Apple’s Phil Schiller Says Chips & Scratches On Black iPhone 5 Are ‘Normal’

Apple’s Phil Schiller Says Chips & Scratches On Black iPhone 5 Are ‘Normal’

This is normal, apparently.

While the vast majority of us couldn’t be happier with our new iPhone 5s, a number of users who decided to purchase the black & slate model have noticed that its anodized aluminum finish is prone to chipping and scratching. Unfortunately, it’s not an isolated issue affecting a certain batch of black devices, either — it appears to be affecting them all.

Could this be an issue Apple quickly needs to address? No. Apparently not. According to the company’s senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, those chips and scratches are “normal.”

Alex, a 9to5Mac reader who picked up a black & slate iPhone 5, has already begun to notice scuffs and scratches on his device — like a lot of users. So he emailed Phil Schiller to ask whether Apple had any plans to fix the problem. Schiller’s response is surprising:

Alex

Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color. That is normal.

Phil

9to5Mac reports that it has verified the email, and that it is indeed from Apple’s SVP. So there you have it: The black iPhone 5 is going to scratch and chip, but it’s normal. The only way to prevent it is to slap on a case and take care of your beloved new smartphone.

Apple’s Phil Schiller Says Chips & Scratches On Black iPhone 5 Are ‘Normal’

Ouch.

The other option, of course, is to take it back and pick up a white & silver iPhone 5. While this handset also has an aluminum rear panel, it isn’t anodized — like Apple’s aluminum unibody MacBooks — so it won’t chip, and scratches won’t be anywhere near as obvious.

Related
  • Eric_M_White

    No Phil, this should not be normal. This thing seems to scratch too easily. After a year, it is going to be all silver. Guess I will keep for 4S.

  • gnomehole

    No Phil, this should not be normal. This thing seems to scratch too easily. After a year, it is going to be all silver. Guess I will keep for 4S.

    Wait, you don’t even have an iPhone 5 and you are complaining? Here is a news flash… carry a phone in your pocket with keys and it will scratch. Drag it around a rough surface and it will scratch. If you can’t handle it with care, get the white version.

    There is always a plastic Android phone… but I hear they scratch too.

  • 4dimach

    Yea! In a year it will match my watch :) http://instagr.am/p/QALJA7BKLb/
    Don’t you think it adds character to the iPhone?

  • FriarNurgle

    Well, that’s going to start a shiatstorm of anti Apple posts from Android fanboys across the vast interwebs.

    Also why hasn’t anyone done a comparison test of durability of the colored coating on the new black iPhone 5 and the iPods. They seem to stand up well to abuse.

  • rlowe
    No Phil, this should not be normal. This thing seems to scratch too easily. After a year, it is going to be all silver. Guess I will keep for 4S.

    Wait, you don’t even have an iPhone 5 and you are complaining? Here is a news flash… carry a phone in your pocket with keys and it will scratch. Drag it around a rough surface and it will scratch. If you can’t handle it with care, get the white version.

    There is always a plastic Android phone… but I hear they scratch too.

    Well said.

  • bdkennedy

    I can’t understand why Apple never learns from it’s past mistakes. They went through this with the first gen iPod Nano, were sued and had to ship a cover for it. I mean, tell me after they tested this thing Phil sat down and said, “Oh, my iPhone is all scratched. Oh well.”

  • Steffen Jobbs

    “You’re unpacking it wrong.” What’s the big freaking deal. In a week it will be all scratched up anyway unless you get a case. And if you get a case you won’t even be able to see the scratches. Meanwhile, go get yourself a black magic marker or one of those auto paint touch-up kits and fill in those scratches. Damn? Is every sorry person who buys an iPhone wearing a plaid girlie skirt? A freaking scratch mark doesn’t stop the iPhone 5 from working, does it? Stop the bitching and moaning and just use the damn phone as how it was meant to be and the minor blemishes will become insignificant.

    It’s getting like some woman who gets into a car wreck which totally destroys her car after coming from the beauty parlor. Suddenly she looks at her newly done nails and starts crying, “Oh my god, I just chipped my nail polish.” Please people, get some damn perspective over this stuff. It’s a phone, not some 5,000 year-old artifact.

  • shade/ohio

    no the hell is not normal hope mind doesnt have any dents

  • SkolVikes88

    Let’s see…
    Paint chips and scratches because it’s a thin layer of relatively weak material over metal.
    Anodizing is about the same, but even thinner.
    Has anyone ever had anything made of aluminum that’s anodized? News flash: It will scratch/chip if it’s scraped, dropped, etc.
    There are different types of anodizing, and some are stronger than others, but for cryin’ out loud, it’s a phone. Get a case if you’re so worried.

