Mystifying nano Screen Issue

by Derrick Story

Just like everyone else in the Mac community, I've been following the discussion about the nano screen issues. There have been reports of two problems: 1) the screen seems to scratch easier than other iPods, and 2) it will actually crack under normal use.

I'm curious about these reports, especially those who say they've seen marred nanos displayed in Apple Stores (wow, talk about bad marketing if this is true!). You can review this discussion for yourself on These reports fly in the face of reviews by other sources such as ars technica that did all sorts of nasty things to their nanos and commented on their robustness -- definitely no screen cracking from carrying it in a top shirt pocket.

My 4GB black nano has not suffered any marring or screen cracking either, even though I've been testing it constantly for my previous posts. In fact, my only complaint has been that my battery doesn't last 14 hours.

So, what's the deal here? I doubt that the unsatisfied nano owners are making up stories. Why would they? And I don't think that I and other satisfied owners have been that careful handling our devices. It almost sounds like there are two types of nano screens out there... possibly from two different vendors supplying them to Apple?

If you're a nano owner, I'd like to hear your screen experiences -- good or bad. And if you have any insight as to how these things are produced, I'd love to hear from you.


2005-09-26 18:30:35
Nano Owner
I own a Nano, and have not noticed any unusual screen or finish problems. As you say, iPods have always been scratch-prone, so I take extra care of the Nano (and my other iPod) and will do so until I get a good case.
2005-09-26 19:17:44
My nano screen has issues
I got my 4gb white nano shipped direct to me from Apple here in Japan, mostly because they weren't available in stores and I could get the custom engraving.

It arrived last week. When I unpacked it, I made the mistake of removing the face plate plastic and putting it over the metallic back of the nano. I thought it was the metal part which needed protection. I certainly would have bought a total body mask for the nano, like I have with my 20gb 3G iPod. However, nobody was (and is) carrying them here as yet.

Anyway, I decided I'd put the thing in my shirt pocket and use it on my 2 hour commute to work on the train. There was nothing else in that pocket, save the headphones which I kept on the back side of the nano to avoid scratches. Well, I was suprised to see when I arrived at work some smudge like marring of the screen in a couple of spots. There was nothing sticky or dirty in my pocket and nothing rubbing it (like a strap).

The next day, I looked at the nano and tried to clean it with a microfiber cloth. I hoped those smudges were just that, and would come off easily. Well, it had no effect what so ever. I tried a different microfiber cloth that I use to clean my PSP and found that it seemed to affect the smudges BUT actually scratched or streaked the nano screen! This is ridiculous.

I bought a small plastic/vinyl screen protector marketed for camera or phone LCDs and it covers up the smudges partially. Now I'm noticing the finish on the front of the nano still has such smudges - though I could live with those. And the metallic side is fine.

I'm very upset with the screen smudges, however. And I will go to the Apple store here to demand they replace next week when I have some time. This shouldn't happen to a $250 product kept in a loose shirt pocket for a couple hours. Given that they market this iPod for active and casual usage (in your change pocket!), Apple needs to come clean and fix this problem. I don't know if it is the finish or just poor curing of the polymer used. It's a DEFECT and should be dealt with quickly.

2005-09-26 20:05:57
Nano screen
2g white--okay so far but I left a piece of the clear packing tape across the screen until I can get a decent case for it--many bad marks to Apple for releasing a product before its most useful accessories are available.
2005-09-26 20:46:23
a few items to ponder
first of all, besides the U2 ipod, this is the first release of an all black ipod, this color will simply show scratches more than white, or any other color apple has produced. it would be interesting to see the complaints related to color type.

two, could this be an issue with the mix of the polycarbonate used in early production runs. it's probably some form of Lucite, but with any resin quality can vary by several factors, but anyone that remember science class, knows that a harder material can only scratch a softer material. so cotton scratching lucite? hum...

three, apple is selling 70,000+ ipods a day, so the factor of several hundred becoming an issue by scratched by rough use is entirely possible.

fourth, i've seen some of the damaged nano screen, and it looks like they have been bent, or pressed directly. perhaps the nano is simply too thin to withstand true consumer use/abuse. as a side note, i'd like to see a much bigger battery, giving it a little more size and weight.

five, it's possible some of these reports are simply trolls trying to bring apple and the "ipod people down". so while it probably is an issue, the number of trolls posting fake reports could be high as well.

lastly, apple tries to develop all this stuff in secret, which limits real world testing. mr ive needs to build them for very rough use as we go deeper outside the traditional "apple mac" market. thin is great, but there are limits, ive needs to tell steve it needs to be 1/8 thicker, (like gen 1, 2 ipods) and none of this would be happening.

