Turn your iPhone 5 into an … i Phone 5

Kelly Vieira
29 November, 2012
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The iPhone 5 sold 2 million pre-orders on the first day of its release. The first weekend the handset was available saw sales leap to 5 million! With so many iPhone 5s out there, it’s difficult to differentiate yours from the herd. Each time I hear that Apple message tone – you know the one, the high pitched ‘ding’ – I check my phone. When friends gather, you end up with a table-full of iPhones and have to check each one’s lock screen to find yours before you leave. It’s a pain – but it doesn’t have to be your pain!

The Obvious Answer

Get a case. There are a whole heap of iPhone 5 cases available in stores or online. Personally, I bought mine from eBay – there are loads of stores in Hong Kong that will sell cheap iPhone 5 cases, but they may take a while to deliver. If you need one now – and let’s face it, the iPhone 5 wears so easily you really should get a case on it as soon as possible – you’ll just have to find one in store. Most department stores and phone retailers should have a few in stock. Or you can go out all out and get your own printed at Uncommon.

The pros to having a case are many: you personalise your iPhone 5 and make it yours; you can coordinate it with your outfit (oh geez, really? That’s going a bit far); and you protect your investment – with a minimum $799 spend, this is a serious concern. If you want the best resale value for your iPhone 5, which you should if you plan on getting the 5S/6 when it launches, then a good, sturdy case is your best bet.

Stuff the Scuff

Apple has received a lot of slack for using an anodised aluminium in it’s black iPhone 5 models – the black coating scratches off quite easily and leaves the silver of the metal exposed underneath. After a few weeks of general use, you’ll see nicks cropping up all along the bevelled edge. It’s disappointing that such a premium phone can’t withstand everyday use and the scratches make the expensive handset look cheap.

But fear not, there is a fix! iPhoneTy posted a video up on Youtube showing everyone how to turn the iPhone 5’s biggest negative into a massive positive. If you take a piece of 1500 grit sandpaper and purposely rub it over the edge of the iPhone 5, you can chip away at the black coating yourself. Be careful around the volume buttons (you might like to put some sticky-tape over them while you’re sanding in that area) so you don’t scratch off sections of their coating. In the end, you’ll end up with an iPhone 5 that has a neat little silver lining around the outside, sort of like on the iPhone 3/3G. If you had either of those iPhone models and are feeling nostalgic, this may be the way to go – although, don’t hold me responsible if you mess up or change your mind afterwards.

Shirts and Skins

Remember what I said about protecting your investment? Taking sandpaper to your iPhone 5 won’t help its resale value, but a case can be bulky, effectively nullifying Apple’s super-thin, super-light engineering feat.

A happy middle ground does exist: decals or skins. You can purchase them online from a variety of stores (Decal Girl has a whole heap) and you can even get blank ones off eBay and other sites to draw or print your own. They’re easy to use – you just peel off the backing, line it up with your phone’s edges and stick on – and don’t damage the phone. In fact, they do the opposite and protect it from scratches and dust much more effectively than covers (although they won’t help if you drop your iPhone 5 and it shatters. You’d need a heavy duty case to protect against that sort of abuse). Just make sure you don’t skimp here – cheaper decals use cheaper glue that won’t peel off as easily and may leave residues behind.

Look and sound different

So you’ve picked a case/skin or you’ve sanded down your iPhone 5 and you have that picture you instagramed of your friends at the beach as your wallpaper. It looks pretty, it’s just the way you want it and you’re really happy with it. But it still sounds like very other iPhone in existence. Bummer.

Ringtones. They’re as old as the phone itself and have undergone multiple evolutions (anyone remember making their own ringtones on the 3310?) to the point where you can pick a song or any audio you like and use that. There really is no excuse not to have a personalised ringtone – PCWorld can show you how to make ringtones for the iPhone 5 using just iTunes 8 or later. You can customise message tones too and, from the 4S onwards, you can also set your own vibration patterns. You can even assign certain tones and vibrations to certain contacts, if you really want to use this feature to its full extent.

And there you have it – your iPhone 5 is now all yours. Apple may have designed it, Foxconn may have built it, but you’re the one who owns it. Now … to do it all again once the next iPhone comes out.


Kelly Vieira is a content writer specialising in mobile gadgets for Finder’s mobile phone comparison website MobilePhoneFinder.com.au. You can find her on her Twitter @_kellycvieira or just comment below. She also likes liquorice.

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