  • Ed_Kel

    Isn’t this the exact reason why they never made an anodized aluminum Mac?

  • Damian Kennedy

    I think we should get to see his.

  • volodoscope

    Umm, as far as I know everything scratches. Why is it a surprise to people?

  • Brianna Wu

    “You’re unpacking it wrong.” What’s the big freaking deal. In a week it will be all scratched up anyway unless you get a case. And if you get a case you won’t even be able to see the scratches. Meanwhile, go get yourself a black magic marker or one of those auto paint touch-up kits and fill in those scratches. Damn? Is every sorry person who buys an iPhone wearing a plaid girlie skirt? A freaking scratch mark doesn’t stop the iPhone 5 from working, does it? Stop the bitching and moaning and just use the damn phone as how it was meant to be and the minor blemishes will become insignificant.

    It’s getting like some woman who gets into a car wreck which totally destroys her car after coming from the beauty parlor. Suddenly she looks at her newly done nails and starts crying, “Oh my god, I just chipped my nail polish.” Please people, get some damn perspective over this stuff. It’s a phone, not some 5,000 year-old artifact.

    While I agree with your point, I feel compelled to say – equating stupidity with examples of women comes off as extremely sexist.

  • Gadget

    Well that makes up my mind if I get one. It will be the white one.

  • mr_bee

    In all fairness, Phil is minimising the problem but then you and all the rest of the tech press are wildly over-stating it in the first place, so it’s sort of a tie. It’s by no means as widespread or as bad as you make out.

    Phil is correct to say that scratches after purchase are the users problem. Why would they be Apple’s problem? The only issue is the ones that were scratched or nicked “out of the box” and all reports on that so far indicate that it isn’t widespread at all.

  • mr_bee

    … Is every sorry person who buys an iPhone wearing a plaid girlie skirt? … It’s getting like some woman who gets into a car wreck which totally destroys her car after coming from the beauty parlor. ….

    You didn’t have to resort to the bigoted remarks to get your point across.

    Statistically, women are far better drivers than men.

  • nvettese
    No Phil, this should not be normal. This thing seems to scratch too easily. After a year, it is going to be all silver. Guess I will keep for 4S.

    Wait, you don’t even have an iPhone 5 and you are complaining? Here is a news flash… carry a phone in your pocket with keys and it will scratch. Drag it around a rough surface and it will scratch. If you can’t handle it with care, get the white version.

    There is always a plastic Android phone… but I hear they scratch too.

    Actually, I have a Droid X, it is 2 years old, and I never used a screen protector or a case, and I have almost zero, count them zero, scuffs on my phone or screen.

    And Rich is right, it is not acceptable. One day, when you grow up to be an adult, and you have to pay for your own devices, you will be more concerned.

  • bdkennedy

    I have a Motorola RAZR I’ve been using off and on for 7 years. It’s made of aluminum, plastic and glass. It’s been dropped, it’s been in my pocket and there’s not a single scratch on it. It looks brand new. How Phil can accept the iPhone scratching as normal just doesn’t sit right with me.

  • minimalist1969

    Good design (and in particular good industrial design) always anticipates a product’s intended use. I’m pretty sure Jony Ives knows this. You wouldn’t make a car out of uncoated steel and then make snarky comments like “well, duh… what did you think was going to happen” when it began to rust almost immediately and customers started getting angry.

    Apple designs can be extraordinary but this is a particularly bad example of style totally overriding usability. If you have to shrink wrap your phone in a plastic case the moment it come out of the box to avoid it getting dinged up in the first week doesn’t that say something about the appropriateness of the phone construction?

  • minimalist1969

    Good design (and in particular good industrial design) always anticipates a product’s intended use. I’m pretty sure Jony Ives knows this. You wouldn’t make a car out of uncoated steel and then make snarky comments like “well, duh… what did you think was going to happen” when it began to rust almost immediately and customers started getting angry.

    Apple designs can be extraordinary but this is a particularly bad example of style totally overriding usability. If you have to shrink wrap your phone in a plastic case the moment it come out of the box to avoid it getting dinged up in the first week doesn’t that say something about the appropriateness of the phone construction?

  • robert_walter

    Normal? Debatable. Desirable? Definitely not!!!

  • hanhothi

    “It is not a bug, it’s a feature”. Sounds familiar? What is happening to Apple these days? Well, they are now the biggest, maybe they think they can sit on their butts! Down they will go!

