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Apple’s Schiller: iPhone 5 scratches “normal”

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By Phil Dzikiy

News Editor, iLounge
Published: Tuesday, September 25, 2012
News Categories: Apple, iPhone

Scratches on the iPhone 5’s aluminum body are “normal,” according to an email from Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. The email from Schiller, published at 9to5Mac, is in response to a reader’s concerns about scuffs and scratches on a black iPhone 5. “Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color,” Schiller responded. “That is normal.” Numerous reports — and our own tests — have noted the relative ease at which the iPhone’s new aluminum body can be scratched or dented.

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Comments

1

Wait, you mean to say that Apple shipped a product that is beautiful out of the box but if you don’t immediately swaddle it in a protective case and then take further care to prevent dust and grit getting in between the case and chassis that it winds up quickly looking like it’s been bouncing around in the back of a truck bed transporting gravel in the Mojave?

Never saw that coming wink

On a more serious note, this form over function issue has plagued the i-Device family since the first iPod back in 2001. Consider that we’re eleven years into shipping devices with the same chrome backs that we knew were scratchtastic in 2001. Or how about the “butter” soft clear plastic for the first gen nano and then again with the fifth gen iPods? Or the iPhone 4X design that sandwiched the very sharp looking stainless frame with *glass*, a design choice that made seeing people using a badly cracked but otherwise functional iPhone a routine occurrence?

When Apple ships a pocket friendly device that we can drop, stick in our pockets with keys and change, and just *use* while maintaining a near new like appearance for months, that will be news. This? S.O.P.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on September 25, 2012 at 8:22 AM (PDT)

2

In defense of…well…all portable electronics manufacturers, let me just say that S.O.P. is also the status quo. Plastic cracks. Glass shatters. etal scratches. And just for good measure, wood chips. Apple has now used brushed aluminum, Gorilla Glass and composite plastics on their iPhones. And all have had reports of breaking/scratching/cracking. But so have Blackberries, Droids, Nokias and Galaxies.

I agree that we are veering to far into asthetics and away from durability. But the “tough” devices of the world tend to only do well in the blue collar and military world. White Collar America covets beauty. Heck, White Collar *insert industralized country here* follows that same path. Look at Japan, UK, Australia and, since they make it all, China. Apple has designed a device that is both elegant and useful. It appeals to a wide variety of user levels (the teenaged techie to the octogenarian technophobe). So what if I need to wrap it in a shiny colorful case. Many would do the same regardless of the durability anyway. We all want to display our individuality. Even if we all line up to buy the exact same smartphone every year or two… wink

Posted by Mitch on September 25, 2012 at 8:57 AM (PDT)

3

Just use a nice case. I use a case on all my Apple products to carry around. They all look like new.

Posted by Bert on September 25, 2012 at 9:06 AM (PDT)

4

All materials have tradeoffs, yet, with each iPhone, users have derided the flaw of the particular material used, wanting a switch to another. The same users are then surprised by the flaws of the new material.

As for form over function, I think the opposite is true. Form is the physical body, including the beauty or lack thereof after scratching. For a mobile device, function includes stiffness, ruggedness and lightness. By using aluminum, Apple is emphasizing the latter over the pure “form” aesthetics, making the very choice that the first commenter sarcastically teases them as not having made.

Posted by NameIsDavid on September 25, 2012 at 10:14 AM (PDT)

5

I don’t get the drama with this.  A beautiful car’s paint will scratch or chip or fade unless it’s babied.
Anodized aluminum - there ARE different types and some offer more resilience than others - will scratch, chip and fade too. There’s no failure here, except that people don’t understand basic concepts.
I stopped using a case on my iPhone 4 after a year.  It’s now two+ and looks just fine.  Perfect?  No, but I like to put it in the change pocket of my jeans and my leather jackets.  Sans a case, it’s awesome.  But yeah, don’t drop it too far from the ground!
Nothing to note here.

Posted by sb on September 25, 2012 at 2:59 PM (PDT)

6

I think we have two issues going on with the iPhone5.

1. In the desire to be thin, monolithically beautiful and light, trade off’s were advanced by at least Mr Cook, Mr Ive and perhaps Mr Schiller. My feeling is that Mr Mansfeild was opposed.Perhaps that is why Mr Mansfield wanted to “retire”. The news was there were two iterations under consideration . Just like last year. We have seen beauty trump function in the past with the iPhone4 and the silver band causing some antenna issues . They knew it before release but Mr Jobs and Mr Ive were in lust over the look according to what I have read in more than one admission interview. It was in fact beautiful for sure but required the company to use Me Job’s Reality Distortion
Field generator to full output and the customer had to suck it up for a year.

