Apple’s marketing honcho on Scuffgate: scratches are normal

By , Sep 25, 2012

Phil Schiller, SVP of Worldwide Marketing, is also known as steward of Apple’s relationship with app developers. Increasingly, Schiller is becoming the public face of Apple, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given how he “channeled Jobs’s perspective so consistently”, according to a Businessweek profile.

Schiller was the guy who told us why the iPhone 5 doesn’t have NFC, he also lowered expectations that the Passbook app would become an e-wallet solution and reminded us of the Apple way of doing things.

And now, Apple has dispatched its marketing honcho to help alleviate growing concerns that the iPhone 5 is susceptible to scratches and scuffs due to its anodized aluminum surface being only skin deep…

You must have heard horror stories about the iPhone 5 being prone to ugly scratches due to wear and tear stemming from normal daily use. More worryingly, some users reported their iPhone 5 arriving scuffed and scratched out of the box.

9to5Mac claims to have obtained an email exchange between a concerned user and Apple’s marketing boss Phil Schiller.

Seeking clarification on so-called Scuffgate, the user wrote:

Good day Sir,

I love my Black & Slate iPhone 5, but I’ve been seeing some scuffs, scratches and marks throughout the band around the phone along with many others. What should we all do? Any plans to fix this?

Thank you.
Alex

To this, Schiller allegedly replied:

Alex

Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color. That is normal.

Phil

Here’s that message that 9to5Mac claims to be legit (“we verified headers”).

Author Seth Weintraub also notes:

We can also confirm Schiller is up and answering customer emails at 6:13 a.m. PST.

The iPhone 5 features Unibody construction, meaning its chassis is machined from a single block of aluminum. By replacing glass with aluminum, Apple made this the most durable iPhone yet.

The metal surface is also anodized to give it a slightly static and smooth texture. In a sense, your iPhone 5 and MacBook Pro both feature the same level of fit and finish of their respective metal enclosures, courtesy of anodizing.

Anodizing is an electrolytic passivation process which increases the thickness of the natural oxide layer on the metal’s surface.

The problem is, this layer runs only skin deep and can easily be peeled.

You can avoid this, of course, by using a case or being careful not to slide your iPhone inside a pocket along with your car keys, coins and other sharp objects.

Here’s iFixit iPhone 5 rear case scratch test.

That’s also why the new Lightning connector is rounded rather than rectangular, to eliminate the danger of scratching your device when connecting the cable to the phone’s smallish Lightning port.

So, assuming the email is legit, are you satisfied with Schiller’s explanation?

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  • http://twitter.com/l33tdawg l33tdawg

    FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU says the Internet

  • Timothy Do

    I guess scratched iPhones are the new “norm” now.

  • chin2793

    Doesn’t seem legit. This can’t be a reply from a marketing head of such a big company. It means they are accepting that it was their mistake to use aluminium which they were bragging about in terms of “premiumness”.

    • pegger1

      Did you forget the antenna issue of the iPhone4 that Steve Jobs himself emailed someone saying “you’re holding it wrong”.

      • chin2793

        Ahh ya I actually forgot that…:(

  • http://twitter.com/amcolash Andrew McOlash

    Haha. Glad I have the 4s now…

  • Miketyler

    It seems like iFixit can get a few iphones to smash into pieces while others wait patiently for there cherished device

  • M Last

    it’s okay
    did you forget about the first generation of iphone?
    I am very happy with my iphone 5
    what do you want? when they made glass back cover you weren’t happy because crash easy now they did metal ,again no happy???????
    do you like piece of plastic like Samsung or other company?

    • http://twitter.com/e420kush e420Kush

      People will always find a way to complain, People are never happy, and will always have to find something to bitch about to fill that void in their heart. Remember the iPod touches with the silver back? Those baks get scratched easy as hell! Even without keys just sliding in and out of your jean pockets for a few weeks will give the back an ugly scratched up worn look. This is not new people.

      • 4p0c4lyps3

        Lol, ‘void in their heart!’

