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Key Takeaways

  • Apple is promoting the use of titanium in the iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max, but it can change color due to oxidation and exposure to elements like heat, water, and oil.
  • The oil from your skin, especially on your fingertips, can temporarily alter the color of the titanium band around the iPhone. Wiping it with a soft, damp cloth can restore the original look.
  • Apple advises using a soft, damp cloth to maintain the sheen of the titanium frame. They also offer a polishing cloth and suggest using cases to either showcase the color or cover it up.

Apple appears to be heavily invested in promoting the inclusion of titanium in the frame of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max. While its advantages are varied and many, titanium also presents many challenges as well - that includes issues with colouring from the manufacturing process all the way to daily use.

Now, the company is admitting (quietly) that you may see some changes in your new iPhone's colour that you might not be expecting.

Why does my iPhone 15 Pro change colour?

To be clear, you probably won't notice any changes to the colour of the glass-topped backplate of your phone - the filament laminated to that panel is not made of titanium. What we are talking about is the frame that rims around the chassis of the iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max.

You can see in these photos from tech blogger Andrew Clare on X/Twitter that putting your fingers on that titanium band may leave their marks in more ways than one.

So, what's up here?

Much like the Statue of Liberty and its bronze-turned-green copper coating, Titanium is prone to oxidation and colour change when exposed to the elements - primarily heat, but also with water and oil. While industrial treatments can mitigate the effects of oxidation, nothing can ever be completely watertight.

So it goes that 9to5Mac noticed this recent appendage to one of Apple's support pages detailing how you can keep your iPhone clean and shiny:

For iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max, the oil from your skin might temporarily alter the color of the outside band. Wiping your iPhone with a soft, slightly damp, lint-free cloth will restore the original look.

Yep, the oil secreted through the ducts of our skin to keep it healthy is the same oil that will turn your Natural Titanium look a bit off-colour. Your fingertips tend to collect the most oil since they're meant to come into contact with so many objects so often. Worse yet, heat and humidity can bring those lipid levels way up on the whole.

The help article also notes that iPhones (much like most any phone) feature an oleophobic coating that helps to keep oils from interacting with the base material underneath. That said, those coatings can wear away over time, especially when coming into contact with "cleaning products and abrasive materials."

This is Apple's first foray into titanium on an iPhone. If you're betting on whether the company did a good job with it, you may want to keep track of how discoloured the frames of after-market iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max units may (or may not) be.

How can I keep my iPhone 15 Pro from changing colour?

If you really do care that much about how those side rails on your iPhone look, there are a couple of steps you can take to maintain that sheen and stave off a dark patina.

Funnily enough, Apple's advice is good advice that's been given time and time again: use a soft, damp cloth and give that frame a gentle wipe every now and again.

The brand does offer its own polishing cloth which, if you can't tell, is compatible with pretty much any surface.

Apple Polishing Cloth
$17 $19 Save $2

Apple's logo is imprinted into this simply designed nonabrasive cloth for that touch of class you can't get from any other brand.

Alternatively, we at Pocket-lint do have a selection of cases to suggest for your iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 15 Pro Max that can either show off those bold, brooding hues or cover them up entirely.