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How's the anodized aluminum on your iPhone 5 holding up?

How's the anodized aluminum on your iPhone 5 holding up? You know, the chamfer that runs along the display, and the unibody in silver or slate that covers the sides and most of the back of your iPhone? When Apple first announced the latest generation iPhone, there were some concerns that the aluminum was soft, the anodization didn't include sufficient layers, and that it was, in general, too easy to chip, dent, and otherwise scuff. Well, the iPhone 5 has been on the market for just over four months now, plenty of time to get a realistic idea of how it works in, and holds up to, the demands of everyday life.

I use iPhone 5 cases intermittently when I'm testing or reviewing them, but most of the time my iPhone is as naked as the day Jony Ive designed it. I like the look. But I've dropped it on pavement a couple times now and have the chips and dings to show for it. That hasn't encouraged me to slap a permanent case on it any more than blaster fire and asteroid bumps encouraged Han Solo to slap a Corellian freighter bra on the Millennium Falcon, but I know not everyone shares my affection for aged and used objects. I know some people go nuts at even the thought of a hairline scratch...

So how's your iPhone 5 looking? Pampered and perfect, as mint and museum condition as the day it shipped? Or worn in, torn into, and maybe even battered a bit? Fourth months later, how's your iPhone 5 casing holding up?

If you've got a picture, share it with us in the iPhone 5 Forum battle damage thread.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I dropped it, so it's scratched. It was doing very well until I went to skyzone houston and my friend was watching over my stuff and scratched it all up.
  • My iPhone5 still looks new and I've had it since the day it was released. No case, just careful.
  • Almost the same. One small ding from somewhere unbeknownst to me...pretty nonetheless.
  • Same for me. I go naked but take very good care of it. Never drop it. I have scratches around the edges and one big scratch across the back that has me completely perplexed.
  • Dropped mine once, (Never dropped my 4 in the 2 years I had it) and it has a huge bend in the aluminum side and a long scratch along the side of it. Dropped from pocket height onto wood.
  • I keep mine in some sort of case at all times unless I am in my home, so it is still perfect.
  • Same here. Take it out about once a month to blow all the dust/lint off and back onto the case. Every time it comes out, I tell myself "I wish I had the guts to keep it naked"
  • Haha I feel you! I find my self looking at it thinking "this sure is such a nice phone to have to keep it covered." And then my kids come tearing through the house and right back in the case it goes!
  • Invisible shield. It won't protect against impacts but it'll protect against scratches and allow you to showcase the beautiful design of your phone.
  • When my iphone was delivered to my house I stopped to the AT&T store and purchased a case and an invisible shield and now it lives inside a lifeproof case. The phone still looks the same way as the day I received it. But I'm like you wish I had the guts to use it naked all the time.
  • Is your home outfitted with rubber floors?
  • My iPhone 5 lock button stopped working so I got another one
  • No marks at all on my iPhone5, but my black iPad mini has lost the black. on the top right edge next to the glass. Not best pleased about that.
  • I use only a bumper case on the sides. Still looks perfect as the day I got it. No scratches
  • I have OCD so the smallest imperfection is going to ruin my enjoyment of the phone. So though I would love to roll with it naked what would be the point if I would have to live with it until the iPhone 6 feeling less enjoyment over fingerprint smudges, dust, scrapes or dings. So my iPhones always get encased on day one and this bad boy is no different. I take it out every month or so to wipe it down and clean it up before it gets suite up again. This time I did go with a Lifeproof case over the Defender because the Lifeproof keeps it just as thin and just as light so it's a nice compromise between the look and the protection. I would still love to use it naked if it's possible I'm considering Applecare+ and Zagg for my next iPhone.
  • Big ugly case over the phone is somewhat of an imperfection though.
  • Big ugly scratch or gouge or crack on the phone is somewhat of an imperfection too. Personally I'd rather have the case over it and prevent that sort of thing (tho my case is a bit thinner and subtler than the Lifeproof or Defender).
