Why Are iPhones So Slippery? Here’s The Truth!

By Moses Johnson - Managing Editor
5 Min Read

It’s no doubt iPhones are so slippery. Here’s why
How would you describe iPhones in one word? Exciting? Extravagant? Expensive, perhaps? In any case, I doubt that ”slippery” is a word on your mind right now.

I own several iPhones, and like millions of owners I marvel at the premium design of the casing. It is sleek, simplistic, and feels sensual in the hand. Unfortunately, that comes with a penalty when you use the devices.

In the last week alone I’ve almost dropped my iPhone 15 Pro Max due to the slippery back. The new design and slim profile make this huge iPhone one exquisite-looking piece of technology that’s a real pleasure to use and carry around, but there is nothing “grippy” to hold securely in the hand. Just turning one slightly in the hand can see it slip right out, leaving you to lunge to catch it before it hits the harsh floor.

I know I’m not the only one to experience it, I’ve seen other people perform the “iPhone dance” while trying to catch the device slipping out of the hand. I’ve seen numerous iPhones that weren’t saved before hitting the dirt and were subsequently sporting those disturbing cracks in the glass.

I recently spoke with an acquaintance about the slippery iPhone and he confessed his wife has had her iPhone screen replaced four times. She’s not clumsy, he said, it just slips out of her hand when she’s using it.

Some of you will be quick to point out that you just have to put a case on the phone to avoid the problem. You’d be correct, too, but let’s face it, if you have to put a case on an iPhone to use it securely, that’s what I’d call a design flaw. Good design is not just about making it look good, it’s also about usability.

We’ve seen this slippery problem since the first iPhone. It was sleek and beautiful but you needed a case to keep it in the hand. Then Apple followed that up with an iPhone that was not only sleek and gorgeous, but that was totally enclosed in glass. When that one slipped out of the hand it would not only crack the display but the back, too.

I’m convinced this inability to hold the iPhone securely in the hand is the real reason the bumper case was developed. It was released under the guise of dealing with Antennagate, but I believe it was really to deal with the design choice that makes the phone difficult to hold. After all, the term “bumper” denotes a thing designed to minimize the impact of a collision. Like what happens when the iPhone drops to the floor.

Take an iPhone 15 as an example, the device looks magnificent and feels great, but try using it without any case or cover and you know what I mean. It is almost impossible to hold in the hand without dropping it. Move it around while holding it and it doesn’t feel secure at all. It’s like holding a wet bar of soap covered in lubricant. While beautiful with the new matte frosted back, it’s downright impossible to get a good grip! You have to squeeze it so hard to try to grip it.

Unless I’m reviewing a case, I like to use my iPhone naked. But that’s not possible with the iPhone 15 Pro Max, because it’s too damn slippery.

Its matte glass panels, coupled with its size and weight, mean it’s nearly impossible to go a week without dropping the iPhone 15 Pro Max. And if you don’t drop it, it will surely slide off something or slip out of your pocket.

I can already hear the responses to this: “don’t buy an iPhone if you don’t like this.” Unfortunately, the sleek design of iPhones has been picked up by many of its competitors, so that’s not an answer.

Reasons Why iPhones Are so slippery

Glossy Frame

The first reason why iPhones are so slippery is because of the steel frame on the side of the phone. The steel frame looks more like a piece of jewelry rather than a phone. But the good news ends there. The steel frame is so glossy and slippery that it’s nearly impossible to pick up the iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 13 pro, or iPhone 14 Pro from your desk without risking dropping it midway. A case would help, of course, but it will diminish these premium looks. Better safe than sorry, i guess.

Frosted glass back,

Another reason why iPhones are so slippery is because of the frosted glass back, flat again, which looks nothing short of gorgeous. Whether it’s white or blue, gold, Deep Purple, or product red, it’s an instant eye-grabber. Plus, it feels presently soft on touch, and you’ll just loved running your fingertips across this surface.

Unfortunately, while the rear glass isn’t a smudge-fest like the frame, it is just as slippery. For instance, the matte glass on the iPhone 12 Pro series, iPhone 13 Pro series, iPhone 14 Pro series and iPhone 15 pro series provides an awful grip, and the only thing that kept me from constantly dropping them were the square, though not razor-sharp, edges of the frame.

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 newer iPhone stand out among a crowd of shiny, flashy competitors.

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

I’ve handled various iPhone models with matte glass backs including iPhone 11 Pro, iPhone 12 Pro, iPhone 13 Pro,, iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro, and they’ve all felt slippery no matter what. The reason? 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.

The iPhone 8 is equally a slippery line of phones. When the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus came out in 2017, people complained about them being very slippery. This was due to the iPhone 8 series featuring glass on the front and back — the first time Apple had done this since the iPhone 4S. Previous iPhones, like the iPhone 7 and iPhone 6S had an aluminum back that wasn’t as slippery.

Having said that, the iPhone 6 and iPhone seven are so slippery because their bodies are made from anodized aluminum. Anodized aluminum is very slippery. The slipperiest iPhone was the iPhone 6 series. Apple gradually improved grip by making the aluminum on the iPhones 6s and 7 less prone to moisture. In addition, the curved sides on iPhone 7 and iPhone 6 series mean that you don’t have a good way to lock the phone in your hand like you could with a phone that has a more pronounced edge. This point is less a compromise for technical reasons, and more of a criticism of the fundamental way this phone was built from the start.

How To Make iPhone Less Slippery?

iPhones offer a sleek design with matte glass and stunning stainless steel frame all around, but while it sure looks aesthetically pleasing to the eye, it’s useless when it comes to providing grip. The slippery texture on a an iPhone makes it prone to falls and makes it hard to use with one hand. Maybe you hate to cover up the exquisite iPhone design but don’t you hate to see your lovely device damaged if it were to fall?

Many people are willing to cover the premium glass design of their iPhone with something like a plastic case, so long as that case comes with a promise of apt protection from daily wear and tear.

And although getting a case might feel like a compromise to some, aside from protecting your iPhone from scratches, it might even save it from the occasional accidental drop. In addition, impact protection aside, many cases are grippy and less likely to slide off the table as smooth glass will.

With the iPhone offering a sleek (and slippery) design, it’s arguably more important than ever to put it in a case for extra protection and less slippage, especially if you don’t have AppleCare or insurance for your device.

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By Moses Johnson Managing Editor
Moses Johnson is the Editorial Director of GeeksModo.com, who has a keen eye for news, rumors, and all the unusual stuff around Apple products. Moses is commonly referred to online as The Professor, with decades of experience in tech under his belt.
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