There’s no question that smartphones in general have come a long way in recent years. Performance across the board is smoother than ever, and build quality is miles beyond where it was even a few short years ago. Samsung is a perfect example of a company that really did a 180 when it comes to build quality. As recently as four years ago, the company’s flagship phones looked and felt like cheap Fisher-Price toys. Now they’re among the most stunning smartphones on the planet, made entirely out of aluminum and glass. Of course when it comes to design and build quality, there’s still nothing like an iPhone.
The iPhone X is the most recent example of Apple’s lead when it comes to design, fit, and finish. It’s also perhaps the best showcase of just how far ahead of the pack Apple truly is. It’s the only widely available flagship phone without a chin bezel thanks to Apple’s brilliant engineering, and it has a look and feel that you simply won’t find anywhere else. A big part of that is thanks to the fact that Apple uses stainless steel on the iPhone X instead of aluminum, but the move is about more than just the look and feel of the phone. In fact, the use of stainless steel on Apple’s iPhone X is actually one of the best things about the phone’s design, and most people don’t even realize why.
So, other than the fact that stainless steel is much stronger and more high-end than the aluminum used on other smartphones, what’s the big deal? A thread from the iPhone subreddit started by Reddit user “brettka7” is the most recent reminder. In a nutshell, every phone sees wear and tear as you use it, but the inevitable scratching, swirling, scrapes, and dings that find their way to most smartphones are permanent. With the polished stainless steel on the iPhone X, however, it couldn’t be easier to make it look brand new again.
This particular Reddit user dropped his iPhone X onto pavement “so hard that I dinged all four corners and scratched the entire right side.” He says the stainless steel was scratched up and even pitted in some areas. It was so bad that he planned to return the phone to Apple and pay the $99 to get a replacement with AppleCare+. Before he headed out to the Apple store though, he decided to try something. Here’s what his iPhone X looks like now:
That’s right, it looks brand new. What wizardry is this? It’s actually not magic at all. It’s steel.
Apple’s silver iPhone X has polished stainless steel all the way around the edges of the phone. It’s not aluminum and it’s not coated, it’s just polished stainless steel like you would find on a wristwatch. Since the finish is actual steel and not some coating, it can be restored to its original luster simply by polishing and sanding it. “Brettka7” says he used 2,000 grit sandpaper to sand it down, and then Autosol Stainless Steel Polish for about 20 minutes to restore the finish.
“I’ve found the best way to polish the stainless steel bezel without marring is to apply a quarter of a pea size drop to a cotton pad, use another cotton pad to really smush it into the pad, and then take about 20 minutes to polish the corners first and then the sides,” he wrote in his thread. Of course, there is one caveat: This will obviously only work on the silver iPhone X since the space gray model has a coating over the steel.