  • Remember not to drive your car either. It could get dinged when you go to the store. :rolleyes:
  • Zagg screen protectors are a good choice, as they provide pretty good protection for your screen without being too ugly or adding any bulk. And if you plan on keeping your iPhone long term, Apple Care is always wise to get. One caveat about Zaggs, tho: if you have OCD tendencies they can be a bit frustrating, as they can be a real "female dog" to put on correctly without any bubbles or dust getting inside. I've been using them for years so I have a little experience here. The key is to wash your hands but leave them wet (at least damp) so you know they're free of any towel lint or dust, and the Zagg won't stick to your hands. If you use the solution (liquid) that comes with the Zagg, it's easier. I find that it helps a lot to spray the phone's screen with it first (without putting on too much and getting it too wet!) and then line up the bottom part around the home button, then work my way up. Then I push out any bubbles with a credit card or that rubber thing that comes with the Zagg. Any tiny leftover micro-bubbles will work their way out over time, so don't worry about them. Or you can just say "screw it" and let the pros handle it: I just let the helpful lady at T-Mobile put my screen protector on, and she did a magnificent job; no bubbles or dust in there at all. And the Lifeproof cases are a bit bulky but they can be real lifesavers (or at least phone savers) especially if you have kids; my sister has one on her iPhone 5 and it's been a Godsend for her with my little nephew running around and getting a hold of it sometimes. Those with small children know what I'm talking about.
  • I almost always have no case and I've dropped it a few times in dirt. The chamfer is scratched and the plastic lining for the screen is scuffed but otherwise it's perfect. Barely noticible.
  • I've dropped my white/aluminum iPhone 5 on the floor twice since owning it (once on to a tile floor from about 2 feet in height, and the other time on to a linoleum floor from about 3 feet in height). As a result, I have a small chip in the bezel near the headphone jack and a small dent in the silvery area near the speaker). And that's about it. I never use a case with my iPhone 5, as I love the feel of the naked iPhone in the hand. I do plan, however, to get a waterproof and crushproof case for my iPhone 5 in the near future for use when I go out hiking, but not until the reviews come out (there are a few on their way to the market).
  • What would you guys rather have though, the glass back of the 4/4s or the aluminum of the 5?
  • Glass for sure...I dropped my iPhone 4 so many times, at varying heights and it never shattered. Unless your drop it really hard, it was great.
  • Glass. Much less susceptible to scratches.
  • I would agree, I loved the glass of the 4/4S. The new 5 is a scratch magnet and it shows age much quicker. My 4 and 4S were always without a case and looked brand new.
  • Not so much the glass, but the stainless steel. I liked the stainless steel so much more. The whole time I had my iPhone 4, it never got any scratches, dents, or gouges in it whatsoever. I didn't care that it weighed more, because it was more durable than the aluminum. The glass, on the other hand... I don't miss it at all. Tho it did look nicer than the 2-tone back of the 5/5S, I feel.
  • I've been using a case ever since I dropped my iPhone 3 and destroyed the glass front, so of course my iPhone 5 went from box to case without a break. It's still fresh as a daisy!
  • Ironically, I've noticed that my iPhone 5 is more prone to scratches when using cases. Specifically, it's virtually impossible to remove the phone from a case without scratching the chamfered edge with a fingernail.
  • Try a TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) case. They're more flexible, so the case can be removed more easily without having to use so much force that you damage the aluminum.
  • Mine is scratched up because of the case I've been using. Case mate. So I think the quality sucks for a product this expensive..
  • Mine has a tiny tiny chip on the top, but other than that it's in perfect condition. I keep a case on it most of the time.
  • I had a bumper for the first month. Then felt "why am I being so paranoid" and took it off. A month later and the edges have random silver spots and I never even dropped it so I put the bumper back. I know our phones are tools it's silly to be so cautious about scratches but considering the slightest imperfection destroys the resale value then it does suck that Apple didn't do a good job with the edges.
  • Exactly, resale value is really the only reason to use a case.. If you're concerned about it being pretty, a case ruins that right away.
  • Mine was naked until a week ago or so, and it's got a few dings here and there because it's taken a few trips off the bedside table (having a 3yo who likes to pillow fight can be dangerous for your stuff :) but that wasn't actually why I encased it...I *like* how it looks when a bit dinged and means it's been used. I encased it because at the office of the client I'm at lately (3 months of boredom left lol!) we have formaica-covered desks, which are slippery as hell, and the phone has taken more bumps off the stupid desks here than off my night table under attack of my 3yo. Most probably, once I'm out of this place (did I mention 3 months left on the project?) I'll go back to carrying it naked.