So here we are with a technically advanced product with the best screen on ANY phone . A hand created A15 processor that makes the iPhone5 the fastest phone in the world…that you and I can buy! And what is without doubt the best feeling, best looking product I have ever seen. But that product ihas a soft and poorly anodized case, unibody be damned, that is going to scratch and dent in weeks in normal use. We will have to put big fat ulgly caeses over it to protect it instead of using materials/ processes , that would have have added weight and a little thickness. You should be able to hold this phone out in all it’s glory just as it is. I would have thought that greater effort would have been pressed to use the exclusive Liquid Metal licence Apple has for ANY electronic product made in the world. I own and have used the first iPhone since 2007 and it is built like a tank and still looks great! I would take the internals in that case any day ofmthe week. Black is sexy, but silver is functional.

2. I ordered a black iPhone5 at 3 AM in the morning on the first opening of the orders. I took delivery last Friday afternoon. I took it out of the box and was in lust and so sastified that I had waited out the 4 and 4S. But then, in the light I saw silver nicks at the band joints where the plastic is inserted . I also noticed a good nick on the bevel on the front. I went to the Apple store here in my city and was quickly taken tom the side and told a manager would be right to me for replacement. He came, I showed him, he agreed and took the phone to the back. 45 minutes later he returned with my phone and another in his hands and said ; “As it turns out, there are some tolerances in the manfacuring process that are evident because I just took out 5 phones and this is the best of the five and it is worse than yours, you can choose what you want but they are all the same .” Long story short, I have his card and he will replace it if they get phones that are not damaged in production.

I have read and seen the media reports, with pictures, of the exact same issues. So even in production , the case is damaged just putting it together.
I got a 32GB phone that susdised or not costs $750.00. I paid $300.00 and have a two year contract formamproduct that wasndescribed to be the Rolex of phones. If I bought a $750.00 watch it WOULD NOT HAVE cosmetic blemishes when I took delivery.

So much hard work was done by so many folks at Apple that to wrap all that passion , long nights and weekends that to drop the ball in the last 10 yards is a failure of leadership and a very disrespectfull slap in the face of us as customers. I know I could and would never do that to one of my customers.

Posted by RickU on September 25, 2012 at 7:23 PM (PDT)

7

I owned an iPhone 3GS (now a glorified touch) and I now own an iPhone 4S.  I’ve dropped each one several times.  When I take them out of their cases they look brand new, fresh out of the box.  Considering it would cost several hundred dollars to replace my 4S out of contract, putting a case on it occurred the instant it came out of the box.  Actually, first it got a screen protector, the Otterbox Defender screen protector was removed, and then it would put in a case.  If you don’t put your phone, any phone, in a case then you get what you get.  There isn’t a single phone on the market that won’t be damaged if it were to fall at just the right angle, and since we carry our phones with us everywhere chances are the phone is going to hit the ground once or twice or many times in its life.  The phone may be a beautiful work of art, but its main purpose is function.

Posted by Matt on September 26, 2012 at 6:39 AM (PDT)

8

Really anyone who expects any portable electronic to remain unscratched after days not in a case is just crazy. I have a personal iPhone 4 and a Droid 2 for work.  My iPhone looks pretty good because I have it in a case.  The scratches on it are the rare times I take it out of the case, because I didn’t want to carry it around with a case.  The Droid, I almost never have in a case.  It’s all scratched up as well.  But that’s my choice to do so.  I don’t understand why people think Apple or any manufacturer, needs to build an indestructible piece of equipment.

Posted by Big Money Tony on September 26, 2012 at 6:48 AM (PDT)

9

Seems like we revisit this topic with every iDevice.
RickU makes a valid point regarding expecting a $600+ item to actually be in pristine condition when it comes out of the box. For him to be fobbed off by an Apple Store manager, as he has done, seems to indicate Apple is just struggling to get these phones onto the shelves - the QC at the factory is obviously slipping badly or the design is so prone to damage during assembly, Apple has just decided to push them out regardless. I expect if Jobs was still around we’d get a denial that there are any scratches or nicks….

Poor show Apple…

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on September 26, 2012 at 10:29 AM (PDT)

10

I’m confused - steel is a softer metal than aluminum, yet an aluminum iPhone bezel is more damage-prone than a steel one.

Posted by Mollari 2261 on September 26, 2012 at 11:18 AM (PDT)

11

@10: That is a widely repeated bit of nonsense based on the machinable elasticity that some fool on the internet ran with one day like a toddler with a bouncy ball. Steel is about the stiffest thing you can make a frame out of short of tungsten.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on September 26, 2012 at 11:48 AM (PDT)

12

Ridiculous.  Apple supposed to make these things bullet proof?  Things get scratched, get over it.  Electronics in general are not the most durable goods.

