Against the Jet-Black iPhone

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Grime magnet.Photo: Apple

Today, Apple announced that it will offer the new iPhone 7 in two different shades of black: black and jet black. Jet black is a glossy finish that is theoretically supposed to look cool and fancy. In reality, glossy finishes are inferior to matte finishes (which are sported by the regular black iPhone as well as all of the other colors on offer) in every way. Glossy finishes attract fingerprints and smears that never really go away. They are a reminder that your hands are dirty and gross and that your phone is covered in particles of dubious origin. Have you ever seen a phone so covered in grime that you can draw “wash me” on it like an old car? That’s glossy finish.

Glossy finishes also scratch super easily (the screen is made of scratch-resistant Gorilla Glass, but the same can’t be said for the rest of the phone). If you want to protect it, you have to put it in a case … which covers the glossy finish. (Apple has explicitly stated that jet black will scratch easily and recommends using a case.) It makes no sense. With a matte finish, I can slide my phone across the table to a friend without worrying that it’ll come back bumpy and ragged. It doesn’t attract a gross coating of scratches and hand scum that gloss does.

Glossy finishes put our mistakes on full display. Every knick on a glossy finish is a mark of clumsiness, every smear a mark of poor hygiene and oily skin. Matte finishes, on the other hand, let us live in a fantasy, one in which we are as flawless and unblemished as our phones.