iPhone 7 in jet black is beautiful — but you shouldn't buy it

Source: AP
Source: AP
review
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Apple unveiled two new colors at the iPhone 7 event Wednesday: glossy jet black and regular black in a matte finish, in addition to the standard gold, rose gold and silver. (Alas, the gunmetal-colored space gray is no more.)

Jet black
Source: 
Stephen Lam/Getty Images

Apple knows its jet black looks irresistible in photos. It's sleek, polished and looks like it emerged from a waterfall, tumbled into smooth perfection by ancient oceans (and it's water-resistant, too).

Phil Schiller introduces the iPhone 7 Plus
Source: 
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

But here's the thing about that gorgeous finish: It. Does. Not. Age. Well. The jet black scratches like raw clay and retains smudgy fingerprints like a piece of glass. How do we know? Apple's iPhone 7 page issues a warning, in fine print, at the very bottom:

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.

"Fine micro-abrasions" doesn't sound that bad. But what do these scratches look like in person? The Verge's Ashley Carman spotted a demo phone at the Apple event and noticed immediate wear and tear. Even worse, the phone looks cheap in real life. Despite the "nine-step anodization and polishing process," it still has the look of shiny plastic, like the outer case of a television.

It's telling when Apple says straight-up that you should get a case for this phone. If you often drop your iPhone — and that's not your fault; carrying the naked iPhone 6 sometimes feels like holding onto a live trout — the jet black will be a disaster. 

The iPhone 7 in jet black. Some wear and tear is visible.
Source: 
Marques Brownlee/YouTube

"The jet black is a piano super-glossy finish that I don't think I can seriously recommend to anyone," says Marques Brownlee in his initial iPhone 7 video review. "It looks good while you keep it clean, but ... it's probably going to be the slipperiest iPhone of all time." 

Source: YouTube

The Verge, however, reports the jet black is "surprisingly grippy." That makes sense, considering the iPhone 4's equally glossy body actually turned your fingerprints and face grease into a friction-y patina.

After handling both, Brownlee recommends the iPhone 7 in the matte-black finish. "I'm gonna be grabbing that matte black," he says. "Something about the stealth look just speaks to me." The regular black apparently hides scratches a lot better, so if you care about keeping your device looking brand-spanking-new, there's only one choice.

The iPhone 7 Plus in regular black
Source: 
Marques Brownlee/YouTube

Or, you know, just get the rose gold.

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Cooper Fleishman

Cooper is Mic's tech editorial director. He was previously New York bureau chief at the Daily Dot.

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