  • I would love to have my new iPhone in a titanium body instead of glass or aluminum
  • Oh, hell yeah. Titanium would make it stupidly expensive, but it would rule.
  • I use a case, but for a long time I wasn't able to find a case I was happy with. I haven't dropped my iPhone since I got it. I'm pretty careful this way. My wife has an iPhone 4 that's naked and she hasn't dropped it either. I still want to get a case for the 4 since it's pretty likely to shatter if dropped. I just haven't found good case for her yet. I haven't been looking all that hard either. :)
  • Other than the nicks/scratches on the chamfered edge that came from the factory, my iP5 looks great. I use a BookBook these days when I'm not at my desk at work or at home, and I found some old Fellowes "PDA screen covers" that I custom cut to cover just the aluminum part on the back. I'm terrified of scratching the reflective Apple logo. So far so good.
  • Using cases always feels too much like putting plastic covers on your furniture or car seats. I just got an Otterbox defender today to keep my iPhone 5 safe on the ski slopes and it feels enormous compared to the naked phone. My iPhone 4 was great at resisting scratches, despite not being in a case, the only thing I was always careful about was not to keep it in the same pocket as my coins or keys.
  • I upgrade my iPhone when a new one is released, unlock the previous out-of-contract one legitimately through AT&T so that I can eBay it as a factory-unlocked model. I generally have gotten $100 more than the carrier-subsidized upgrade pricing I paid. That's the primary reason each new one goes from box-to-protective case when I get it, knowing that each one will eventually be paying for the next one... Guess if I had money to burn, it wouldn't matter...
  • I dropped it on concrete once, and a corner got heavily nicked and scratched. I have a few minor nicks here and there as well. I had kept it in pristine condition for a while. Currently, I put a case on when I go out and I have touched up the nicks with a removable sharpie pen.
  • I use a casecrown and ghost armor for the screen. So mine still looks perfect.
  • I keep my black iPhone in a pocket without coins or keys. I've had it since early Nov and no case and no scratches or nicks. I dropped it once from about 3 feet onto a tile floor. No marks. So far.
    I think glass is too heavy a material for the whole back. Plastic scratches. No easy solution I guess.
  • Mine black i5 looks brand new and I received it on release day. I do use a case on it 90% of the time. When it is nude, I baby it. I also avoid slider cases as those have always been known to scratch phones.
  • Looks new, keep it in an Otterbox Defender (soon to be a Lunatik Taktik!).
  • Mine has a couple dings and one deep one. However, I'm taking my iPhone back to the Apple Store next thursday as my camera has problems. It had pink lines cutting through the screen and causes the to crash. It's done it since I got it, the day it came out. I've had enough of it now as it happens 50% of the time. Here's a link to a video with someone who has the exact some problem. It's going to be the first iPhone I've returned since the 3G.
  • I have skipped the iPhone five because of this issue.
    I would Welcome carbon fiber. it is stronger than steel.
    I think would be cheaper to produce carbon fiber then F.....g Aluminium!
  • What will apple do with the aluminum mines?
  • My iphone5 still looking perfect... caseless for the most part... using a casemate snap case at the moment... my ipad mini on the other hand... dinged and scratched pretty bad from a drop... still caseless... both black/slate
  • Pampered and perfect, as mint and museum condition as the day it shipped for sure. I've had it on Verizon since the day it first shipped. I have had it naked for some time but I've changed cases a few times because I get bored of one color. I've never dropped it on a hard surface. No scratches. Nothing. Perfection. :)
  • I've had the black iPhone 5 since launch day. There are a couple of small scratches on the sides, but I think it's only because I like to switch out my different cases so much. Even when I'm rocking it naked no one could probably tell but me. Also, I have never dropped it - not even once. Overall I'm very happy with the way it looks. Right now I'm rocking an Element Case Sector 5 so no scratches as of late!
  • I went old school. I use a holster and a very slim back-sides case. This combination keeps my phone handy and protected while in use. Looks like the day I opened the box.
