The matte glass finish on the iPhone 11 Pro might be a bad design choice. Here's why

The matte glass finish on the iPhone 11 Pro might be a bad design choice. Here's why
How would you describe the new iPhone 11 Pro in one word? Exciting? Extravagant? Expensive, perhaps? In any case, I doubt that "slippery" is a word on your mind right now. 

With so many upgrades brought by the iPhone 11 Pro – the better screen, the triple-camera setup, the faster processor, to name a few – you may have missed one little design tweak that Apple announced on stage. That's the switch from a glossy, shiny glass finish – as seen on the iPhone 8 and later iPhone models – to a less-reflective, textured matte glass finish. 

On one hand, matte glass surfaces have the advantage of being immune to fingerprint smudges. Besides, they're a rare design trait in the smartphone world, so that would instantly make the new iPhone 11 Pro stand out among a crowd of shiny, flashy competitors. 

But on the other hand, matte glass surfaces tend to be slippery. Like, really slippery.

The iPhone 11 Pro could be the most slippery iPhone in recent years



I want to point out that I rarely say whether a phone feels slippery or not in my reviews. While I do have an opinion, I've noticed that the feeling of slipperiness varies, mostly depending on how dry my skin is. A shiny glass phone that feels perfectly fine in the hand today might feel like a bar of soap once December comes around.

But I've also handled a few phones with matte glass backs that have passed through the office, and they've all felt slippery no matter what. The reason? I'm not exactly sure. It could be that when you have a matte glass surface – which is rough and uneven at a microscopic level – tiny gaps of air exist between it and your skin. Perhaps shiny glass surfaces have more contact area with your skin, therefore providing better grip. 

In any case, I'm worried that the iPhone 11 Pro could be the most slippery iPhone in recent years. I hope I'm wrong.

Will the matte glass iPhone 11 Pro scratch easily?


Speaking of matte glass, the Pixel 3 comes to mind. The phone has an unusual, dual-tone back plate, combining both glossy and matte finish on a single piece of glass. That matte area, however, is prone to scratching. Even running a fingernail across is enough to leave a mark that may or may not come off if you try to rub it out.  


The iPhone 11 Pro is set for release on September 20, and it is then when we'll know how exactly it feels when handled. To learn more about Apple's latest and greatest products, check out our coverage:

Related phones

iPhone 11 Pro
  • Display 5.8" 1125 x 2436 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 12 MP front
  • Processor Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2650 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3046 mAh
iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • Display 6.5" 1242 x 2688 pixels
  • Camera 12 MP / 12 MP front
  • Processor Apple A13 Bionic, Hexa-core, 2650 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3969 mAh

FEATURED VIDEO

13 Comments

1. dimitrie

Posts: 6; Member since: May 17, 2014

Does it really matter these days ? Pretty much everyone uses cases or some form of protection on these phones.

2. matistight

Posts: 1014; Member since: May 13, 2009

Too many hoors out there, gotta wear protection

3. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

Matte usually is accomplished by texturing the glass, which makes it less slippery.

4. SyCo87

Posts: 326; Member since: Sep 19, 2013

Well in the microscopic level, your fingers have less surface area to grip on to compared to a glossy glass surface since the texture is uneven, like brushed metal verses chromed-metal.

6. tedkord

Posts: 17456; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

What I'm saying is, I've held both, and matte is less slippery.

10. Reybanz88

Posts: 102; Member since: Jul 28, 2016

You couldn't have possibly held both and actually think matte glass is less slippery. U may have held something that was matte in texture, but if it wasn't glass it goes qualify.

13. deleon629

Posts: 474; Member since: Oct 04, 2014

I was thinking the exact same thing. Just figured this was Apple's way of increasing production & lowering cost in that area...while at the same time while hoping you ignore it depending on how many times they repeat the word, "EVER!" during the keynote

5. gadgetpower

Posts: 283; Member since: Aug 23, 2019

I’m gonna put case when my new iphone Pro arrives

8. monoke

Posts: 1193; Member since: Mar 14, 2015

Yep. This is gonna be scratch city! Oh. Also if u do get this phone, be sure to turn off the stove top before handling or you're gonna get burned! Lol!

9. Vokilam

Posts: 1347; Member since: Mar 15, 2018

I think whether it will be slippery in your hands or not depends on how cold or warm your hands are.

11. phoneguynh

Posts: 28; Member since: Oct 31, 2018

It really doesn't matter 95% of people will put a case on it.

12. mr.joosue

Posts: 65; Member since: Nov 06, 2017

I see the argument that people will put a case on their phone anyways so the texture doesn't matter, if that's the case, what would be the point of Apple offering a wide variety of colors? I mean we have clear cases, using one myself, but how many people actually buy those

14. topcopy

Posts: 1; Member since: Sep 14, 2019

If Apple et al. really wanted to make a phone that was grippy and not prone to slip and fall, they would have done so years ago. This is about "ecosystem" and accessory sales. Nothing wrong with that. But let's not be naive.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.