (usually just outside the field of view) so that it causes a reflection off the surfaces inside the camera module and onto the camera sensor."

Apple suggested keeping bright light from shining into photos taken with the phone.

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"Moving the camera slightly to change the position at which the bright light is entering the lens, or shielding the lens with your hand, should minimize or eliminate the effect," the post said.

Not surprisingly, some users weren't satisfied with the response.

"You gotta be kidding me apple. You must be. Now I have to protect the camera with my hand when I want to take a picture?" one user wrote in a thread on Apple's user forums. "When a new iPhone comes out, I always buy it. If there is anyone from Apple reading this, I have to tell you that I am pretty disappointed with the product, for the first time. That's very bad."

Wrote another: "This purpling has nothing to do with pointing the iPhone 5 at direct sunlight. You can see this purple is occurring in more than just the bright light scenarios."

Some have speculated that the problem is caused by a sapphire cover that Apple added to the phone's camera.

"The new iSight camera in iPhone 5 features a sapphire crystal lens cover that is thinner and more durable than standard glass with the ability to provide crystal clear images," Apple wrote in promotional material for the phone.

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Some users also suggested in the forums that a third-party filter on the lens might help.

Released Septermber 21, the iPhone 5 has been Apple's biggest product launch to date, with more than 5 million sold over its first weekend on the market.

But, as often is the case with new tech products, there have been a handful of persistent complaints about the iPhone 5. Among them, some users have said the phone's new aluminum casing scratches and dents easily. And Apple's new map app, which replaced Google Maps for the first time, has been so glitchy that CEO Tim Cook issued an apology.

But, overall, reviews have been positive. And on Friday, respected product testers Consumer Reports gave the phone a thumbs-up, calling it the best iPhone yet after running a battery of tests.

"A larger, 4-inch display; a thinner and lighter profile; 4G LTE access; and a host of innovative features all helped the iPhone 5 move up in the ranks, surpassing not only the previous iPhone 4S but also a number of other new Android-based smart phones," CR wrote on its website.

In its review, Consumer Reports actually gave high praise to the phone's 8-megapixel camera.

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"In the full battery of tests we give to smartphone cameras, the iPhone 5's camera proved capable of capturing beautifully sharp and vibrant photos," the report read.

CR also gave high marks to the phone's new turn-by-turn GPS navigation (a feature Android phones already had) and its larger 4-inch screen. Of the map app, Consumer Reports found it "competent enough, even if it falls short of what's available for free on many other phones," and said it expects Apple to improve it.

The phone did not, however, top Consumer Reports' smartphone rankings.

The Samsung Galaxy S III retained the top spot, and the Motorola Droid RAZR MAXX also got a higher overall score from the group than the iPhone 5.

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