Scratch marks on the iPhone 5

Scratch marks on the iPhone 5

The growing “scuffgate” controversy surrounding the susceptibility of the new iPhone to scratches and chips has received further fuel after Apple’s Phil Schiller stated in an email response to an iPhone 5 owner that scratching or chipping of the product with use was “normal”.

Since the retail launch of the iPhone 5, concerns and complaints about the iPhone 5’s tendency to scratch and chip more easily than previous models have poured in, with one thread on the subject of scuffgate on MacRumors stretching in excess of 140 pages. A poll on the forum has revealed that a large number of people have experienced the issue, with over 36% reporting that their black iPhone 5 was scuffed before they even got it out of the box.

An iPhone 5 owner named Alex emailed Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior VP of Worldwide Marketing about the issue, asking:

 “I’ve been seeing some scuffs, scratches and marks throughout the band around the phone along with many others. What should we all do? Any plans to fix this?”.

In similar fashion to Steve Jobs famously terse email replies, Schiller states plainly that “any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color. That is normal.”

Scuffgate - Phil Schiller email about iPhone 5 prone to scratches

While the aluminum unibody of the iPhone 5 holds up to drop-testing much better than the glass backplate of the iPhone 4/4S, durability testing has shown that the iPhone 5 scratches much more easily than its predecessors. The majority of “scuffgate” complaints have been directed at the black iPhone 5, and it’s not clear whether the rear anodized backplate of the black iPhone 5 is physically more susceptible to wear and tear than the white model or if scratches are just more noticeable due to higher contrast.

The chamfered edges of the iPhone 5 are amongst the most noticeable of design changes in the new iPhone, but they are reportedly the source of a lot of scratches and scuffmarks that wear away their anodized coating and reveal the underlying metal. A YouTube video posted by iFixit and demonstrates how easily the iPhone 5 can be permanently scratched with everyday items, like car keys or a steel ring.

While the increased susceptibility to scratches has been a source of frustration for many new iPhone 5 owners – the solution is still simple and cheap: a case.

Do you have an iPhone 5? Have you already got scratches? Share your experience in the comments below.

22 COMMENTS
  1. Got my new black iP5 last Saturday. It was perfect, but quickly realized being lighter and thinner than my 4, which I always kept in my pants pocket, I’d need a case. Monday, I got the new OtterBox Defender 5, which is slimmer than the original Defender series. Makes the iP5 much easier to hold onto and use, and, yet is slim enough to fit in pockets. Highly recommend it.

  2. Pre-orderd iPhone 5 from AT&T, delivered 9/21 with scuff from a small screw driver between bottom glass and aluminum on back. Made an appointment at the Genius Bar 9/27 and the unit was replaced with a perfectly new one. Hurry and trade in before a hard-set policy is in force – straight from the Genius’ mouth.

  3. I have a Black Iphone 5 and am a builder. After 5 days i have about 12 scuffs on the bezel in different places. I would hate to think what this phone would look like in 5 weeks. I guess there would be no black coating at all. I recently brought a Jetbeam RRT-3 torch. That has been anodized to a military grade. Theres NO WAY that baby is going to scuff. It’s build tough. Im getting a refund and am so happy I didn’t sell my Iphone 4s.

  4. “All you need is a good case and protectors.”

    What is the point of having a beautiful phone if you are going to hide it with cases? The reason every other iPhone was made of glass is that it takes a bit more to scratch them, and they’re much less noticeable when they happen.

    Went to pick up my iPhone 5 today and it came scuffed out of the box. The packing materials scratched it? What the hell happened to the iPhones that are coming already messed up? I’ll do that on my own easily enough.

  5. They also don’t have any cases at the Apple Store (and really not much ready to ship elsewhere). The Apple employee did recommend I check out the stand outside of the NYC Apple Store. Some dude has a whole mess of cases for $10. Lucky city!

  6. I have a case and I am very careful with my phone. But somehow… Iv taken the case of to change the sim and thers a silver scuff already!

  7. 4 days of in and out of my front pocket, and the edge of my black iPhone 5 already shows signs of wear and tear. Love my phone. Super fast and just feels right in my hands, even without a case. Just not sure about spending 4 large on a phone that scuffs after 4 days. I guess we shall wait and see…

  8. Out of the box….scuff mark near the volume buttons. This is so disappointing. I have had iPhone 3G, 4s, and even waited for 12 hours for the original 2g the day the were released. What can we do????

  9. Update 🙂 I called 1800myapple and spoke with a very nice young man who said it was ridiculous. After a slight wait to be transferred, a very nice young woman said they have received a few (uh huh) calls and basically feel my pain. They are sending me out a replacement. Go call 🙂 before it’s too late!

  10. So what was the point of an iPhone becoming lighter when so many of them gets covered with a case? Very little difference from the iPhone 4/4S

  11. I am on my third…i got one which was scuffed out of the box…. a
    second, which I checked in front of the staff… which again was
    damaged. I asked for another black one and he said you can have a white
    one or your money back. He admitted that the black model is highly
    likely to be scratched. The white one is perfect…. but for how long???

  12. Big difference from the 4/4S which you can easily research. LTE and wickedly faster, better screen were the selling points for me. I like to keep all my stuff looking brand new. The 4 with a case felt like a brick compared to the 5 with a case. Gotta protect all that extra power and screen!

  13. When my iPhone 4 had a bubble/speck in the glass, I returned it and got a new one. Claimed it a factory defect within 30 days and got a new one. Hassle free. Put an invisishield on it and it has been bullet proof since. Dropped it hard on garage cement, metal rails of car seat (on car floor) and even quickly in the tub (water included). Replaced shield only once in 2 years (with lifetime warranty), more beautiful than any case.. Five owners should do same (defect return a must). Apple should take care of it. Apple consumers aren’t stupid. There’s just a natural IQ curve in all phone consumers.

  14. I have no problem with this statement by Apple. Regulators should mandate that it be stamped on the box of every iPhone 5 in bright red text.

    “NOTE: This product will chip or scratch with use.”

    Since this is ordinary and expected, they should be happy to accommodate this, right?

  15. I’m here in Japan… I recently baought an iPhone 5 white at softbank… When i opened it, it has many scuffs and scratches on the bezels… Icalled apple and they did replaced it, but still has the same problem…now, apple had done 4 replacementson my iphone 5 … But there’s still no “perfect” iphone… I’m very disapponted about this controversy…

  16. Please don’t think of me as a apple hater or anti “fanboy”.. You are all free to buy what you want and why you want. However, I have had many anodised aluminum phones over the years and none have scratched in such a short space of time. My old Nokia N8 from 2 years ago looks as new and is currently ratling around in my sister in law’s handbag without being scratched. It is unfortunate that Apple can just dismiss a problem that will not go away without them having to spend money on an expensive recall and re manufacture. Mr Schiler is really pushing the boundries of cheek although I would suggest that someone replied for him. A lot of you affected by the so called “scuffgate” suggest that you will just have to “wait and see”. What are you waiting for? Apple have chosen their bottom line over your customer satisfaction. I can’t believe that people will spend so much money on a device and then accept that returning said device 4 times is acceptable. Be a real consumer and buy something else there are plenty of phones in the market place that do what the Iphone does and better they just don’t have a scratched fruit on the back.

  17. I have had a case on my iphone 5 for around 4 weeks, in a case for 3. A case does not work! I just took the case off and the bezel is absolutely ruined!

  18. When I first saw that the iPhone 5c would be replacing the iPhone 5, I thought to myself that this is the reason why…but then the 5s pics came out and it was aluminum as well…so not sure about that!

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