Apple’s marketing honcho on Scuffgate: scratches are normal

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.

To this, Schiller allegedly replied:


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


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?