Posted by David on September 26, 2012 at 12:19 PM (PDT)

13

Totally agree number 12.  People need to shut up and get over themselves!  The nerve, expecting a product to come out of the box in perfect shape?  And how dare people spending hundreds of dollars on a device expect it to hold up over time?  That would like expecting a new car not to come with door dings, or the paint job not fading as soon as you drive off the lot.  People need to get out of their fantasy zone and get real, why expect expensive toys to come in pristine condition?

Posted by Jeff on September 27, 2012 at 5:11 AM (PDT)

14

Reading comprehension is a serious problem in this country.  13, 12 was talking about how a phone holds up when in use.  He said nothing about quality control or the condition of the phone out of the box.  Your sarcasm was completely wasted.

Posted by Matt on September 27, 2012 at 6:48 AM (PDT)

15

@14: I’d take your own advice since 12 was spouting completely off topic and deserved any such sarcasm.

Apple has never made products that are resistant to much of anything, this isn’t news. However, their obsession with making things lighter and thinner every model change has finally reached its breaking point: they have an iPhone model that can’t even be assembled without marring the construction materials, just how is that thing going to hold up in anything *other* than a case?

If you can’t deliver a $600 and up phone to the sales floor in *new* condition, there is a flaw. Given Apple’s track record in poor choices in construction materials, it is hardly surprising we’ve reached this point, but those pointing out that we’re now at the point you stand a good chance of buying a new phone in only very good condition don’t deserve #12’s ignorance and dismissiveness.

Posted by Code Monkey in Midstate New York on September 27, 2012 at 9:13 AM (PDT)

16

Off topic is talking about quality control issues with new items, Code Monkey.  The story was about damage in use.  Manufacturing issues are a different topic.
You’re right, they should have made the iPhone out of plastic.  And then people would complain about it getting scratched.  Or they could make it out of glass….and people would still compain about it getting scratched.  Name one smartphone that is made with a material sturdy enough to not get scratched or broken while in use.  I’m personally relieved that the took on side of glass out of the equation, but my 4S still looks perfect and remains unscratched and unbroken.  And I forgot until you pointed it out that Apple is the only company making thin phones and paying little attention to increasing battery life.  Even Motorola won’t release a great battery without also releasing a thinner, lighter version first, and they are the only ones who release two phones that are exactly the same except for the battery.

Posted by howyroark on September 27, 2012 at 12:38 PM (PDT)

17

...and still design a phone without the ability of swapping the battery out when it goes flat.

And before you jump all over me, I still recall the number of visitors to CES who were relieved to find charging stations at the iLounge booth, frustrated by the fact their wonderful iPhone battery was as flat as a pancake after a couple of hours wandering the halls…

But hey, Apple’s refusal to add the ability of the user being able to swap the battery on their phones ensures a healthy range of cases incorporating a battery…

Posted by Bob Levens in UK on September 27, 2012 at 3:19 PM (PDT)

18

#14 and #16, I read splendidly. Perhaps you’d missed (or misunderstood) some of the other comments made above by #5 and #6 (amongst others) on the topic.

#5 said that car paint jobs don’t last forever, which was a rather odd comparison since most cars I’ve purchased didn’t get damaged the day I drove them off the lot due to very fragile materials and build quality.

#6 mentioned that several iPhones came out of the box damaged (multiple in fact)  Plus, the discussion had already swerved in the direction of Apple build quality over the years since the first iPods (and everyone after) used materials that tended to scratch / mar instantly upon removing from the box unless you slapped on a cover.

I apologize if you didn’t see my comment in the greater context of the discussion, apparently you are right, and reading comprehension skills are abominable these days with certain people who post on discussion boards.  We really ought to organize and help educate the children!!

Posted by Jeff on September 27, 2012 at 3:29 PM (PDT)

19

Jeff, you said “totally agree number 12” which gave the impression that you were addressing his comment.  Perhaps your writing skills need attention rather than your reading skills.

Posted by howyroark on September 27, 2012 at 6:24 PM (PDT)

20

All right, this whole string is rather stupid, so I’ll make one last response. 

#19, you are a very good reader!  I did respond to #12 in my response. And if you read what #12 says, they merely say that Apple is under no obligation to make their items indestructible or bullet proof.  Now if I read that comment again, I don’t in any way see that they are responding to the fact that it scratches, or to the fact that throughout the rest of the string there is discussion around the materials Apple uses, a rather odd comparison to pain fading on a car, and then someone’s real life experience.

But hey #19, if you want to interpret that as an inability to write or read,rather than responding to the flow of a conversation, than you can go for it!

Posted by Jeff on September 27, 2012 at 8:20 PM (PDT)

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