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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.



  1. Will

    12/04/2012 at 10:21 am

    My black iPhone 5 looks just as brand new as it did on release day. And I’m using a very thin clear case. I had the white iPhone 4S, which I think looks better than the black iPhone 4S. But I think with the iPhone 5 the black one looks better to me so I got that one.

    • Suzy.

      04/01/2013 at 6:08 pm

      Yes, you’re right!

  2. Matt

    12/07/2012 at 2:38 pm

    Good article, has helped me make up my mind on which color. Wish I could go with black but it seems to make little sense.

    • Will

      12/07/2012 at 2:42 pm

      Dude, I have the black one and mine’s fine. I got it on release day. I have a thin clear case for it and it still looks brand new.

  3. arsnjo

    12/18/2012 at 3:55 am

    waw col cccccccccccccooooooooooolllllllllllllllllllllllllllll

  4. arsnjo

    12/18/2012 at 3:57 am

    iphone 5 is cool bacuase you can do evry thigs on

    • Hanna

      04/07/2013 at 2:36 am

      Yet it fails to help your spelling.

      • Nora

        07/11/2013 at 6:17 pm

        Auto spelling is not everyone’s cup of tea, especially if English is not one’s everyday first language.

  5. Amall

    12/29/2012 at 7:07 am

    Um, your clearly telling us that the black iPhone 5 is worthless while the white iPhone 5 is a angel. I have the black one and it’s PERFECT! So I think your not a big help.

    • admin2

      04/14/2013 at 2:58 am

      and you’re a stuck up cow!

  6. Bellamy

    12/29/2012 at 8:04 pm

    The problem isn’t the color but like you said when you put a case on your phone especially a hard cover, dirt gets in between and causes deep scratches like that. You just can’t tell on the white one is all your saying.

  7. Justin

    12/30/2012 at 9:05 pm

    So maybe no case is a better option? I am VERY careful with my iPhone 4. Nothing else with it in my pocket and I never drop it. I wonder if I treat my 5 with as much care, would it fare better without a case. (Getting my 5 on Tuesday so I have to decide!)

  8. ale

    01/13/2013 at 8:07 am

    LOL both are amazing so…

  9. Khush Singh

    01/16/2013 at 10:20 pm

    huh white for Girls :p …..

  10. Karen

    01/17/2013 at 3:27 pm

    There are protectors for the back of iPhone…so just choose the color u like buy the protector

  11. CHAANI

    01/21/2013 at 10:51 pm

    I have got Black I5 and it looks more classy to me. I guess its all about personal preference. And as for the wear and tear, just take care of your phone and nothing will happen!

  12. Lee

    02/06/2013 at 7:50 am

    This is the first time I have opted for white, having had each one since 3GS in black, simply as the side’s were not silver as with the white iPhone 5, or the black and white iPhone 4/4s. Can’t understand why it was a solid black all the way round, looks cheap for me.

  13. Yasmine

    02/10/2013 at 2:05 am

    I really need help cos in getting the i5 but I want white but it gets dirty I think? But the black looks nicer! Help plz

  14. boom

    02/13/2013 at 1:41 pm

    my iphone 5 in white looks like its going yellow and i cracked mine so im selling it when i get it fixed and getting a black one because they dont get durty and u can see scratches on it because its too dark

  15. boom

    02/13/2013 at 1:42 pm

    cant see scratches on it

  16. Kourtney

    02/22/2013 at 5:29 pm

    Apple should have left the linings with silver aluminum on both like the 4S.. I don’t like the painted aluminum, but raw, minimalistic materials are more classy.. White border can be distracting when watching films, though

  17. Tony

    03/14/2013 at 7:09 am

    Maybe an easy solution to the black is to use a screen and body protection? Like the one from Powersupport or SGP.