  • Xander_Crews

    The black finish chipping and wearing off on a brand new device is a bit hard to swallow. And the whole, “get a protective case” argument is a bit absurd, since one of the major high points of the new iPhone is the look of it. Getting a case will cover up the look and you’re left with a cool looking phone that you can’t even see. And now, the “cool” is flaking off the flippin’ phone??

    I do not own an iPhone, never have…but I have friends who own them. I have an HTC Rezound. I’ve had it for a few months now. Nothing is flaking off of my phone. I used to own a Droid2…had it for a couple years…loved it, and the finish never flaked off of it’s metal edges.

    From the maps fiasco, to the less than stellar improvements, to the lack of innovation, to the finish chipping off, to the scores of people complaining bout iOS6 & the new iPhone… geez guys. Remind me again why this has sold 5 million units already? I think Apple is pulling off one of the biggest scams in history here. This is what you call “being loyal to a fault”.

    What’s funny, is when these flaws are pointed out and iPhoners are asked about them, they are all like, “no big deal…”. Seriously? And people wonder why iPhone folks are refereed to as “sheep” or “fanboys”. The old statement that goes, “Apple could put their logo on a steaming pile of dog crap and folks would line up to buy it.”…isn’t that far off.

  • Xander_Crews
    No Phil, this should not be normal. This thing seems to scratch too easily. After a year, it is going to be all silver. Guess I will keep for 4S.

    Wait, you don’t even have an iPhone 5 and you are complaining? Here is a news flash… carry a phone in your pocket with keys and it will scratch. Drag it around a rough surface and it will scratch. If you can’t handle it with care, get the white version.

    There is always a plastic Android phone… but I hear they scratch too.

    After a few days of normal use, the finish should not be flaking off. Sorry.
    Obviously the clear finish that covers the black finish isn’t durable at all…which is shocking because Apple has always been known for high quality design & materials.

  • Xander_Crews

    Umm, as far as I know everything scratches. Why is it a surprise to people?

    So you are saying it’s normal for the finish to be chipping off after only a few days of use?? Uh huh. Right.

  • Xander_Crews
    No Phil, this should not be normal. This thing seems to scratch too easily. After a year, it is going to be all silver. Guess I will keep for 4S.

    Wait, you don’t even have an iPhone 5 and you are complaining? Here is a news flash… carry a phone in your pocket with keys and it will scratch. Drag it around a rough surface and it will scratch. If you can’t handle it with care, get the white version.

    There is always a plastic Android phone… but I hear they scratch too.

    Well said.

    No, not well said. All of my smart phones have been black… none have scratched like that…and certainly not after only a few days of use. And I rarely use cases.

  • Xander_Crews

    Let’s see…
    Paint chips and scratches because it’s a thin layer of relatively weak material over metal.
    Anodizing is about the same, but even thinner.
    Has anyone ever had anything made of aluminum that’s anodized? News flash: It will scratch/chip if it’s scraped, dropped, etc.
    There are different types of anodizing, and some are stronger than others, but for cryin’ out loud, it’s a phone. Get a case if you’re so worried.

    Your argument, like the others here, is dodging the issue. Why even buy an iPhone if you aren’t going to enjoy how it looks? The design & materials are why 90% of folks buy the damn things. You’re essentially turning your slick metal and glass phone into a plastic phone. Covering up the phone with a case is a piss poor solution.
    But I’m sure most of you will get the iPhone 5, and be in awe of how it looks…and then immediately slap a cover on it and cover it all up, never to look at the actual phone again.

    Brilliant. Ugh.

  • Xander_Crews

    “You’re unpacking it wrong.” What’s the big freaking deal. In a week it will be all scratched up anyway unless you get a case. And if you get a case you won’t even be able to see the scratches. Meanwhile, go get yourself a black magic marker or one of those auto paint touch-up kits and fill in those scratches. Damn? Is every sorry person who buys an iPhone wearing a plaid girlie skirt? A freaking scratch mark doesn’t stop the iPhone 5 from working, does it? Stop the bitching and moaning and just use the damn phone as how it was meant to be and the minor blemishes will become insignificant.

    It’s getting like some woman who gets into a car wreck which totally destroys her car after coming from the beauty parlor. Suddenly she looks at her newly done nails and starts crying, “Oh my god, I just chipped my nail polish.” Please people, get some damn perspective over this stuff. It’s a phone, not some 5,000 year-old artifact.

    No, it’s like buying a new car and after a few days, the paint starts to chip off. Are you going to be upset? Or are you going to say, “Meh, it doesn’t matter…the car still runs just fine. Who cares about the paint chipping off??”

