Some new iPhone 5 users are griping that they received scuffed or scratched handsets out of the box, while others are reporting the new iPhone is more susceptible to nicks than previous models. Apple sold more than 5 million iPhone 5 handsets since Friday, and it’s difficult to know how widespread this issue is.
At the moment, critics are suggesting the new phone’s anodized aluminium body is less resistant to minor scuffs and scratches than previous models, including the glass back on the iPhone 4S. Most scuff complaints are directed at the black version of the iPhone 5 rather than the white, which may be a result of light-coloured defects being more obvious on the black model.
The electronics DIY site and teardown specialists iFixit recently posted a video demonstrating the apparent poor durability of the iPhone 5’s exterior. Apple-focused site MacRumors posted an informal poll of 1315 readers who claimed to have a new iPhone 5. The not-so-scientific poll found that about 36 percent of respondents had scuffs on new iPhones that were straight from the factory. The majority, around 49 percent, said their phone was flawless.
Apple has yet to officially respond to the scuff complaints—predictably dubbed “scuffgate” by some factions of the tech press–but this is not the first time that following an Apple device launch early adopters have dealt with product quality issues. In 2010, new iPhone 4 users complained about a yellow discolouration on the handset’s Retina displays. This problem was later traced to the bonding agent Apple uses on its devices and the discolouration disappeared over the next few days. The next year, new iPad 2 buyers grumbled about backlight bleeding issues where patches of light appeared around the edges of the tablet’s screen, often noticeable when the screen is black.
If you’ve purchased a black iPhone 5, you may want to consider getting a case for the device if you’re concerned about the phone’s durability. You could also take your phone back to an Apple Store to try to get a replacement if you believe your handset shipped with defects.