The questionnaire asked buyers the question: “Is your black iPhone 5 scuffed, chipped or scratched?” with the following four categories as answer options:
- Flawless because I put a case on it.
- Scuffed out of the box
- Scuffed/scratched shortly after
Of those polled, 36.16 percent voted that their iPhone 5 was “scuffed out of the box.” This accounts for approximately 474 of the voters, becoming the second-most popular of the four answer choices. At 49.12 percent, nearly half of those surveyed said that their iPhone 5 came “flawless” out of the box.
The thread on MacRumors, which has surpassed 115 pages in length, contains a mix of user complaints and discussions about the hardware featured on the iPhone 5.
“This is disappointing,” one user wrote in the forum. “If it does indeed scratch there is also no easy swap in removing the back and replacing it with a new fresh unscathed back. Will have to find an excuse to get it replaced at the Apple store free of charge.”
The reports of scuffed and scratched devices prompted some iPhone 5 owners to consider the white variant over the black version.
“Apple should have thought of this!” one user posted. “Almost makes me want to get the white now. Those scratches are really going to annoy me.”
“I’m also worried about this, and it’s one reason I’m considering white again,” another wrote.
Apple has yet to comment on the matter, and complaints have also reached the official Apple Support Communities forum.
The issue is believed to be caused by a problem with the anodized aluminum surface, reports AllThingsD. Apple’s iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 were both made using stainless steel and glass for its front and back sides; the iPhone 5 is the first Apple smartphone to be constructed with aluminum, similar to the material used to make the company's lightweight laptops.
The anodization process incorporated into the iPhone 5’s aluminum body is what gives both the black and white versions their color. The same procedure does not apply for devices made of stainless steel, which is more resistant to scratches than aluminum according to AllThingsD. The tech news source’s staff also received iPhones with “visible (albeit small) nicks directly out of the package, having had no prior contact with the device,” as Mike Isaac of the publication writes.
Following these claims, the iFixit team took it upon themselves to test the durability of the iPhone 4S versus the iPhone 5. A video was posted on the electronics repair team’s website which revealed that the iPhone 5 is more easily damaged by other metal objects. During the test, a two-year-old child was given a set of metal keys and told to “smash the iPhone 5.” After the device had been repeatedly smacked and scratched with the set of keys, numerous markings were visible on the iPhone 5’s rear casing.
“Actually, it’s worse than I thought,” said M.J. of iFixit in the video. “But if you look closely, you can see a lot of the scratches too and there’s a little dent in that Apple.”
Before these complaints had begun to surface, an analyst had praised the materials used in the hardware of Apple’s iPhone 5. In a research note following the device’s release, Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster referred to Apple’s new smartphone as the “Rolex of smartphones.”
“The majority of other phones are dominated by lesser quality plastic and feel more like Timexes,” he said according to ZDNet. “Why would someone buy a Timex when they can have a Rolex for the same price?”
These physical issues with the iPhone 5 come on the heels of a recent report that revealed iPhone repairs since 2007 have surpassed $5.9 billion in the U.S. This is more money that President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will spend on their presidential campaigns combined, the report says.