When Apple VP Phil Schiller took the stage on September 12th to talk about the company’s new iPhone 5 hardware he went on at length about the exacting level of precision that goes into its manufacture. But despite Apple's insistence that its tolerances are measured in microns, several iPhone 5 owners are reporting that their new devices are arriving with a variety of scuffs and scrapes out of the box (myself included, pictured above).
The anodized aluminum seems to scratch more easily than the stainless steel in the 4S
The company’s record-breaking sales numbers certainly don’t make it easy to guess at how widespread the issue is, but an informal poll in the MacRumors forums indicates that out of some 1260 respondents, more than a third are reporting some kind of damage. The source of the scuffs (pictured below) is anyone’s guess, but as All Things D points out, the iPhone 5’s case is made out of anodized (i.e., coated) aluminum, which, while being lighter than the stainless steel used in the iPhone 4 and 4S, is also softer and appears to be more susceptible to scratching. It's worth noting that HTC used a comparable oxidized finish for its One S handset — a phone whose users reported having similar cosmetic issues.
So far, Apple hasn't commented on the issue, but if you’re one of the unlucky buyers stuck with a scratched phone (and you’re not into the whole "worn in" look), it may be worth taking your device in to a local Apple Store and asking for an exchange. And if you haven't yet picked yours up, we'd suggest giving it a thorough look-over in the store before heading home with your new phone.