2005-09-26 22:10:35
My Nano have been fall on the ground!
I also own a 4GB nano for more than 2 weeks. Around 7 days ago, due to my careless, my nano fell from 1.5 metre height from my hand to the ground (the ground is made by marble). But the screen didn't crack or have any problem. My nano is still function properly now.

I cannot judge the other "reports" is real or not. But the above is what I really experienced.

2005-09-26 22:22:44
Screen scratch
I had my iPod in my pocket with just my id badge for work, and sure enough, it ended up scratched. I swear, look at it wrong and it scratches.
2005-09-26 23:45:06
Comments Update
In addition to the level-headed posts here (Mac DevCenter readers are the best, truly), I've received mail and IM messages. (I had changed my iChat status to "nano comments?".) And it's still mixed grill.

First, I examined mine again tonight under harsh lighting (which always shows the most flaws) and I have nothing. Literally nothing. Most of the IM comments have said the same thing, adding that they're using various socks and pouches to carry their nano when not in use.

One reader made an interesting point in mail he sent to me. He thinks that people are trying to deface nano screens in Apple Stores to add fuel to this story. His experiences were that the nanos were being very tightly monitored by Apple Store employees. He had visited 2 different locations.

Yet, one very reliable source whom I know personally says he has a scratched screen from just normal use.

I'll tell you what I'm scratching here; it's my head. Do you know the feeling when you sense there's a missing piece you aren't aware of? That's what I have here.

2005-09-27 15:01:09
Nano screen
"many bad marks to Apple for releasing a product before its most useful accessories are available"

I keep seeing remarks like this. I can't help but wonder why people that say this don't simply wait until the accessories they consider necessary are released before buying a new product.

More on the topic, I have to wonder if the Ipod Nano is pulling in more people that none of the others have and these people have unrealistic expectations about scratch resistance of Ipods because of their reputation of durability. But if people's screens are being damaged under normal use, Apple has a serious problem.

2005-09-27 15:08:24
Comments Update
"One reader made an interesting point in mail he sent to me. He thinks that people are trying to deface nano screens in Apple Stores to add fuel to this story."

I went into an Apple Store about a week after the Nano was released. I was surprised to see the amount of scratches on the faces of some of the Ipods. I figured they were just getting handled (A LOT!) over the week like they were that day. So, I wrote it off and didn't pay much attention to it. Thinking back, the black Nanos may have been appeared worse off than the white ones which is to be expected.

An Apple employee was there showing the resiliency of the Nano to a customer by dropping it onto the display table. I'd imagine this wasn't the first time that happened. While I was there I also gave it a little flex test and I wasn't able to bend the Nano between my middle three fingers the way you'd break a pencil.

2005-09-27 15:11:57
My thoughts
Hi Derrick,

I've got two black nanos in the house now. Here's my experience:

I feel much the same as you, I feel like something is odd about the people reporting problems. Either their expectations are very high or maybe there is something wrong with a batch of nanos. I also feel like the press is just jumping on the story based on a few isolated reports. We'll see!

2005-09-27 20:23:20
Link is down
The .Mac homepage link posted in the article is no longer there.... odd.
2005-09-28 09:26:08
screen scratches
My Nano screen scratched on the 3rd day I had it. Sort of a foggy brillo pad scratch that almost looks like it could be cleaned off but doesn't. Since then I have been carrying it around in an Oakley sunglasses microfiber sleeve, but I've read that someone used microfiber cloth to try and clean the screen and that scratched it.

Such an achilles heel has really tarnished the iPod image. If it cost $49.95 none of us would be complaining but at $250 they could put something harder, or have provided a case instead of making us wait to buy 5 cases, 4 of which we will probably never use. Here's an idea for a killer website, a way to pass your unused covers on to other users. It's like a Nano dating site where you match up Nano's with unused covers!

2005-09-29 23:05:25
Saw all the display samples in Apple Store have scratches
I was thinking getting a nano. I went to the local Apple Store in Burlingame, Calif. They have over 20 nano display over the store. I went thru one by one and looked at the screen of them. I was surprised to see that all of them have scratches on them. Not only they have scratches all over the Plastic surface, but on the back on the aluminum surface too.

The scratches on the plastic surface, I think, is from the people playing with the sample display at the store.

The scratches on the aluminum surface is from the metal dock they use in the store for the ipod nano. The scratches look even more ugly on the aluminum than on the plastic surface.