    I’ll answer for you… you are going to be upset. You are going to take the car back, and if the dealer says, “That’s normal.”, you are going to say “Bullsh*t. Fix it.”

    We’re not talking about a phone that has been used for a year or two, IT’S ONLY BEEN A FEW DAYS!!

    I’m not paying for a phone that is going to chip up after a few turns in the pocket. ..and buying a case is just covering up the look of the phone, which is a major selling point of the phone.

  • James Barnette

    What the hell people it is anodized aluminum and it gets scratches. you act like apple has some kinda control over the laws of physics here. It is gonna get scratched if that is unacceptable to you then get a case. But stop blaming apple like they somehow have control over this or that it is a manufacturing flaw of some sort. All anodized surfaces scratch … period!

  • Arnoud van Houwelingen

    i rather have a scratched iphone 5 than a pristine looking Droid X .. even scratched it looks better!

    No Phil, this should not be normal. This thing seems to scratch too easily. After a year, it is going to be all silver. Guess I will keep for 4S.

    Wait, you don’t even have an iPhone 5 and you are complaining? Here is a news flash… carry a phone in your pocket with keys and it will scratch. Drag it around a rough surface and it will scratch. If you can’t handle it with care, get the white version.

    There is always a plastic Android phone… but I hear they scratch too.

    Actually, I have a Droid X, it is 2 years old, and I never used a screen protector or a case, and I have almost zero, count them zero, scuffs on my phone or screen.

    And Rich is right, it is not acceptable. One day, when you grow up to be an adult, and you have to pay for your own devices, you will be more concerned.

  • Zod Buster

    Hey .. crazy Phil.. normal use is taking out of a sealed box???

    welcome to the REAL APPLE ..

  • iJamie

    Not cool. Not cool at all. I’ve been as careful as I can, and it’s showing scratches and scuffs already.
    But can we really take our used iPhone 5 back to a store?

    Do we have 28 days returns or something?

  • Xander_Crews

    i rather have a scratched iphone 5 than a pristine looking Droid X .. even scratched it looks better!

    To be fair, you are comparing a 2 year old Droid X to a brand new iPhone 5? Shall I compare the new Galaxy S III to the original iPhone?

    Hmm….even then, I’d probably take the Droid X over the iPhone 5. It can simply just do more….which is sad, considering it’s a two year old phone.

    To me, it’s not about how a phone looks (sure it’s nice to have a nice looking phone, and iPhones are quite beautiful, but it’s by no means a deal breaker for me when choosing a phone), it’s all about what my smart phone can do, and Android simply “out does” the iPhone.

    You see, I use my smart phone to do things…lots of things. It’s not about people seeing what kind of phone I have…I don’t give two flying pigs if people care what kind of phone I have or if it’s an 1/8″ thinner, or 10 grams lighter, or any other cosmetic meaningless stuff, it’s about doing stuff…lots of stuff, and doing that stuff well. And Android excels at that far more than iOS does.

    You might not believe this, but I rather enjoy the iPhone. Nice design, clean OS, well built (aside from the finish flaking off). But if you ask me which is better and which phone I want, I’m going to tell you it’s the phone that can do more, because that is what I want in a smart phone. I don’t want to be in a situation where I find out my phone can’t do something that I really want it to do, and I find out another phone can do just that. And if I had an iPhone, I would be in that boat far too often.

    Some of you may want a smart phone that looks pretty and that’s the most important thing to you…and that’s fine, but don’t waive your phone in my face, calling it a better overall phone, because you have no idea what you are talking about…you sound silly because you just regurgitate what Apple tells you, which is pretty much always not true. I’ve had to put more than a few iPhone users in their place after they flaunted their phones. They always seem shocked at what my phone can do (not unlike the Samsung commercials), like they weren’t aware phones could do what mine just did. And I’m like, well…it’s your fault for not doing the research before you bought your phone.

  • Allan Cook

    I was happy when I discovered a tiny chip on mine. “Already broken,” I thought. A liberating insight.

  • Dhaval Brahmbhatt
    No Phil, this should not be normal. This thing seems to scratch too easily. After a year, it is going to be all silver. Guess I will keep for 4S.

    Wait, you don’t even have an iPhone 5 and you are complaining? Here is a news flash… carry a phone in your pocket with keys and it will scratch. Drag it around a rough surface and it will scratch. If you can’t handle it with care, get the white version.

    There is always a plastic Android phone… but I hear they scratch too.

