Here’s how the jet black iPhone’s ‘fine micro-abrasions’ look after almost a year

It’s almost time for the iPhone 8 (and/or iPhone Edition) which means it’s been nearly one year since the jet black iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus shipped. When Apple introduced the glossy black finish, it warned customers that jet black is prone to ‘fine micro-abrasions’ and recommended using a case. I prefer using my iPhone caseless (and jet black is satisfyingly grippy) so I put Apple’s challenge to the test at the risk of losing any resale value. 

This is the full explainer Apple offers with the jet black color:

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.

Just as Apple warns, it didn’t take long for the first signs of fine micro-abrasions to appear. I was comically careful with my iPhone 7 Plus for the first few days and avoided laying the back side down on any surface. The tiny nicks started showing up along the edges anyway after a few days so I stopped handling my iPhone 7 Plus with such care.

Almost a year later, the fine micro-abrasions have been joined by more noticeable surface scratches that you can feel under your fingernail. The glossy jet black finish still looks nice and shiny at a glance, but close inspection would probably be off-putting to potential buyers.

While the blemishes don’t really bother me, I do dislike how the jet black iPhone feels and looks dirty from fingerprints after use, although the fingerprints do mask the abrasions.

The premium look of jet black is something I needed to try at least once (and without a case), but I’d opt for the matte finish simply called ‘black’ if I were picking from the same color choices again.

All three new iPhones (4.7-inch LCD, 5.5-inch LCD, and 5.8-inch OLED) are expected to feature glass backs this year, however, which could offer a glossy finish with the same resistance to scratches as the front glass. Aside from the premium feel (remember the iPhone 4?), this will bring the glossy finish to more colors than just black (with one caveat: gold and rose gold likely replaced by a single coppery gold).

Glass may not scratch as easily as the polished aluminum back, but it certainly will shatter (again, remember the iPhone 4?) so here’s to hoping Apple makes a minimal protective case in the style of the Bumper that doesn’t hide the design.

Apple could keep jet black as an option if the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus stay in the lineup at a reduced cost, but I would guess the option goes away. We’ll find out in less than a week at Apple’s September 12 event.