updated 11:20 am EDT, Tue September 25, 2012
Aluminum may be more prone to cosmetic damage
Some cosmetic damage to the aluminum band around the iPhone 5 is "normal," according to an email from Apple's senior VP for worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller. The message was sent in reply to someone who noted that his and other black iPhones were showing "scuffs, scratches and marks" along the band. "What should we all do? Any plan to fix this?" the person wrote.
"Any aluminum product may scratch or chip with use, exposing its natural silver color. That is normal," Schiller emailed in response. Still unaddressed is the issue of some iPhone 5s shipping with damage already inflicted.
While the design of the iPhone 5 is similar in many ways to the iPhone 4S, it does use a notably different construction, for instance switching from Gorilla Glass to an aluminum back. Apple may have made the switch not only for aesthetics but to improve the iPhone's ability to withstand drops. While the glass backs of the iPhone 4 and 4S were less prone to scratching or chipping, there was a risk of them cracking completely if they hit a hard surface.