      • Kurt

        it is new, because the last 2 years we haven’t had scratches on our phones. don’t you understand the problem people have with the new iphone?

        glass is very hard, which is why people can sharpen a carbon steel knife with the edge of glass. paint is very very very soft. and aluminum is a very very soft metal. now do you understand a little bit better?

      • Bunlong Moeung

        me too. my iphone got from Apple store USA, Then I unbox at home I found scratch at sim tray.So attention pls.

      • Kurt

        thats sad. sorry to hear that. maybe it happened during the riot at foxconn? jk

      • John

        Im pretty sure you would not be happy if you paid $700 dollars for the iPhone 5 only to find it with scuffs and damage upon opening the box for the first time. According to stats 36% of iPhone 5 buyers fall into this category. So sorry but yes, this is new and totally unacceptable for a company that usually delivers a premium product.

    • Kurt

      i never liked the original iphone since it would dent and scratch so easily. i loved the iphone 4 and the second gen of the iphone 4-the iphone 4S. as i don’t use a case, but im careful with the phone so i have zero scratches on this bad boy. even the bezel is mint. but i lost interest in the iphone 5 (3rd gen of the iphone 4) as it was a revert to scratches and dents like the 2007 iphone

  • http://twitter.com/naruron Ibrahim Aygun

    It’s unacceptable.

  • http://twitter.com/alexx1291 Cazz

    Well those who don’t use a case are doomed. why wouldn’t you use a case anyway?? Then wonder why you couldn’t get as much in the buy back program as one who kept their phone in awesome condition. Aluminum scratches easily compared to just glass. Try taking a pin and scratching both phones and see which comes out superior.

    • chin2793

      So far I used to have case for my iPhone4 but I personally think that case will cover the beautiful back design of iPhone5.

  • thedarkknight80

    As opposed to ifixit scratch test, i have watched several videos on youtube, showing and confirming that the scratches can be easily wiped off with your hand , as if nothing was there ( on the aluminium back, not the sides ) .

    This whole scuffgate thing is confusing me , but i’m still getting the black iphone 5 .
    Too sexy to pass on !

    • pegger1

      You can’t wipe off a scratch that has removed the color.

    • http://www.facebook.com/DefJamz Andre Kingpin

      Can you remove the damage from a keyed car?

      • Guest

        yes, that’s what those videos exactly showed : the guy would scratch the back of his black iphone 5 with a car key, then simply wipe it off !

      • http://twitter.com/Joe_Bro_ Joseph Yates

        There are car models that have paint that automatically fills in light scratches… but unfortunately not iphones :/

  • http://twitter.com/enarth Bobdole

    Come on, any material, other than glass, is going to get scratch marks from that kind of test… but no one bother making a fuss out of plastic back smartphone…

    I guess that when you can easily replace it, it is not as big of a deal…

    So why not be bothered by the important issue (easily.cheap replaceable parts), instead of saying aluminium get scratch mark ?

    • http://twitter.com/e420kush e420Kush

      agreed. Protect your investment.

    • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

      apple used a cheap finishing process… painted metal.lololol should have used darkened metal the brushed it..

      • http://twitter.com/aomia syler

        i agree any time you paint metal it will scratch and show the true metal color. should have used powder coat it holds up better to scratches

  • Infone

    Ahem, all the aluminum MacBooks are the same as this. Nothing new here.

  • http://www.facebook.com/DefJamz Andre Kingpin

    Legit from sales point of view. Invalid from an Apple’s customer stance. You see, if I were to buy an Apple product, I wouldn’t want it discolored due to ‘peeling’ or chips. I want my Apple product to be as pristine a year down the road. Scratches ARE an eye sore to someone who demands perfection in terms of looks. Cases isn’t THE solution. It hides the beauty of the phone. Ol’ Stevie is rolling in his grave for this Scuffgate. 1-2 days of usage has resulted in unsightly chips and scratches. Is this REALLY an Apple product?

    • ReanimationXP

      Where were you complainers when the entire iPod line, for generations, had the silver back that scratched if you looked at it wrong?

    • MIke

      You should wrap it in a silk cloth like most iphone users do. And polish it every couple of hours.

