How Apple achieves the high-gloss 'jet black' color on the iPhone 7 & 7 Plus

Posted:
in iPhone
Apple made something of a fuss about the iPhone 7's new "jet black" color during this week's press event in San Francisco, going into depth about the nine-step process needed to achieve that look. Here's how it's accomplished.




Perhaps the most unique part of the process is actually the first, something Apple designer Jony Ive referred to as "rotational 3D polishing."

A machine drags the aluminum housing through a specialized powder, which buffs out imperfections and helps to produce a mirror-like effect. Typically in the industry, such housing would be buffed using a chemical wash or electrochemical method instead.

The housing is then dipped into an anodization tank, where electricity jolts the surface of the aluminum into aluminum oxide, making it more corrosion-resistant.




The surface is made porous so it can absorb the black dye, which Ive described as a "single-component" material "absorbed through a capillary effect to ensure maximum saturation." This apparently explains how Apple manages to achieve such a dark shade of black.




In the last step, the housing is spun through a bath of magnetized "ultra-fine" iron particles, used to polish the anodized layer for extra sheen. Apple in fact warns that this layer is more prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished.




Preorders for the iPhone 7 are already underway, in advance of a Sept. 16 launch date. The jet black glossy finish is limited to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus capacities of 128 and 256 gigabytes.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 32
    jfc1138jfc1138 Posts: 3,090member
    Maybe next year. Black for me this round. 
  • Reply 2 of 32
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    LOL. They spend all of this time and energy creating this gorgeous shell...and then recommend people cover it. This is in the same vein of phones that are getting so thin that you need a case just to be able to pick them up.

    Irony: It's what's for dinner.

    bdkennedy1002spacerayszoetmb
  • Reply 3 of 32
    sog35 said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    Apple is simply protecting themself from stupid law suits.

    Instead of trying to protect themselves from lawsuits by warning of a problem they know people will have, perhaps they would better serve their customers by sticking with more durable finishes.  It seems Apple is so enthralled by their own cleverness that they can't give up a flawed finish.  Why should anyone care how complicated it was to make the phone really shiny? And then advise us to hide the shine?
    spacerayszoetmb
  • Reply 4 of 32
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,034member
    williamh said:
    sog35 said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    Apple is simply protecting themself from stupid law suits.

    Instead of trying to protect themselves from lawsuits by warning of a problem they know people will have, perhaps they would better serve their customers by sticking with more durable finishes.  It seems Apple is so enthralled by their own cleverness that they can't give up a flawed finish.  Why should anyone care how complicated it was to make the phone really shiny? And then advise us to hide the shine?
    Because there're idiots out there who will complain or sue Apple no matter what. Without a warning , there will be ScratchGate. With warning, still complain. In fact, there's no fucking glossy black material that doesn't show scratches. Use your phone with care. "It's a fucking expensive super computer " (said John Legere), not a toddler's toy!
    edited September 2016 TurboPGTuraharatycho24tgr1nolamacguySoliwilliamlondonrepressthisfastasleepapplepieguy
  • Reply 5 of 32
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,541member
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    LOL. They spend all of this time and energy creating this gorgeous shell...and then recommend people cover it. This is in the same vein of phones that are getting so thin that you need a case just to be able to pick them up.

    Irony: It's what's for dinner.

    Serious question.  What do you recommend as a better course of action?  Try to think of this from Apple's perspective, or just any business, not the perspective of someone simply looks to criticize.

    1) Not produce such a finish in the first place?  
    - Consider though that reviewers who had access to the iPhone 7 on Sept. 7th said this was the best looking model.
    - Apple gets more than its fair share of criticism that its devices are lacking "dazzle" or "wow factor".  One way to do that is to have a really great looking finish.
    - Lots of positive press for Samsung with the Edge, even though it makes the device more fragile and has no (real) benefits.  But it is "cool"

    2) Not recommend a case for those that want to maintain a pristine look for the phone.  Wouldn't the complaint then be that Apple wasn't being honest?

    3) Make a jet black material with a magic quality that is impervious to any scratches?
    TurboPGTuraharatycho24Stwertwelshdogtgr1nolamacguywaverboySolipk22901
  • Reply 6 of 32
    brucemcbrucemc Posts: 1,541member

    williamh said:
    sog35 said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    Apple is simply protecting themself from stupid law suits.

