Mossberg: Apple iPod nano scratches easily, get a case to protect it

“Based on my own experience of about a month with the product, and emails I’ve received from readers, I believe the tiny, thin iPod nano is much more prone to scratching than earlier iPods, even though they, too, picked up scratches,” Walter S. Mossberg writes for The Wall Street Journal. “If I were reviewing the nano today, I would still call it ‘the best combination of beauty and functionality of any music player I’ve tested,’ as I did in my review. But I would include a strong, prominent, warning that it scratches too easily in normal usage. This is a real downside to an otherwise excellent product.”

Mossberg writes, “Like the previous iPods I’ve owned, my nano has never been sheathed in a case. Like the others, I carry the nano — by itself — in my pants or jacket or shirt pockets; or loosely in a briefcase or carry-on travel bag, in a pocket containing no other hard objects. This is also how I carry my Treo smart phone, whose screen is free of scratches after much longer and harder use than the nano’s. My nano hasn’t been dropped or scraped. Yet it is badly scratched. My recommendation now is that nano owners must buy and use a case for the device. That’s a shame with a product as beautiful and sleek like this, because it ruins the look and feel of the thing and adds to the cost. But I don’t consider it optional.”

“Apple says it uses exactly the same clear coating on the nano as on some earlier iPods, and that its engineers have conducted tests that show the nano isn’t any more vulnerable to scratches than other current iPods. Apple also says it hasn’t had a large number of complaints about scratching on the nano. Company officials speculate that, because cases for the nano aren’t being sold in volume yet, early buyers who would normally protect an iPod with a case haven’t been able to do so with the nano. They also suggest that, because of its small size, some users may have carried it in places and ways that differ from how they carried larger iPods, and which increased the possibility of scratching,” Mossberg writes. “I believe Apple should include a strong, thin case with every nano, starting as soon as possible. And Apple should research some sort of tougher coating for future nano models.”

Full article which also has a bit about how ther’s no Windows equivalent that offers the capabilities of Apple’s iChat AVhere.

Advertisement: Apple iPod nano. 1,000 songs. Impossibly small. From $199. Free shipping.

Related articles:
Apple iPod nano wins battle with washing machine – October 03, 2005
invisibleSHIELD offers rugged, clear protection for Apple iPod nano and other iPod models – September 30, 2005
Apple iPods have always been far too scratchable, protective cases required to keep iPods pristine – September 30, 2005
Got some nano scratches? Restore your iPod nano to new condition with a $4 can of Brasso – September 29, 2005
Apple responds to iPod nano screen issues – September 27, 2005
Apple iPod nano takes a beating and keeps on beating – September 12, 2005


  1. i have a nano. and it is scratched. from a view of a foot it looks fine. but if you tilt it you can see a ton of scratches. i tried the brasso stuff that an earlier article on here suggested. didnt work. i dotn understand why it is scratching. i am as careful with it as a i would be witha newborn baby who plays music… i ordered a case but it is taking forever to get here. i am upset about the scratchs, but i dont lose sleep over it..
    that is all. those are my ramblings.

    o and thank you webbyswim. i am glad you have not drank the steve jobs koolaid mixed with love juice that everyone else has and can think steve jobs can do no wrong in this world… i heard he is related to jesus christ himself…????

  2. I am amazed that no one considers the fact that given it’s size it is going to be more susceptible to scratching. Why?….

    If you put a full size iPod in your pocket or even a mini, it is just not going to move around, but if you put a Nano in your pocket, it’s going to slip and slide around and consequently get some scratches.

    Apple’s this explains why although it is made from the same material it is more “likely” to get scratched.

    Just a thought.


    mw act, as in I wish I “act”tually had one!

    Again? More? Jeesh…

    Walt, I gather, never polishes his own shoes. Instead, he uses the shoe shine services of that guy in his building’s lobby frequently, I’m assuming.

    Wear and tear on a good pair of shoes only enhances their beauty and comfort. Eventually, the shoes will go.

    Any jarhead knows that even the barrel of his rifle will wear down with use. You know what he does when the grooves go smooth? He has sense enough to get a new rifle.