  • Mervyn

    guys the back aluminium is prone to scratch but it can easily be wiped out by ur hands… it does go off completely… i scratched it many times with ma car keys and was able to wipe it off… what i didnt like was the edge which is very prone to scuffs and marks and over time will become sharp enough to scratch me!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/kooolaj Anuj Mali

    dose white one has same results ????

  • Gerard Hampton

    apple products are known for their looks and classiness. this is a bit of a design flaw. how about someone sands off all the colour and makes theirs an aluminium coloured iphone. any takers? i think it could look good. do iiiiitttt!

    • http://twitter.com/e420kush e420Kush

      no.

    • http://www.facebook.com/derfaust.mobile Der Faust

      tape it up….just remove the stock color….and use some good auto paint :)……

  • http://twitter.com/S_Lacertosa Stefano

    My back and slate came with a near two inch scuff on the back. When I got home I took a dustless rag to ‘buff’ it out and all I did was lighten it to a dull mark

  • Mohammad Ridwan

    You’re just holding it wrong…. ;)

  • PathKiller29

    “Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use”
    is he implying they’re used out of the box? :P

    • Kurt

      yeah, buying the phone from an apple store and taking it home in the box unopened is considered “using it” so once you open it and take it out of the box expect it to be scuffed up with a few scratches and chips in the paint. hey it’s the biggest thing to happen to iphone since iphone

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Tony-Olba/100002685019662 Tony Olba

    This is prime example of not having Jobs anymore to run the show. Apple is now suckish! Admit it ppl.

    And think about your iPhone 5 having plenty of scratches exposing its natural aluminum? Wil you ever have no fear of taking it out of the smartphone crowd?

  • Chaotic Buddhist

    Looks like it’s time to upgrade to an iPhone 4S… I’m skipping the 5 totally.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jmitaritonna Justin Mitaritonna

    That’s Made in China for you!

  • http://www.facebook.com/razick.rilshad Razick Rilshad

    People don’t like the good stuff they jelous

  • Irfan Tarique

    wrapping it in bubble wrap should do the trick

  • http://www.idownloadblog.com Sebastien

    This guy is not scratching the back panel of the iPhone 5. He’s merely putting his key on it. It happens on any surface.

  • http://twitter.com/lgasparjnr laszlo gaspar

    The last iPhone gets scratched easily but I think this one will be even easier to scratch up.

  • William Worlde

    Apple said it’s OK for it to scratch, even brand new in the box, so of course, they are right. This 5 is alike Windows Me and Vista: Lousy, substandard “interim” products. The 4S corrected the 4′s antenna issue. A more resilient case would give us the 5S next year perhaps? And, I have held and compared the 5 side-by-side to the 4S at the Apple store; the latter is WAY more premium a device (and if it was scratched, I couldn’t tell compared to all the scratches on the 5!). If the 4S came with the new internals of the 5, it’d be a fantastic product. Notice I said “internals”. When I compared the devices, the *elongated* screen bump by 0.5″(!) to 4″ wasn’t a huge factor. I believe an Android-type 4.3″ screen would have made for a better aspect ratio.
    Apple knows that people would buy their devices, whether it was ready to go or not. They know that if they were to tell consumers that smartphones are not yet ready for NFC, people’d accept it. This even though a smartphone is probably the most ubiquitous device in the world today. “Third/Developing world” countries, like India use their devices for payment, and am not certain, but almost sure some European/Asian countries do too. But here in less-technology-progressive – not to be confused with disposable income – NA, Apple says there is no need for NFC yet and of course there is no need for it yet. Absolutely amazing!
    But none of this matters to folks who must have an Apple-made device (or a
    Samsung, or HTC, etc.). It just blows my mind that people do not take
    into account it’s their money they are spending and should demand good and not sloppy products – and not accept such arrogant excuses, and worse yet, be defending those inferior products! (Unless of course, you are a stakeholder in the company, then more power to you.) Oh well…
    **Disclaimer: I currently own a beautiful 3GS and will be upgrading to a 4S or converting to a much more advanced Android device. After all, it is MY money that I’ll be spending.

    • 4p0c4lyps3

      It’s my money, and i want it now! Gd it

  • http://www.facebook.com/joe.jonsen Joe Jonsen

    cheap shoddy production process to save money.. typical capitalism greed that corporations like to do.. I will be getting the white on just cause of this..