  18. Jaylen2011

    03/30/2013 at 12:58 am

    This really helped

  19. steve

    03/30/2013 at 5:25 am

    well this is true i had black one for 3 month and looked after it and the paint still came off so i sold it and now have the white one loads better :)

  20. Suzy.

    03/31/2013 at 8:34 pm

    Ehm, seriously ? I’m a girl, and I have a black. I love the black one, because the black so class and not the white. The white is weird. Yes, before I wanted the white. But when the sister of my friend come with his new iphone 5 white, me and my mother and it was looked. And we really did not like. I love my iPhone 5 black, it’s so class for me. Hem girls, the iphone 5 black is not just for boys. Seriously, girls.. I’m a girl and I have one black, so.. (and is so nice<3)

  21. Suzy.

    03/31/2013 at 8:36 pm

    One tip, if you want to buy an iphone 5, buy black. If you want to buy Iphone 4 or Iphone 4s, buy the white iPhone. Anyway, I love my black iphone 5. <3

  22. Suzy.

    03/31/2013 at 8:38 pm

    iphone 4s white *

  23. Shail Kumar

    04/01/2013 at 2:30 am

    iphone 5 is the best phone so everyone who owns iphone 5 looks for elegant and protective cases.

    Check out one of the best designer iphone 5 cases. These cases are elegant and as well as protective.

  24. Nicole

    04/01/2013 at 11:30 am

    White is Gorgeous … i have it in white and its just a stunning device so stop hating on it :)

  25. Suzy.

    04/01/2013 at 6:05 pm

    And you.. Stop hating the black one. :)

  26. Antonlw

    04/04/2013 at 8:06 pm

    I have the white one, I decided on it because I had the black 4 and always wanted a white a one

  27. ErenDemir

    04/10/2013 at 12:02 pm

    haha still very hard to choose between a white/Black iPhone 5, I know it’s just a phone but being stuck with it for 2 Years is A big commitment

  28. John

    04/23/2013 at 6:24 am

    They both are very nice but I like the white because the black is too dark not attractive at all.

  29. chris

    05/05/2013 at 1:26 pm

    in this “case” (yes, pun intended), the case is the problem. Taking cases on and off a black iphone, and allowing particle matter to build up in between the phone and the case, causing a constant grading against the phone, lead to the problems this author describes. i agree, i would like to see the materials used be more durable but having said that i have had no problems with my black iphone 5 and have achieved this by doing a few simple things:

    1. do not use a case (see above). This phone looks the best without one anyway. not sure why you want to cover up such an amazingly designed device (that you pay top dollar for because you love the design) with a crapy, janky, cheesy, plastic case. ???? i dont get it. No case, unless it is the one made that completely covers the phone with another layer of shielding, is going to stop your phone from shattering. The phone shatters when it hits an uneven surface. I have seen tons of shattered iphones with ugly plastic cases that were supposed to protect them. Cases are a marketing gimmick to get you to spend more money.
    2. do not put it in your pocket with coins, keys or other shenanigans – this will eventually scratch your phone, or just about anything you put in your pocket.
    3. if you carry a bag or purse – make one of the pockets inside specific for your phone – so its not beating up against keys, pens, hairspray cans, bottle openerss – or whatever crap ends up in your bag.
    4. When you are going to your car, or getting out of your car – put your cell phone in your pocket, bag, etc. this is often when a phone takes a tumble onto the ground – your juggling 15 things in your hands, opening a door, grabbing your keys, grocery bag…etc. this is when you forget you are holding your phone. Unfortunately so does your hand – and boom – to the ground it goes.
    5. drop the extra 99$ for apple care – that way if it gets jacked up looking – you can get up to two more phones for the deductible of $49 within the 2 year period. By that time – you will be ready to upgrade to the latest and greatest.

    I have had both the white and the black 5. While they are both stunning, for me the black is stealth and sleek and therefore the one i have liked the most. It doesnt hurt that the screen blends into the back ground (no annoying bar) and in general all colors look better agains the black border. Depending upon the storage you have, you are carrying around a 400 to 1000 dollar device – treat it as such and you will be fine.

  30. MollyKGreenwood.

    05/28/2013 at 7:43 am

    me and my brother both have a iphone 5. mine is white and my brothers is black. both got them on the same day, both are treat the same but his looks far better than mine.

  31. Hahahahahahahahahahaha

    08/28/2013 at 11:31 pm

    My black iPhone 5 i have it for more that 11 months but still looks brand new :p

  32. tamiamisouth

    11/01/2013 at 11:18 am

    Thanks for the info, That confirms my decision to go with the silver. Once you go black, you can’t go back.

  33. drey

    04/01/2016 at 7:55 am

    black or white

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