    Only in the worldly ways of the prima donna…

  4. I carry my PSP and nano in the same bag–new, the faces to both appear to be made of the same material.

    The nano is kept in a little pocket in the bag that normally would be for credit cards–not a lot of room to move around.

    The PSP is a big pocket that usually has in it keys, a 3G iPod or two, pens, a few coins, and whatever I’ve emptied from my pocket.

    The nano is covered in scratches. I don’t particularly care–it isn’t anything that effects the functionality, and even the screen scratches are there but they aren’t anything that interferes with me seeing the screen.

    The PSP, on the other hand, which has been treated much less well, bounced around, fallen a few times, etc., doesn’t have a scratch on the facing. Now, I have just the screen covered with a plastic sheet so that, of course, would not scratch–but the rest of the front plate, including the edges where most contact with foreign objects would occur–is not protected at all and has no scratches, even when I’ve walked around with my keys rubbing against it.

    And no one has touched the nano except me, while we had some young kids in the office a few days ago for hours so I let them use the PSP to keep them occupied.

    I think the nano is great, and convenient, and nifty as hell..however, I don’t care about its apperance so much. A company that markets heavily based on design and the looks of the product, however, has to expect that there will be considerable number of customers that do care about appearance.

    I don’t think Apple owes refunds to anyone or anything, but it ought, in the future, to use plastic with a surface at least as tough as the one Sony is using.

  5. Oh for peace sake!

    Mosberg is way off base on this very, very important issue!

    What a ‘tool’ for the M$/Sony/Dell triad.

    (just kidding, Walt rocks)
    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”raspberry” style=”border:0;” />

  6. MacGoog-

    zCover is shipping silicone cases now. Mine shipped last Thursday, I am waiting (didn’t want to pay extra for fast shipping).

    In the meantime, I am using the little bag that came with my 20GB iPod to carry the Nano in. I got a couple of small scratches, but was able to remove them using Brasso.

    Another hint – dirt is really abrasive – keep the Nano clean and you won’t get as many scratches. Make sure to clean it well before trying to polish it and make sure to use a clean microfiber cloth too. A dirty microfiber cloth will scratch if it has hard dirt particles on it.

  7. MacGoog: Invisible Shield is also shipping their adhesive film thing. I have it on one of my black nanos now. Works great and only slightly detracts from the nano’s appearance.

    And I think jeff is right: because of its size it is more susceptible to movement scratching, though OpJ makes a good point. Still, I wish I knew where Walt got his Treo. Mine gets scratched constantly.

  8. This really is a lot bigger problem for Apple than many people realize.

    The material being used IS NOT the same as other iPOD models. These things scratch like cheap dime store sunglasses! Not at all what you would expect from an Apple product.

    The apologists need to make an effort to investigate the issue first hand and with physical inspection of two iPODs of identical age and normal use.

    An Apple retail store would be a good place to start. Go have a look at the Nanos on display. Now go look at the Mini and other iPOD models on display. See a difference? ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”LOL” style=”border:0;” />

    Glad to see that some people in the press are FINALLY starting to report on this. I saw the problem on day 2 at my Apple store and walked out with a new Silver 6G Mini instead!

    What is happening is exactly what I thought would happen, and I know personally, I could never hang with something that is so easily damaged with normal every day use.

  9. :rolleyes:,
    Apple has officially, repeatedly stated the front surface material of the iPod nano is the same as that on the full size iPods. These statements were not a one time thing said by some new engineer or secretary. They were in official statements by the company. Apple is legally bound by these statements. If this is false, as you claim, then Apple is open to class action lawsuits because of it. Apple has done many stupid things over the last three decades but nothing as stupid as to repeatedly invite a class action lawsuit.

    Most people (there are notable exceptions, even on these boards) are not blanketly stating that the iPod nano barely or rarely scratches. Nor are they saying the iPod nano is a perfect product from a perfect company.

    You go on to state, “Glad to see that some people in the press are FINALLY starting to report on this.” What “FINALLY”? There have been articles in both the mainstream press and the ‘net press about the scratches issue with the iPod nano.

    The iPod nano scratches too easily for you? OK. You got the 6 GB iPod mini. That suits your lifestyle. Congratulations.

    Just don’t go on about how people are not recognizing that iPod nanos scratch more than many people think they should. That is just not accurate.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.