iPhone 5: Black vs White

For the first time choosing the right color iPhone is much more than a matter of personal preference. The black iPhone 5 doesn’t age as well as the white iPhone 5, which means you may be forced to walk around with a ragged looking iPhone for two years and get less money for it when it’s time to trade it in.

Apple first introduced the white iPhone 3G in 2008, a year after launching the original iPhone as. Some people had a strong preference for the white iPhone 3G because of the novelty and what some consider to be a more feminine or fashionable appearance. My wife opted for the white iPhone four of the past five iPhone generations (3G, 3GS, 4S and 5), with the only exception being a black iPhone 4 since Apple didn’t offer the device at launch.

Read: iPhone 5 Review: Two Months With the New iPhone

I added both a black iPhone 5 and white iPhone 5 to my smartphone collection on September 21, the day Apple launched its latest smartphone. I’m not a typical smartphone subscriber since I buy multiple devices per year on various networks for more work here at GottaBeMobile. I use Google Voice and some iOS 6 features to make shuffling between devices phones as possible.

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White and Black iPhone 5 (click to enlarge)

After just over two-months of use, my black iPhone 5 looks ragged and worn, while my white iPhone 5 looks brand spanking new, even though I’ve kept both in cases and treated them both carefully.

The back of the white iPhone 5 has a strip of white at the top and bottom. Most of the back is plain anodized aluminum. By nature, anodized aluminum is pretty durable, which is one of the reasons Apple uses the material throughout its Mac and iOS device lineups. As you can see in the above photo, the back of my white iPhone 5 is flawless.


Pock marks on the back of the iPhone 5 (click to enlarge)

The back of the black iPhone 5 has a black coating, but underneath the coating is the same bright anodized aluminum finish as what’s on the white iPhone 5. The bright aluminum really shines through when the black coating is scratched or scuffed. The small pock marks in the above photo were caused by debris stuck between the back of the iPhone and its case.

The white iPhone 5 has bare metal edges, while the darker iPhone 5’s edges are blacked out. My white iPhone 5’s edges look as good as they do the day I unboxed the device.

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Aluminum Starting to Show Through on Top Edge of the Black iPhone 5

The black coating’s rubbed off on parts of the black iPhone 5, including the edge above the Lightning connector, the top edge above front-facing camera and both sides.

The black color doesn’t chip and scratch off the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4S because glass covered the colored parts and the edges are bare anodized aluminium. Of course the glass back on the older iPhones are prone to shattering when dropped.

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Side of this Black iPhone 5 is Ragged After Two Months (click to enlarge)

All of this damage’s occurred in less than three months while in various cases. I imagine it’d look a lot rougher if I didn’t put in a case, which is exactly what a lot of iPhone 5 owners do.

In general iPhone 5 is built to impeccable standards, but the black finish’s durability is a glaring exception to Apple’s quality control.

The iPad mini is faces the same issue as the iPhone 5, but I haven’t noticed any scuffs on my black iPad mini yet. I have my fingers crossed, but I’m pretty sure my black iPad mini won’t stay as clean as our white one.

Apple needs to do something to improve the black iPhone’s durability so its customers can go back to choosing a color based on personal preference rather than choosing the color that doesn’t scratch.