[Update] HTC One S Ceramic Coating Not As Durable As It Seems – HTC Responds


You may remember a few weeks back when we showed you the unique manufacturing process HTC touts in their promotional video for the HTC One S. In the video, the unibody shell of the device undergoes a “microarc oxidization” process in which the aluminum unibody shell is zapped by electricity, causing the exterior of the device to develop a ceramic-like coating, supposedly, four times harder than your everyday anodized aluminum. Well, if you were thinking of taking HTC’s advice and forgoing a protective case for the device altogether, you may want to reconsider after learning what’s been going on with a few user’s devices over on XDA.

Apparently, not just one, but a few HTC One S owners have been reporting chipping along the rim of the device after only a few days, even though their devices never suffered from any drops, or had been otherwise mistreated in any way. This occurrence was also verified by developer extraordinaire, Paul Modaco, who noticed the same issue with his One S.

HTC has responded to TheVerge today and says they are “aware of the reports” and are currently investigating the issue.

It’s worth noting that the microarc oxidation (MAO) process is only found on the black version of the One S. So, for those that are looking to avoid unsightly paint chips, you might want to pursue the grey/silver/blue version instead. This news follows reports of the HTC One X supposedly suffering from poor build quality after the plastic housing allows for erratic touch sensor behavior when gripped too tightly. Not exactly the kind of publicity HTC was hoping for after releasing their flagship overseas (and soon in the US).

What do you guys think? Are these users being too nitpicky? As someone who lives with OCD, I can tell you seeing little paint chips like that would cause me to lose my mind (and actually did, after noticing a similar problem on my HTC EVO 3D). This is unacceptable for a device that was supposed to chip the floor when dropped, not vice versa.

UPDATE: It appears that, after a quick investigation, HTC has responded to the chipping claims in a statement saying,

HTC is committed to delivering a high quality product and great experience for all our customers. There have been a few, isolated reports of this issue. The finish on the One S was laboratory tested as being at a hardness similar to ceramic. While that’s hard, it doesn’t mean it’s impossible to damage. Regardless, HTC takes quality very seriously and are providing all customers with an immediate fix and we are implementing some small changes to ensure customers do not experience this issue in the future.

Looks like One S owners who have already purchased the device could either bring the affected devices back to the store they purchased the phone from, or HTC will replace it under their standard warranty terms. That was fast. Kudos, HTC!

Thanks, Lorenzo!

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. idk, after a few months i would expect some of that but a few days is kinda rediculous…

    1. This is the R&D power difference between the big guns [samsung, apple] and asus.

        1. you mad bro ;)

  2. I had high hope for the One line… now it’s in the bottom of the ocean of my tear…

    1. The one x is still a option

      1. Lol that ONE has build quality issues too.
        — this isn’t actually funny its a 600$ phone. This is outrageous!

        1. Yeah, I pre-ordered my One X through Bestbuy.  Hopefully the build quality is nice when I get it.  Bc my Atrix has last more than a year for me so far.  If I don’t like it when I get it, I guess I could see how SGSIII is when it comes out and just buy it full price and sell my One X.

          1.  BAALLLLLLLL-ERRRRRRRrrrrrrrr!

  3. Hahaha!

  4. HTC already responded. Current users can return their phone to the carrier within the DOA, usually 30 days. If they don’t, they can send it to HTC and follow warranty guidelines. HTC said they are aware of the problem and will be making some changes to correct it. 

    They probably changed the ratios or something to fix the problem.

    1. I think what they will change, is bragging rights. They will no longer mention that the phone has a “ceramic” surface.

  5. And the ONE X problem is pretty isolated over at XDA the polls show a majority of customers’ (like 80 percent) phones are perfect in their opinion, in regards to hardware.

  6. And I have been abusing my plastic Galaxy Note without chipping it…

    1. “but… but… but… plastic is “cheap”! I need something heavy and “premium”-feeling.”. :)

      1. I know! Let’s zap it with 10,000 volts of electricity and transform the metal into ceramic! That’ll do it! 


        1. And people wondered why the One X is polycarbonate! ha.

          1. Once all the phone OEM’s move to ceramic, 5 years from now there will be an all new “unique phone” made entirely out of polycarbonate and everyone will go nuts xD

          2. OMFG whats it called Chris 0.o

            i MUST knowwww

          3. I shall call it Polyceramititaniucarbothermitunubtanium!

            And the cover will be a blue sapphire crystal cover like my watch, which sounds cool when people try to sound cool mentioning it, like me!