2005-10-06 18:22:21
FOr those of you suffering from the nano screen issue, please email me. There is a Nano Class Action suit.... join in email me your story and your information at
2005-10-17 13:40:05
Nano screen problem
This is my story:

I bought my nano weeks ago, and it finally came in a little over a week ago. I think the custom engraving delayed its delivery.

Anyhow, after I received it, I proceeded to remove the plastic wrap around it. After the first day of use, I saw a huge diagonal smudge on it. I thought it was some sticky residue, so I wiped it with my glass lens cloth. No luck. I breathed on it before I wiped again. No luck. It was a scratch. And today, I put it in my khaki pants pocket for 10 minutes on the way to the library. Nothing else but the headphones. A bigger scratch on the right side of the screen. Now I am having trouble even seeing the words with the color ON. I make sure there is nothing inside the pocket but the iPod itself. I take the utmost care of it, and yet the screen looks like its been through hell and back. I am extremely disappointed in the nano screen. And like one of the guys above mentioned, the battery life is nowhere near the claimed 14 hours.

I can't believe some people are making the allegation that there are Apple haters out there trying to slander their products. I took a risk when I bought this 250 dollar product, and I took great care of it, knowing that it waws small and "delicate", and it still looks like it's been abused. I am just a typical college student with no bias or issues against Apple. My sister has the Mini, and she treats it like garbage and there still aren't any huge sratches on the screen like the ones on my nano.

Are there any steps I can take to maybe get it replaced? Or worse a refund? I really like my nano, but its resilience to open air does lethal damageto its screen.

2005-11-28 11:15:03
hey whats up, yeah, i tried my own cleaning thing. and it worked great. and i used this oil-based cleaner with a rag, just like the idrops or any other ipod cleaner. and they dont mention not to put the oil near the wheel (the scrolling circle). and im guessing it got inside, and now my nano is broke. so i dont know what to do... do you have any suggestions on what to do? because youre putting a liquid over your scrolling thing too. so what can i do?
please email me back IF u have time. at
Nano Lover
2006-01-31 05:12:11
I do have problems with it scratching, but never cracking or breaking. I've heard ways to treat the fullsize iPods to get rid of scratches, but I don't know if I can use it on the screen of the nano. It does scratch way to easy. I have a polar fleece jacket, and I don't keep anything in the pocket with the iPod, but the screen is scratched to hell.
Derrick Brooks
2006-02-20 01:47:55
My White nano have suffered a few scratches and I seen the crome back did also and I didn't want to look a my screen and see scratches so I went out and bought 3 items iKlear,iDrops,and a Can Of Brasso I fused them all together and to see what result I get and the result of it was bad even bader than before so I start trying them one at a time and I want things done fast so I out iDrops on it and it didn't work iklear don't work so I tried my last and final result and that was brasso brasso took very little scratches off then I fused Brasso with iDrops and it worked on my deep scratches my screen has no more scratches and I'm trying it on the whole body right this min and it Didn't work that good e-mail me i'll tell you the steps
2006-03-09 13:44:01
The rumors about the screen factor-they're true. I have never dropped my nano and have 2 cases for it. The first on I bought when I first got my nano-it was still getting scratched in the case, so I decided to buy another one, bad idea, it didn't make any difference. My iPod nano has so many scratches its not even funny. My sister got one, and hers is perfect, and after I've read reviews on and other websites...well, its either you get a good iPod, or a bad one...
2006-04-08 01:50:46
Hi, ive actualy had the screen crack on 2 consecutive (replaced) nanos...

what you have to first understand, is the crack is NOT outside, it is inside the nano, you cannot feel it from the surface but see it on the inside...thus...this didnt apear to be a misuse issue to me...

so i spoke to a frend who is doing a degree in plastics...and apparently it is a stress crack due to certain heating paterns in the nano...quite similar to what occasianly happens to car windscreens...

therefore...the nano CAN be sitting on its own doign nothign ,a nd just crack...

so...its a manifacturing fault, but apple are rather unhelpfull on this isue

2006-05-15 21:02:45
i seemed some how to crack the screen and possibly the pc board behind it. My 4g blak wont even turn on now i was so dissapointed. i never had a problem w/ scratches because i took good care of it but i was seriously outragged when i had done nothing at all to break the screen. I lost all faith in apple after this. Because they rip us off by knowing the sreen easily cracks and doesnt cover it under warranty.ive had nothing but bad experiences w/ my ipod. my reccomendation to any one who is interested in purchasing a Nano dont they are a waste of money and will break so easy it's almost amazing