    Instead of trying to protect themselves from lawsuits by warning of a problem they know people will have, perhaps they would better serve their customers by sticking with more durable finishes.  It seems Apple is so enthralled by their own cleverness that they can't give up a flawed finish.  Why should anyone care how complicated it was to make the phone really shiny? And then advise us to hide the shine?
    They have 4 other colours/finishes.  No one is forced to buy this model.  Apple is being upfront about the potential for scratches and so a case can reduce the risk.  You are not forced to read this article and feel bothered by it.
    TurboPGTtycho24tgr1nolamacguySoliwilliamlondonmejsricrepressthisfastasleepapplepieguy
  • Reply 7 of 32
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    sog35 said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    LOL. They spend all of this time and energy creating this gorgeous shell...and then recommend people cover it. This is in the same vein of phones that are getting so thin that you need a case just to be able to pick them up.

    Irony: It's what's for dinner.

    Apple is simply protecting themself from stupid law suits.

    Anyone with half a brain knows that ANY SURFACE that is glossy black will accumulate micro scratches.

    It isn't that shiny black surfaces are more prone to scratches. Its that shiny black surfaces show scratches easier. A silver/gold surface won't refract as much light so the scratches are easier to see.

    Anyone with a black car knows this 
    Read that as black cat for a nano second lol.  Excellent point.  Personally I never use cases on my iPhones, they are just so nice to both look at and hold, same with my iPadAir unless I'me traveling..  I've never had any bad marks on mine to date and they live in my jeans' or shorts' pockets (the iPhones not the iPads lol).
  • Reply 8 of 32
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,383member
    I can just imagine they are printing this 'recipe' out at Scamsung HQ and getting to work on a copy at this very moment.
    tycho24nolamacguyhomieai46williamlondonrepressthisapplepieguy
  • Reply 9 of 32
    I'm just going to get a nice, thin clear case. But, a few scratches or whatever don't really bother me anyway. It's not like I looked at the Jet Black finish and thought, "man, that's gotta be scratchproof for sure". The comparison to the black car was probably the best analogy.
    nolamacguytnet-primaryapplepieguy
  • Reply 10 of 32
    I will enjoy it, with no case, scratches and all, because it is definitely the best looking iPhone produced to date. Even with scratches, it will look amazing.

    Kind of like every black car ever made. Kinda like every Piano ever made.
    nolamacguySoliwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 32
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    sog35 said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    LOL. They spend all of this time and energy creating this gorgeous shell...and then recommend people cover it. This is in the same vein of phones that are getting so thin that you need a case just to be able to pick them up.

    Irony: It's what's for dinner.

    Apple is simply protecting themself from stupid law suits.

    Anyone with half a brain knows that ANY SURFACE that is glossy black will accumulate micro scratches.

    It isn't that shiny black surfaces are more prone to scratches. Its that shiny black surfaces show scratches easier. A silver/gold surface won't refract as much light so the scratches are easier to see.

    Anyone with a black car knows this 
    Anyone with a black Rado ceramic knows that there are exceptions to generalisations.

    Also, there is a limited edition One Plus phone made from ceramic (zirconia).  You would have a tough time scratching that:




    edited September 2016 spacerayscrowley
  • Reply 12 of 32
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,546member
    Nothing new. My black color car has same scratch issue. I can't put case/cover on my car but I can on iphone..But, jet black definitely looks awesome like iphone 4 black.
    edited September 2016 williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    sog35 said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    LOL. They spend all of this time and energy creating this gorgeous shell...and then recommend people cover it. This is in the same vein of phones that are getting so thin that you need a case just to be able to pick them up.

    Irony: It's what's for dinner.

    Apple is simply protecting themself from stupid law suits.

    Anyone with half a brain knows that ANY SURFACE that is glossy black will accumulate micro scratches.

    It isn't that shiny black surfaces are more prone to scratches. Its that shiny black surfaces show scratches easier. A silver/gold surface won't refract as much light so the scratches are easier to see.

    Anyone with a black car knows this 


    exactly, but you can not fix stupid and we have plenty of stupid in the wild.

    Back in the day, if you order an Black car, car companies use to hand pick all the car panels to make sure they were perfect since any imperfection in the panel would show up when painted black.

    I always a amaze with people who buy a black cars and are surprise when it looks like crap after a year of driving it under normal condition.

    repressthisapplepieguy
  • Reply 14 of 32
    maestro64maestro64 Posts: 5,005member
    sog35 said:
    williamh said:
    sog35 said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    Apple is simply protecting themself from stupid law suits.

