iPhone 15 Pro: Titanium Frame Sparks Fingerprint Fury

iPhone 15 Pro
Image: Apple

The iPhone 15 Pro-series has introduced a significant shift with its titanium-alloy frames and the inclusion of USB type-C. However, this innovation has raised concerns right from the hands-on preview stage. Users have reported that these new models seem to have acquired a problem – they attract fingerprints and grime to an extreme degree, causing them to lose their pristine appearance.

Apple proudly promotes the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max as its lightest and most robust handsets yet, thanks to their new frame type, which is constructed from a Mars Rover-equivalent "premium alloy." Despite this premium material, it appears that the new "thermo-mechanical" production process may not shield the devices from even superficial criticism.

The Fingerprint Issue

Renowned tech content creator, Andrew Clare, has expressed deep concern about the new brushed-metal-effect edges of the iPhone 15 Pro-series. He claims that they attract fingerprints to a "shockingly bad" degree. This observation has been echoed by Weibo contributor Lurenlu, who has even captured video footage illustrating the issue from a recent in-person iPhone demo event.

This fingerprint issue has been most noticeable in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max models in blue and natural titanium SKUs. However, few other tech contributors have publicly acknowledged the problem so far. Nevertheless, it is apparent that some new top-end iPhones display visible finger-marks of varying severity in their own hands-on content. Yet, it's essential to note that these incidents may be isolated and related to specific usage conditions, such as travel-weary influencers.

Are Titanium iPhones Prone to Blemishes?

The key question that arises is whether titanium iPhones are genuinely more susceptible to such blemishes, and if they are more challenging to keep clean compared to their stainless steel counterparts in the long term. To answer this, we need to dive deeper into the properties of titanium and the implications for daily use.

Understanding Titanium as a Material

Titanium is a remarkable material known for its exceptional strength-to-weight ratio, corrosion resistance, and premium appearance. It's often used in high-performance applications, such as aerospace and medical implants, due to its outstanding durability. This is why Apple's decision to use titanium in its iPhone frames was met with excitement.

However, despite its many advantages, titanium does have some characteristics that may explain the fingerprint magnet issue:

  • Surface Finish: Titanium surfaces can vary in texture, and certain finishes may be more prone to showing fingerprints and smudges. The brushed-metal-effect finish used on the iPhone 15 Pro-series may contribute to this issue.
  • Oil Attraction: Titanium has a natural affinity for oils and greases, which are commonly found on human skin. This can lead to a higher tendency for fingerprints to adhere to the surface.
  • Surface Tension: The surface tension of titanium can be different from other materials, affecting how liquids and particles interact with it. This could influence how easily fingerprints accumulate.

Comparing Titanium to Stainless Steel

To assess whether titanium iPhones are more challenging to maintain than their stainless steel counterparts, we must consider stainless steel's properties:

  • Resistance to Stains: Stainless steel is renowned for its resistance to staining and corrosion, making it a popular choice in environments where cleanliness and hygiene are crucial.
  • Surface Finish: Stainless steel can be finished in various ways, and some finishes are more forgiving when it comes to fingerprints and smudges.
  • Maintenance: Stainless steel is relatively easy to clean and restore to its original appearance using common household methods.

Apple's Response

As the discussion around the fingerprint issue gained momentum, Apple responded with a statement addressing the concerns. The tech giant emphasized that the iPhone 15 Pro-series' titanium-alloy frames are designed to offer both durability and a premium look. They acknowledged that while titanium surfaces may show fingerprints more prominently, this is a natural characteristic of the material.

Apple also provided guidelines on how to clean and maintain titanium iPhone frames to minimize the visibility of fingerprints. These guidelines include using a microfiber cloth and a mild cleaning solution to gently wipe the surface.

User Experience

It's essential to consider the real-world user experience when evaluating the impact of fingerprint attraction on the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max. While some users have reported concerns about fingerprints, others may not find it to be a significant issue.

Factors that can influence the user experience include individual sensitivity to aesthetics, usage patterns, and the importance placed on keeping the device spotless. Some users may opt for protective cases, which can mitigate fingerprint visibility, while others may embrace the natural patina that develops over time on titanium surfaces.


In conclusion, the iPhone 15 Pro-series' titanium frame does indeed appear to be more susceptible to attracting fingerprints compared to its stainless steel counterparts. This is primarily due to the characteristics of titanium as a material, including its surface finish and oil attraction properties.

However, whether this issue significantly impacts the user experience is subjective and varies from person to person. Apple's guidelines on cleaning and maintenance can help users minimize the visibility of fingerprints and maintain the device's premium appearance.

Ultimately, the choice between titanium and stainless steel comes down to individual preferences, with some users valuing the unique qualities of titanium, while others may prioritize a surface that is more forgiving of fingerprints.

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