Many people had been looking forward to a Space Black colorway for the Apple iPhone 7, and the device proved very popular during pre-orders.
However now that it has arrived, using the moniker Jet Black, it turns out it might not be a good idea to buy one. Plenty of buyers were excited about the new black finish, but those early adopters have since shown why the standard black colorway might be better. One of those is YouTube channel JerryRigEverything, which put the phone through a bend and scratch test.
On a positive note the new finish looks great. It also blends with the black display on the front to make an incredibly sleek-looking smartphone when the screen is off. Another positive is that it makes the rear antenna bands almost invisible.
The new iPhone 7 also got a lot of praise for its water resistance. Many users were compelled to read the fine print to see just what Apple believed the phone is capable of. However what they read revealed something about another issue.
“The high-gloss finish of the jet black iPhone 7 is achieved through a precision nine-step anodization and polishing process. Its surface is equally as hard as other anodized Apple products; however, its high shine may show fine micro-abrasions with use. If you are concerned about this, we suggest you use one of the many cases available to protect your iPhone,” reads the text.
This is Apple effectively telling owners of the jet black iPhone 7 to use a case. For those who don’t read the fine print, the JerryRigEverything video should be enough to convince you.
The susceptibility to scratching is demonstrated by the YouTuber, who claims that even wiping his jet black iPhone 7 with a shirt left some minor marks. This inspired him to do a bend test and a scratch test.
The results of the bend test were impressive, but the scratch test was dismal. Instead of cleaning your jet black iPhone 7 on your shirt, you’ll need to carry a microfiber cloth to avoid scratches. Keys and pocket change also turn into matters of concern on the jet black model, whereas they do not create any problems with matte finish iPhone 7s.
While this may seem like an oversight, the problem in fact lies with the metal that Apple has used for the jet black finish. The 7000 series aluminum is strong and light, but it is also soft and scratches easily.
Some would argue that it would have been better to make a high-gloss finish from pure silver or gold, but this would push the price through the roof. One reasonable alternative would be to use a metal such as steel, which can be polished.
The Apple Watch was also offered in a Space Black Stainless Steel colorway. Apple then tried to make an aluminum version, but it was criticized for being prone to scratching. The scratching issue is such that Apple feels compelled to mention the need for a case in the small print for the iPhone 7, so it is worth thinking about.
While no one is saying that the iPhone 7 is a bad phone, you are most likely better off buying a matte finish if you want to use your device without a protective case. The jet black finish is impressive both technically and visually, but it is more prone to scratching than other colors.
So far the jet black iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus have been the most popular among buyers. In fact demand has been so high that some buyers were at first told that they would have to wait until November to get their jet black iPhone 7 Plus.
If you have so far been frustrated in your attempts to buy a new Apple smartphone, there is a tool that can help you out. A website called iStockNow is able to scan Apple Stores around the world and tell you which retail locations have the phone you want in stock at that particular moment.
Demand for the iPhone 7 Plus was higher than for the standard model in the first 48 hours of sales. The jet black models were the hardest to come by, although that may change given concerns over scratch resistance.
If you are in the market for a new iPhone 7 or iPhone 7 Plus, you will have to weigh up whether you want to trade the pleasing aesthetics of the jet black version for its susceptibility to scratching.