      2. The sarcasm in this post should be repeated to all the plastic haters.

      3. Still loving my plastic Nexus S. HTC is overrated and so are heavy metal-cased phones.

      4.  “Weight is a sign or reliability.  If it doesn’t work you can always hit him with it” -Boris The Blade

    2. Unfortunately that plastic does nothing to allievate poor signal, bad gps, and just feeling cheap every time you hold it.

      1. awww, we got an htc fanboy who might also be sucking an icock. not sure.  ;)

        1.  U mad bro?

      2. have you ever felt a polycarbonate phone, like a lumia 900? They don’t feel cheap. Go back under your bridge, troll.

  7. Shocking, that HTC would put out a product with beyond terrible build quality… It does give me the slightest bit of hope that they are responding quickly, but it seems like some things will never change unfortunately

  8. Fail

  9. If i dont drop or bang my phone around and it looked like that after a few days I would be PISSED. 

    Especially since this treatment is supposed to be 5x stronger then aerospace aluminum and 3x stronger then stainless steel….

    1. Well, I’m sure it can still stop a bullet. It seems to be the paint of “ceramic coating” that isn’t adhering to the aluminum. =p

      1. I don’t think it will stop a bullet, unless it was made of AR500 steel :)

        I guess unless someone shoots you with a pellet or .22

        1. Anyone remember the story of the Evo 4G stopping a bullet? This device is stronger than the Evo too because of MAO, I’m sure it has a chance.

  10. hmmmm props to HTC for honoring their mistake… i feel like another certain company would just tell people they are holding it wrong or setting it down wrong or something retarded and then mail them rubber bands to “fix” it

    1.  One company (Apple) would blame U.S. end users and make excuses. Another company desperately trying to be just like the former (Samsung) would tell U.S. end users to eff off because they’re not getting the product until everyone else on the planet does anyway.

      Kudos to HTC for addressing the issue….immediately. ;)

      1. LOL if Steve Jobbs were alive he’d say you were holding it wrong.

  11. With that kind of sharp angle, i can see why it chipped….pretty obvious from the pictures

  12. HTC fails again. It’s nice to know that they don’t field test their equipment before they release to the masses.

    HTC build quality issues are a huge issue with most handsets they release. Light leakage on several models, inconsistent gaps, creaky battery covers, now this issue with the One series.

    When will they learn that the public will not tolerate these issues on $600+ products?

    1. Although I don’t like the fact that quality is an issue initially after a product is released, HTC is one of the best at quickly investigating, solving, and doing what ever they can to apologize to the customer. Only other company that acts that quickly is Apple. 

      And what other handsets had massive quality issues besides the Evo 4G? I’m not totally familiar. 

      1. I think it’s the fact that they have to do it so often. Just because they are the quickest doesn’t make them the best. They have made a LOT of mistakes. They better be pro at fixing them by now.

        Unrelated, why does HTC use the same look/style for every damn phone? They are so stupid looking.

        1.  The SGS2 is boring. Oh wait, since this phone is doing great, lets make it bigger. Oh wait lets make it bigger and change the specs a bit. Oh wait. I got a idea, lets make it into a phone/tablet.. HOLY MOLY, i got another idea. Lets make that phone/tablet into a full tablet!

          1. You actually sound quite boring. HTC has the most boring phone designs I’ve ever seen. Oh look grey with some other off-tone color… again…

          2. As opposed to exciting rounded black rectangle, or sharp edged rectangle made by every smartphone company in the world, I agree with you. The HTC rounded rectangle is clearly the most boring.

          3. AH!!! ?

      2.  “Only other company that acts that quickly is Apple.”
        You’re joking, right? Apple sticks it’s head in the sand and DENIES DENIES DENIES there is a problem, until finally they are forced to acknowledge and rectify it. They’re one of the worst at acting quickly.