  • http://www.facebook.com/LethoeshatedadedicatedfatherGreen Keith Green

    Yep. My black ip5 didn’t last 24 hrs b4 getting scratched. All I did was put in in the same pocket as my ip4S and figured since the 4S had a screen protector on it that it wudnt scratch my 5. I was wrong. It was scratched up all around the apple. It sucked. In the end I got my phone replaced for another reason and I know to b super careful with it now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LethoeshatedadedicatedfatherGreen Keith Green

    The white ones look awesome n person and they r not painted. I wish they just left the bare aluminum on the black one too.

  • Eric Armstrong

    It sounds like more people than I though are not fans of cases, bumpers and screen protectors. But, could you guys do an article on the best way to protect the fragile iPhone 5? Any interesting cases like those invisible shields or clear plastic cases that will protect our phone without preventing us from viewing that sexy slate?

  • http://twitter.com/Joe_Bro_ Joseph Yates

    That kid is going to run around doing that same thing to everyone’s iPhones now…

  • http://twitter.com/randomprice Sol Estravís

    This is the only thing that didn’t leak before the announcement.
    “The iPhone 5′s back cover is ultra scratchy!”

    • Kurt

      i knew it would scratch because they weren’t going to use glass anymore. but i had no idea it would scratch like this and look as bad as it does. it sucks to have to use a case. i love not using a case on my iPhone 4S

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002911788608 Ricardohakr Monterrubio

    I think that for a company like apple it is not a good response but I accept the honesty of Schiller

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Eric-Bartoszak/723840180 Eric Bartoszak

    lol this is ridiculous. Sorry but i cant stick up for Apple on this one. it is a huge flaw in the product that is supposed to be top notch. they should have used bare metal or have gone with a better finishing process. Don’t they test these phones for durability???? I bet they dont. they need to start testing these phones in the real world before manufacturing and selling 20 million.You’d think for such a huge company with all that money and talent that they could get that right.. but hey maybe in the iphone 6.

  • Donovan Wynter

    The iphone is losing its touch of class still not eager to get the iphone 5 from the reviews i,m seeing all over the net……….sticking with my 4s 64GB

    • Kurt

      if the next iphone is just another rendition of this phone im moving to something else. at least apple can change the button. why does the iphone have to look like a phone from 2007? change something! if not, im moving to nokia lumia (what ever the next version will be)

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisRigby80 Christopher Rigby

    my iPhone 5 arrived out the box with specs of paint missing around the rim like the photo in the article. As its out of stock with my network for 3-4 weeks I wont be getting a different one any time soon

  • http://twitter.com/Andr0me7a Petri Pan

    Some people remind me of the time when others try to claim that smoking is actually not unhealthy or Amalgam teeth fillings have no issues. and now they try to tell us that scratches are actually nothing to be worried about since the phone works anyway. Apple might have had the goal to make the lightest phone which can withstand a drop and did see that most users use cases anyway. A “Scratchgate” will only cost a paid case from Apple $10 or less. But please remove that Ad with the High-tech precision manufacturing, everybody can do that with Aluminum. I hope the paint is at least applied on high heat process, before components are assembled.

  • Omnifkin

    I guess he won’t mind if I scratch up the iPhones at the Apple Store then.

  • http://twitter.com/sarojasureddy saroja sureddy

    Buy a Nokia Lumia phone and you will not see any scratches or scuffs. With Gorilla Glass and Unibody Polycarbonate it rock solid durable as ever.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Lucidmike78 Michael Ma

    Delicate is just a sales spin for the word “cheap”.

  • jean

    Yesterday, I went to an Apple store to grad a 64Gb black iPhone 5. The person helping me out opened 4 different boxes and each phone came out with an unbelievable amount of dings and scratches. He was very apologetic. But I needed a phone so I ended up going home with a pretty scratched up 500 dollars iPhone (after the discount). I have until the 21st of this month, if Apple cannot come up with a scratch free iPhone for their consumer I will be leaving the Apple ecosystem for good over this madness.