    You sound like all the profit Apple generates from iPhone 5 goes straight to your pocket!!

    I wish this was true…at least that way you get something for defending Apple….

  • Agostino Longo

    A Hard Anodized finish CAN be extremely wear resistant with hardness in excess of 65 Rockwell C Scale. I seen and used it on many parts for industrial applications. Problem with the Iphone 5 is the finish is cheap (not hard anodized) the edges are sharp (stress raisers) and the aluminum substrate is thin/lacking of rigidity.

  • wchoreo

    “It’s by no means as widespread or as bad as you make out.”

    “Phil is correct to say that scratches after purchase are the users problem. Why would they be Apple’s problem?”

    Why what I see on the web, it looks like everyone including the people that buy white ones will have to deal with the premature nicks and scratches anyway. Did Apple not test this before? At any rate, it seems the customer gets an inferior phone compared to many others I won’t mention. I wonder if they’re going to be giving cases like they did last time. I loved mine. Oh, wait Apple has Tim “Moneybucks” Cook at the helm, no such luck kids! Enjoy that new super stressed out looking iPhlub 5. LOL

  • technochick

    Hey .. crazy Phil.. normal use is taking out of a sealed box???

    welcome to the REAL APPLE ..

    Where does Alex say that he just opened it and it was like that. no where.

  • technochick

    I’m not paying for a phone that is going to chip up after a few turns in the pocket. ..and buying a case is just covering up the look of the phone, which is a major selling point of the phone.

    okay, then don’t. Return it and get your money back. You have 14-30 days no questions asked, depending on what country you are in.

  • TylerHoj

    I was wondering what the iPhone 5 equivalent of antennagate was going to be. Here you have it folks. Scratching. I don’t believe for a second that ‘normal’ use of this device is causing these scratches and nicks. Stop throwing your phone in a pocket full of keys and maybe it wont get scratched. Common sense is a bitch that way.

  • kavi
    No Phil, this should not be normal. This thing seems to scratch too easily. After a year, it is going to be all silver. Guess I will keep for 4S.

    Wait, you don’t even have an iPhone 5 and you are complaining? Here is a news flash… carry a phone in your pocket with keys and it will scratch. Drag it around a rough surface and it will scratch. If you can’t handle it with care, get the white version.

    There is always a plastic Android phone… but I hear they scratch too.

    Ha ha ha, sorry cry boy apple did it, accept it. Dont blame others for ur own shit. May be we can change covers simpler and less cost than you. Now try changing your apple panty and look what it costs?

  • Arnoud van Houwelingen

    You don’t get it at all. For me the most important thing is how well the phone performs. That’s why i don’t care if there are some scratches on the damn thing. The Iphone 5 is simply the best phone there is . .don’t take my word for it but just read the reviews. Most of them agree with me. It’s a nice bonus that the Iphone 5 looks so beautiful. I love the industrial design :)

    i rather have a scratched iphone 5 than a pristine looking Droid X .. even scratched it looks better!

    Some of you may want a smart phone that looks pretty and that’s the most important thing to you…and that’s fine, but don’t waive your phone in my face, calling it a better overall phone, because you have no idea what you are talking about…you sound silly because you just regurgitate what Apple tells you, which is pretty much always not true. I’ve had to put more than a few iPhone users in their place after they flaunted their phones. They always seem shocked at what my phone can do (not unlike the Samsung commercials), like they weren’t aware phones could do what mine just did. And I’m like, well…it’s your fault for not doing the research before you bought your phone.

  • Bying

    This is insane. I have an old phone sitting in a desk drawer with a bunch of screwdrivers and other tools. Yeah, it’s scratched but those scratches are almost impossible to see unless you’re in direct sunlight. That iPhone 5 picture above looks worse than my four year old phone looks to be in better condition.

    Can you imagine how bad the iPhone 5 is going to look in a few months?!

  • ENDEAVOUR

    It is not a question of ” things will eventually get scratched ” the question is , why did Apple CHOOSE to use a manufacturing coating that is prone to premature scratching ?
    And to the idiot who thinks that scratches give your phone character, i suggest you have a labotomy. Ive got the white iphone and im not getting a scratched one, noooooooo way.

  • BlakeCole6

    like Florence responded I am shocked that someone able to earn $6725 in 1 month on the computer. did you read this web link (Click on menu Home more information) http://goo.gl/PY9I3

About the author

Killian BellKillian Bell is a freelance writer based in the UK. He has an interest in all things tech, but most enjoys covering Apple, anything mobile, and gaming. You can follow him on Twitter via @killianbell, or through his website.

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