    Instead of trying to protect themselves from lawsuits by warning of a problem they know people will have, perhaps they would better serve their customers by sticking with more durable finishes.  It seems Apple is so enthralled by their own cleverness that they can't give up a flawed finish.  Why should anyone care how complicated it was to make the phone really shiny? And then advise us to hide the shine?
    Thats dumb.

    That's like expecting car companies not to sell Black cars. 

    In fact all Shiny Black surfaces are prone to micro scratches. So you want all manufacters to stop producing black items? No more black speaker, cars, TV's, Watches..........

    Its pure stupidity.

    I've owned a Black car in the past and it was SLICK when it was clean and polished. Sure it would show microscratches more than a Silver car but it still LOOK 100% nicer.


    Lets be clear here, all surfaces are subject to scratch color makes no difference, there is no such things a more durable finish unless you are talking about a Diamond. The issue is this, Black surfaces no mater what the coloring material is or the material of the surface is made of will show scratch faster and more visible than any other color. It is visual issue and optical principle not that black scratch easier.

    BTW, Apple is anodizing the aluminum, which is aluminum oxide which is nearly as hard as diamonds and it still subject to be scratch. 

    repressthisfastasleepapplepieguy
  • Reply 15 of 32
    thedbathedba Posts: 652member
    Coming soon to a YouTube screen near you. 
    Some bozo rubs sandpaper to the back of iPhone jet black to show how easily it scratches. 
    nolamacguywaverboyRayz2016repressthisfastasleepapplepieguywatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 32
    Actually Apple is just saying if you are a prissy B1tch you should put a cover on this to avoid scratching. They are not saying to just buy a case. Most people that appreciate the product and are have reasonable expectations will not put a cover on it.
    williamlondonfastasleepwatto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 32
    Samsung will have a new phone in 3 months and call their color "Rocket Black."
    Solisricewatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 32
    cnocbuicnocbui Posts: 3,613member
    sog35 said:
    cnocbui said:
    sog35 said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    LOL. They spend all of this time and energy creating this gorgeous shell...and then recommend people cover it. This is in the same vein of phones that are getting so thin that you need a case just to be able to pick them up.

    Irony: It's what's for dinner.

    Apple is simply protecting themself from stupid law suits.

    Anyone with half a brain knows that ANY SURFACE that is glossy black will accumulate micro scratches.

    It isn't that shiny black surfaces are more prone to scratches. Its that shiny black surfaces show scratches easier. A silver/gold surface won't refract as much light so the scratches are easier to see.

    Anyone with a black car knows this 
    Anyone with a black Rado ceramic knows that there are exceptions to generalisations.

    Also, there is a limmited edition One Plus phone made from Ceramic.  You would have  tough time scratching that:




    Nope Rado watches scratch also.

    http://www.thewatchforum.co.uk/index.php?/topic/34027-my-rado-is-scratches/

    And Rado ceramic looks no where near as cool as Jet Black iPhone


    From the link you quoted:

    Both my girlfriend and brother own Rado watches and both of their pieces are immaculate and my brother does all sort of tasks whilst wearing his.



  • Reply 19 of 32
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,586member
    brucemc said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    LOL. They spend all of this time and energy creating this gorgeous shell...and then recommend people cover it. This is in the same vein of phones that are getting so thin that you need a case just to be able to pick them up.

    Irony: It's what's for dinner.

    Serious question.  What do you recommend as a better course of action?  Try to think of this from Apple's perspective, or just any business, not the perspective of someone simply looks to criticize.

    1) Not produce such a finish in the first place?  
    - Consider though that reviewers who had access to the iPhone 7 on Sept. 7th said this was the best looking model.
    - Apple gets more than its fair share of criticism that its devices are lacking "dazzle" or "wow factor".  One way to do that is to have a really great looking finish.
    - Lots of positive press for Samsung with the Edge, even though it makes the device more fragile and has no (real) benefits.  But it is "cool"

    2) Not recommend a case for those that want to maintain a pristine look for the phone.  Wouldn't the complaint then be that Apple wasn't being honest?