  • I keep it naked but mine looks almost new. I do however take great care to make sure no harm comes to it ( i cant get a new phone for a while)
  • I've had mine for about a 3 weeks to a month and I'm very careful, but there is definitely "wear and tear" on the anodized aluminum. I'm probably 9 out of 10 on the careful scale i.e. I don't put anything in the same pocket as my caseless iPhone 5. Even so after one month I already have a chip in it around the rim. I'm definitely disappointed and almost returned the phone because of this.
  • The most easily damaged phone I've ever owned. Not happy. I was going to skip the 5S but the damage to this one already has me reconsidering buying it and slapping a bumper on it immediately. Catch 22 for me. A bulky case takes away the sexiness of the hardware but its clear this phone does not handle wear and tear well.
  • Had the white iPhone 5 for just over a month now. Dropped it a couple times on hardwood and carpet floor; slid it across work desks and kitchen tables; had it stuck between the cracks of the couch and sat on it without realizing it; and just general daily usage checking mail, playing games, and browsing the web. It still looks totally fine and brand new. The button's functionality is also like brand new. All of this thudding and squishing with only a thin screen protector and soft gel case covering the rest of the body, and it still faired extremely well.
  • I got mine on launch day and it is still mint as is my iPad mini. Ive had every iPhone and never used a case on them and never will.
  • Front and back look pristine. Edges look like they have been through the war. Interestingly enough I never drop it with the exception of when I'm at work which is physically labor intensive so I use an otterbox (no case when not at work). All the damage seems to be from being in the otterbox. I'm assuming it's from debris in the case rubbing? Doesn't bother me though. Don't mind my phone looking used and I do terrible things to the battery in a years time from constant use and charging so I get a new one at each update.
  • Like new after one month. No case.
  • I've got plenty of scratches on my unlocked iphone5, does any one know how much i could sell it? otherwise it works like a charm
  • dlkj
  • My iPhone 5 looks brand new under the case and screen protector. Never even dropped it once in its life.
  • Always in a case but the glass has a scratch on it hitch is strange because my 4 and 4s glass fronts are still perfect. Is it the same gorilla glass?
  • Apple iPhone 5 Smartphone:: Plus and Minus points of iPhone
  • Mine has gotten more scratches with the case on it than not. I took it if off one day and it had scratches on the sides caused by it. I go back and forth with leaving it on or taking it off. I guess it really doesnt matter either way.
  • I haven't had mine too long (5 months). I run my phone naked most of the time with minimal cases the rest of the time. Still in love
  • As pristine as the day I got it, I use a thin gel case while at work doing industrial stuff. Outside of work, the dust is blown off to reveal its fantastic lines
  • I have had the whight one for 9 months not a scratch I have always used a case
  • I love the look of my Iphone 5 BUT as soon as I brought my phone I had to get a case for my little gadget.
    I love the look of my iPad and my daughters iPad mini too. But I cant risk them being dropped, broken or smashed glass.
    So I just have to put up with the way they look in cases. I would cry if they were damaged.
  • I never had had an iPhone...I have gotten my hands on one...I was checking out my ex-girlfriend's iPhone 4. It has a huge crack running through the middle of the screen. My friend at school shattered his back of his iPhone 4. Everyone that I know has the 4th...all cracked! I have dropped my Motorola Droid X2 phone and it scratched the screen. Can't see it unless you have a glare. Also, the phone is scuffy and discoloured on sharp and rounded edges.
  • I have had mine in a case with a scratch guard right out of the box...same as all my past iPhones. It never dawned on me that that gray part was metal,, I thought it was just glass with a coating or something. Imagine my surprise when I changed to a different case and there's a big a$$ dent right in the middle of my 3 week old phone! I just can't even think of anything to cause it,, I've never dropped it or anything. Haven't a clue what happened. Will order a replacement back when I sell it some day so it won't cause a big price drop for it. If its this cheap it would be a waste to replace it now because if I ever do actually drop it it will probably crumble or something.
    How cheap Apple.
  • I don't have an iPhone 5, and this is entirely anecdotal, but every single black 5 I've seen thus far has had various scratches, dings, and dents along the edges, with the anodized coating wearing off, and they just generally look like crap. The white ones tend to hold up better, or at least they hide the damage better. So I would've gone with the white 5, just for that reason.
  • When your phone get scratched, it is unique, it is a sign of yours .. your phone with the human condition.