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iPhone 5 scratches are normal, says Apple

Andrew Williams


iPhone 5
iPhone 5

Responding to claims that the iPhone 5 is disappointingly scratch-prone, Apple has said that such damage is "normal".

Apple Senior Vice President of Marketing Phil Schiller responded to an email sent by a 9to5Mac reader, asking why his Black iPhone 5 was already accruing an array of scratches and scuffs. Schiller said that it's all down to the new aluminium construction of the phone, that "any aluminium product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color. This is normal."

Scuffing and scratching of the aluminium rear of the iPhone 5 has been widely reported by new phone owners, causing some to dub the affair "scuffgate", a reference to the "antennagate" debacle that surrounded the 2010 iPhone 4 launch. The effect is most pronounced in the black iPhone 5, as the silver of the underlying aluminium is clear against the darker slate-coloured rear. It's something to consider if you're about to lay down £500 for a new iPhone.

The iPhone 4S uses steel sides and a glass-covered rear. It isn't as prone to scratches, but did have a tendency to smash into a spider's web of broken glass if dropped. Cracked or chipped - take your pick.

iPhone 5

This is the second hiccup that has put a damper on the otherwise hugely successful iPhone 5 launch. Much fuss has also been made of the new Maps function in iOS 6, which replaces the Google Maps service of iOS 5 and earlier versions. The mapping info it uses is out-of-date, and often plain wrong, resulting in mis-named towns, missing roads and radically different transport lines. Apple has spoken out on this issue, saying that iOS 6 Maps is not finished yet.

The pair of problems has not held back sales, though. Apple has confirmed that the iPhone 5 racked-up two million pre-orders in its first 24 hours, and managed five million sales in its first three days. However, this is lower than some analyst predictions made pre-launch.

Supply of the iPhone 5 continues to be a problem. Pre-order allocations ran out quickly, and stock availability is still showing as "3-4 weeks" on the Apple online store. The iPhone 5 is expected to sell 26 million units by the end of the year, as predicted by Jeffries analyst Peter Misek.

Are you disappointed by how scratch-prone the iPhone 5 is? Drop us a line in the comments.

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September 26, 2012, 5:05 pm

More statements for the iSheep faithful. Why make a phone light and slim when you need a case to protect it (adding weight and size)?

When you look at this and the map debacle it's clear that Apple have taken a calculated risk that their users will look past these issues.

Sadly, it looks like they are right.


September 26, 2012, 5:07 pm

Wow, so it's officially a 'Feature'. Good arrows Phill.


September 26, 2012, 5:15 pm

I do wonder what people do to their phones to scratch and chip the casing so quickly. Am I the only one who doesn't carry my phone in the same pocket as my keys or put it through a belt sander before I go to bed each night?


September 27, 2012, 12:50 am

It seems many are scuffed straight out of the box. Could be a sandpaper box perhaps?


September 27, 2012, 12:53 am

It's like stone-washed and distressed jeans. We're just not 'with it' enough to get it.


September 27, 2012, 11:43 am

Sure, because the plastic back on the Galaxy S3 or whatever other phone you prefer is completely impervious to scratches and therefore doesn't need a case to protect it? Does your phone also exorcise the demons of capitalism and illuminate the path of technological righteousness with the searing light of a thousand suns from its OLED screen? Idiot.

Some iPhone zealots seem to have lost track of the fact that the iPhone 5 is a phone and not a technological holy grail hand carved from diamond and pure manna by the God Steve Jobs from beyond his mortal grave. It isn't perfect, it isn't indestructible, but it's a damn good phone. The problem is that by building it up to be some sort of wonder device, and by complaining about every flaw, Apple fanboys make it very easy for detractors to shoot them down.


September 27, 2012, 7:00 pm

Hey John McLean.

I was amused at you calling me an idiot when your own statements are contradictory to the point of...well...idiocy.

You chose to go on a personal attack rather than argue against my statements.

Re-read my original post. This time slowly.

Martin Daler

October 12, 2012, 11:51 pm

Apple are of course correct - it is entirely 'normal' that aluminium will scratch. What is not 'normal' is that with full knowledge of this shortcoming the material should neverthelss be selected for this duty. It would be like building a boat out of papier-maché and then, when it turns soggy and sinks, saying that is normal, for papier-maché.

And please, don't tell me that looking good is not part of the Apple design purpose.

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