iPhone 5 scratches 'normal,' Apple VP reportedly says

Apple Marketing Chief Phil Schiller reportedly tells an iPhone 5 buyer that the scratches and chips found on some new iPhone handsets are "normal" for aluminum products.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read
This image from MacRumors forum user MMM.PWR shows a scratch on the bottom corner of a new iPhone 5.
This image from MacRumors forum user MMM.PWR shows a scratch on the bottom corner of a new iPhone 5. MMM.PWR

Apple has reportedly responded to at least one complaint about the scratches and chips being discovered on the iPhone 5.

"Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color," Apple Senior Marketing VP Phil Schiller said in an e-mail, according to 9to5Mac. "That is normal."

Schiller apparently made the comment in an e-mail sent in response to iPhone 5 user "Alex." E-mailing Schiller that he loves his new iPhone, Alex asked about the scuffs, scratches, and marks appearing around the band and wondered if Apple had plans to fix the problem. Schiller's e-mail was received and its headers reportedly verified by 9to5Mac to authenticate the Apple VP as the source.

Soon after the iPhone 5 went on sale last Friday, users started filling up discussion forums and social networks with reports of scratches and nicks on their brand-new phones. People say they've noticed the defects around the aluminum band surrounding the phone, with the issue more visible on the black version of the new iPhone.

Tests of the iPhone 5 have shown that the new aluminum surface of the back and the edge around the band are softer and more vulnerable to scratching than was the glass surface used in previous models. So Schiller's remark seems accurate, though it's certainly not welcome news to new iPhone owners.

Besides, many buyers say their new phones are coming with scratches and scrapes right out of the box. Schiller's apparent comment that "any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use" doesn't address the issue of why these flaws are present from the get-go.

The handling of iPhone 5 units prior to being boxed and shipped may be introducing scratches and chips before buyers even receive the devices.

Assuming Schiller's comment is the official word from Apple thus far, iPhone 5 owners will likely have to get used to the scratches or simply find a nice case that can cover them up.

CNET contacted Apple for comment and will update the story if we receive any information.