    3) Make a jet black material with a magic quality that is impervious to any scratches?
    Rather any one specific issue, I think the broader and bigger issue is that Apple is obsessed with form over function, but in the real world, one has to cover up that form anyway, so what is really the point?   Instead of being obsessed with thinness, I would much rather have a slightly thicker phone with much longer battery life.   Or better audio (although the new phones claim to improve it).    They're obviously obsessed with this 'magical' process to create this black gloss and it is quite impressive, but then you have to cover it up to protect it.   So again, what's the point?  Just so they can make an impressive TV commercial with Jony doing the voice over?   

    I can't tell you the number of times I've seen someone using an iPhone without a case and I thought, "oh that new iPhone looks really nice" and then realized later that they had the exact model I have, but mine is in a case so I never really get to see the beautiful and thin design, except on the few occasions when I take it out of the case to clean out all the dust particles that accumulate.  

    The MacBook they released with just that one USB-C port is another example of form over function.   I imagine Jony getting all excited that the rest of the case isn't broken up by ports and that he made this rose gold color, but does anyone there actually use these machines in the real world for real work?     If they pull that crap with the next MacBook Pro, I will no longer be an Apple customer and I've been one for almost 40 years.  
  • Reply 20 of 32
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,432member
    zoetmb said:
    brucemc said:
    designr said:
    "Apple in fact warns that this layer ismore prone to showing scratching and scuffing, and hence people should use a case if they want to keep a device untarnished."

    LOL. They spend all of this time and energy creating this gorgeous shell...and then recommend people cover it. This is in the same vein of phones that are getting so thin that you need a case just to be able to pick them up.

    Irony: It's what's for dinner.

    Serious question.  What do you recommend as a better course of action?  Try to think of this from Apple's perspective, or just any business, not the perspective of someone simply looks to criticize.

    1) Not produce such a finish in the first place?  
    - Consider though that reviewers who had access to the iPhone 7 on Sept. 7th said this was the best looking model.
    - Apple gets more than its fair share of criticism that its devices are lacking "dazzle" or "wow factor".  One way to do that is to have a really great looking finish.
    - Lots of positive press for Samsung with the Edge, even though it makes the device more fragile and has no (real) benefits.  But it is "cool"

    2) Not recommend a case for those that want to maintain a pristine look for the phone.  Wouldn't the complaint then be that Apple wasn't being honest?

    3) Make a jet black material with a magic quality that is impervious to any scratches?
    Rather any one specific issue, I think the broader and bigger issue is that Apple is obsessed with form over function, but in the real world, one has to cover up that form anyway, so what is really the point?   Instead of being obsessed with thinness, I would much rather have a slightly thicker phone with much longer battery life.   Or better audio (although the new phones claim to improve it).    They're obviously obsessed with this 'magical' process to create this black gloss and it is quite impressive, but then you have to cover it up to protect it.   So again, what's the point?  Just so they can make an impressive TV commercial with Jony doing the voice over?   

    I can't tell you the number of times I've seen someone using an iPhone without a case and I thought, "oh that new iPhone looks really nice" and then realized later that they had the exact model I have, but mine is in a case so I never really get to see the beautiful and thin design, except on the few occasions when I take it out of the case to clean out all the dust particles that accumulate.  

    The MacBook they released with just that one USB-C port is another example of form over function.   I imagine Jony getting all excited that the rest of the case isn't broken up by ports and that he made this rose gold color, but does anyone there actually use these machines in the real world for real work?     If they pull that crap with the next MacBook Pro, I will no longer be an Apple customer and I've been one for almost 40 years.  
    So, what's the value in two years of a scratched and beaten iPhone 7 versus and unmarred one? It's just a depreciation that you either absorb or not. I treat mine like that tool it is, and have learned to put aside worries about the exterior. I stopped using a cover because I get grit in between the cover and the iPhones which scratches it anyway, so really, I'm only concerned with dropping it on rough surface that tends to have higher impact loads than smooth surfaces; asphalt vs ceramic tile if you will. Other buyers might find that they don't have problems with a Jet Black finish without a cover. Your mileage varies; you're more interested in maintaining the finish so you need to use a cover; maybe Jet Black shouldn't be your choice.

    As for the Mac Book, it's primary market is for people that want light and thin, have need of few connected USB devices, and rely primarily on wireless. They adapt to the single USB Type C Port if they must. You, on the other hand, would likely benefit from a Mac Book Pro which I speculate will have in the next iteration, at least two USB Type C ports.
    ai46williamlondonfastasleep
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