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EXTREME Tech’s (capitalization the Macalope’s because EXTREME!) Sebastian Anthony poses the EXTREME-ly good question (see what the Macalope did there?): “Scuffgate: Will Apple have to recall the iPhone 5?”

Now, this may seem absurd. Ridiculous. Gut-bustingly laughable. But remember this is EXTREME Tech! And in EXTREME Tech, anything can happen!


If hundreds of consumer reports are to be believed, it seems that 30 to 40% of all iPhone 5s are arriving with scuff marks—damage to the sides and back of the case that range from minor abrasions, all the way through to nicks where the coating of the phone has been completely removed, exposing the aluminium chassis beneath.

If you’re wondering how “hundreds of consumers” can implicate 30 to 40 percent of more than two million iPhones sold—in other words if you understand basic math—hang on. We’ll get there.

Scuffgate doesn’t seem to be a localized issue: There have been lots of reports from the west coast of the US, of course, but users in Europe and Hong Kong are also reporting scuffed phones.

Holy crap! It’s like Outbreak! Only with scuffs on phones instead of a deadly disease!

So, you know, like 100 times worse!

Now, Anthony does know that all the phones pretty much come from the same place, right? That iPhones are not created at local, sustainable and organic factories? Because the Macalope really doesn’t get how he thinks that particular data point is relevant.

The damage isn’t being caused by overzealous Apple fans, desperate to get their sterilized tentacles on the new iPhone, either…

Apple fans have been called a lot of things before but never “obsessive-compulsive squid.” Well, maybe the Macalope hasn’t read everything by John Dvorak.

The scuffed iPhones are seemingly already damaged when they arrive, before anyone has had a chance to finger them aggressively.

Personally, the first thing the Macalope does with a new iPhone is put the entire thing in his mouth. That’s not weird. Well, not any weirder than “fingering it aggressively.”

But if you have an iPhone that’s scratched out of the box and that’s a problem for you, what should you do?

If you have a damaged iPhone 5, Apple Stores will apparently replace it.

Ooookay, so we’re left with the horror that the iPhone 5 will scratch over time like … well, the original iPhone and pretty much any other phone made by anyone other than Apple. Of course, those companies don’t get “-gates” because no one expects their phones to be “mint in box” condition after they’ve been out of the box for years.

When people complained about the scratches on the iPod nano, at least they were complaining about the scratches on the front that made the screen harder to view. Scratches on the back? Please try to get over yourselves.

But what about that “statistic” that 30 to 40 percent are arriving pre-scratched?

Over on MacRumors, 36% of 1,300 polled users reported that their phone was scuffed out of the box, and a further 10% had inadvertently damaged it within a few hours.

Yes, the MacRumors “poll” that Anthony cites is a web poll. So, you know, it’s statistically valid with a variance of plus or minus, oh, infinity.

Really, any way you look at it, your iPhone 5 will probably end up looking like a wreck after a few weeks of use.

A wreck. A shambles. A veritable dilapidation of a phone.

It’s perfectly likely the Macalope is babying his iPhone 5, but after more than a week of use with no case, it’s still in mint condition. Let us agree to say your mileage may vary.

If the MacRumors poll really is representative, though…

Well, hey, it could be in that “stopped clock” kind of way.

…if a full 45% of shipped iPhones are damaged, or easy to damage—then the problem is obviously endemic to the iPhone 5′s design and anodized chassis, and perhaps a full product recall is in order.

For scratches. On the back of the phone. In some cases. Depending on use. Sure.

And that’s when the aliens decided that Earthlings were simply too overprivileged and spoiled and rather than risk having them spread their contemptible whining throughout the galaxy they nuked the planet to a charred cinder and everyone lived happily ever after. The end.

[Editors’ Note: In addition to being a mythical beast, the Macalope is not an employee of Macworld. As a result, the Macalope is always free to criticize any media organization. Even ours.]

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