Apple’s Schiller: iPhone 5 Scratching and Scuffing is “Normal”

Apple SVP Marketing Phil SchillerApple's SVP of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller

The easy scratching and scuffing of new iPhone 5s is “normal,” according to an email purportedly sent by Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller to an iPhone 5 customer, 9to5Mac reported early Tuesday. Mr. Schiller’s comments, if authentic, represent Apple’s first publicly-known statement on the issue that has frustrated early iPhone 5 owners.

As iPhone 5s began to reach customers’ hands early last Friday, many reports of easy scratching began to surface, particularly from customers of the black model. The black coating of the anodized aluminum back appears to be highly susceptible to scuffs and scratches, which expose the silver color of the aluminum underneath. The exposed silver easily catches light, and makes the scratches and scuffs even more visible.

The iPhone 5’s aluminum design is a departure from the glass cover of Apple’s previous two generations of iPhone. While the glass was far more susceptible to breakage, its surface was particularly resistant to scratches and scuffs during normal day-to-day use.

iPhone 5 ScratchesImage via Overclockers UK

As a trade-off between structural and cosmetic durability, Apple’s choice of anodized aluminum has become a double-edged sword for many iPhone 5 owners, but Mr. Schiller’s purported response indicates that Apple has no plans to address or correct the issue. From the email obtained by 9to5Mac:

Customer: I love my Black & Slate iPhone 5, but 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?

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

Apple’s choice of aluminum not only makes the iPhone 5 more structurally durable and less prone to cracking than the iPhone 4S or 4, as mentioned above, it also helped Apple reduce the weight and thickness of the device, two characteristics that have won much praise from customers and critics alike.

There may have been alternative materials explored by Apple that would have reduced the device’s susceptibility to scratching, but Mr. Schiller’s comments indicate that Apple has no plans to address the issue during this generation of iPhone. iPhone 5 customers who hope to maintain the cosmetic appearance of their device should therefore make a protective case their first purchase after receiving the phone.