If you were thinking of splashing out on Apple’s new iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max, you might want to think about grabbing a case.
The tech giant has admitted the new titanium frame can temporarily change colour without protection.
While the hotly anticipated phones have only been released for a matter of days, reports have already circulated online that simply holding them can cause the metal case to change colour – suggestions which Apple has now officially confirmed.
Social media users have shared pictures of the new phones, showing significant discolouration, with the metal sidebands picking up fingerprints and oils from the users’ hands.
One frustrated user tweeted that the colour distortion issues were ‘kinda wild considering the price of this tech’, while another said they would ‘probably get the 15 pro buying a iPhone for the first time’ but were ‘afraid of that frame’ becoming discoloured.
If you were thinking of splashing out on Apple’s new iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max, you might want to think about grabbing a case. The tech giant has admitted the new titanium frame can temporarily change colour without protection
In a support document released for the new iPhone 15 range, Apple said that ‘for iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, the oil from your skin might temporarily alter the color of the outside band.’
The reason for this problem is that, unlike the cheaper iPhone 15 and 15 Plus, the more expensive Pro range uses lightweight titanium rather than stainless steel.
While this material promises to be ultra-strong and super light, the metal can be discoloured through routine handling.
Titanium has the interesting ability to show ‘interference colours’ which can make the surface look like a rainbow when heated.
Through a process called anodizing, the surface of the titanium reacts with the air and produces very thin layers of oxides which scatter the light and give the metal incredible coloured finishes.
However, when you touch a piece of titanium with bare hands, thin layers of oil from your fingers stick to the surface and cause the same effect to occur, scattering the light into an unsightly oil-slick rainbow.
According to Associate Professor Walter Navarrini of the Polytechnic University of Milan, one of the major drawbacks of using titanium is the ‘chromatic alteration that greasy traces of oily substances cause on the surface’.
Social media users have shared pictures of the new phones, showing significant discolouration, with the metal sidebands picking up fingerprints and oils from the users’ hands
‘The fingerprints look shockingly bad,’ one user wrote alongside two photos of the discoloured phones
iPhone 15 Pro pricing
iPhone 15 Pro
- 128GB – £999
- 256GB – £1,099
- 512GB – £1,299
- 1TB – £1,499
iPhone 15 Pro Max
- 256GB – £1,199
- 512GB – £1,399
- 1TB – £1,599
However, if you’ve already shelled out for the fancier model, there’s no need to panic since the metal isn’t permanently discoloured.
As Apple says, wiping the frame with ‘a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth’ will restore the phone’s original look by removing the oils causing the problem.
Making titanium stay clean is a problem that Apple has been grappling with for several years.
As early as 2021 the company obtained patents for specialist treatments of titanium alloys in preparation for making new finishes for the iPhone, MacBook, iWatch, and iPad.
Earlier this year Apple also filed patents for a fingerprint hiding oxide coating, meant to reduce the unsightly appearance of oily marks on the new products.
Yet the problem is clearly far from fixed as Apple’s earlier titanium product, the Apple Watch Ultra, also experienced discolouration problems.
Despite these problems the titanium frame does offer significant advantages in terms of weight reduction.
The 5.8-inch iPhone 15 Pro weighs only 187 grams, a full 9% lighter than last year’s 206g iPhone 14 Pro of a similar size.
The iPhone 15 Pro Max meanwhile weighs in almost 20g lighter than its previous iteration, the iPhone 14 Pro Max, while also being slightly thicker.
Coming in at £999 – £1,499 for the iPhone 15 Pro and up to £1,599 for the Pro Max, Apple’s latest offerings certainly have a price to match their high-tech construction.
The newer models also boast a handful of other significant upgrades including a more advanced camera, faster screen refresh, and a more powerful chip.
In another big change Apple’s latest products have also done away with the familiar lightning charger cable in favour of a USB-C port after facing pressure from the EU to make the swap.