    2.  So you obviously manufacture  hundreds of thousands of devices every year and never have any quality issues.  How do you know it wasn’t a bad batch?  S**t happens, at least they’re accepting it’s their fault.  In my mind that is acceptable.  Nothing in life is perfect and unless it is a major fault like the device doesn’t work, how about you keep the fail-wagon parked in the shed. 

      Man… some people need to relax.

  13. I remember when I had my htc hero in 2009/10 the paint was chipping off the buttons then the call and power button stopped working. Good times.

  14. The internels are great as well as sense but the outside is hit or miss it seems.

  15. Coolish…Now on a side note, Chris do you, believe that OCD can be overcome? Does it ever end you think?

    1. This conversation got real deep, real quick. Lol 

      But yes… OCD can be fought. I fight it everyday and it’s an ongoing battle. 

      1. ditto… ahhhhhhh 1st world disorders :P I genuinely wonder if the lower class of the rest of the world suffer as much anxiety about ADD and OCD as i do on a daily basis… God knows I also get a lot more aid for my problems than they do :/

          1. With real individuals. :)

      2. Chris displays his on-going wining battle with OCD every morning when he wakes up and decides to not fix his hair. You show em who’s boss Chris… o_O?


        1. I think Chris’ hair shows everyone who’s boss and that there’s a lot of jealousy out there. Not you, of course. Just talking in general terms.

  16. I have always been an HTC fan with their metal casings-I just don’t like Sense & have been very impressed with the SGII. Plastic doesn’t bother me. I’ll just wait for next Sammy.

  17. wow, high level of HTC bashing. what a bunch of Samsung whiners/ complainers/ trolls. 

  18. That would give the phones a nice vintage style after a few months… :)

  19. People that complain about quality control without having numbers are talking out their @ss. How many were sold and how many are afflicted with the issue? If you don’t have those #s then your are making guesses. There are failure rates when mass producing devices. 1% and below is usually a good #. For newly designed devices this may be higher during the initial releases. I am sure HTC has sold a crapload of these already. 

  20. This is such fail from HTC….build quality issues now followed by One S build quality issues…

    Whilst all the htc fanboys are rushing to praise hTc’s immediate response to the issue all they can do right now is to replace the phone which will have the same problem. They shouldn’t be needing to do this in the first place!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    This is just unacceptable. Its a phone worth over 500pounds. Made in Taiwan…
    I’m not taking the risk. Sorry htc. Its the SGSIII this summer

  21. I don’t understand the problem,
    It’s only the paint.. the shell will sill crack the flor on drop test
    I would rub the upper shell and reveal it

  22. Of course it’s going to chip. Donuts.
    It’s a (hard & brittle) ceramic coating, overlaid on (soft & ductile) metal. The metal bends/springs/moves, the ceramic doesnt, so the thin ceramic layer chips off. Every time the phone is put down / rattled in a pocket / squeezed too hard, the coating will crack invisibly. After a wee while the cracks will turn into a chip.  

    It’s not a quality issue, it’s a design issue, a materials issue.  

    Stupid mistake, detracts from the world’s fastest phone.

    1.  Simmer down here Mr. “I’m gonna be all rational and make a valid point.”  We don’t take kindly to your… kind… Ya hear!? O_o

  23. HTC burned me too many times with cheap plastic crap and EVERY SINGLE ONE had the worst battery life on an Android based phone ever.

    Nooooo HTC crap for me ever again.

  24. My two year old Galaxy S is still in flawless shape after numerous drops to concrete and no protective case.

    “Cheap” plastic: 1
    “Premium” metal: 0

    1. My year old Nexus S 4G has been dropped more times than I can count onto concrete and barely shows any wear. I don’t mind the “cheap plastic” look at all.

  25. You’re holding it wrong.  – Steve Jobs

  26. I’ve owned Samsung’s with issues GPS on captivate as well as poor signal reception, plus samsung is still behind the pack when it comes to software updates, both fixes for bugs and new OS versions. My SGSII has had wifi drain issues for over half a year. 
    My HTC Thunderbolt had some initial software issues which were all resolved in the first 3 months of owning the device and no build quality issues and they tend to be better about updates than Samsung.

    I won’t buy motorola’s because of how tightly they lock their phones down and most of them are lackluster imo. 

    As far as scratches and cosmetic issues after use of a smartphone, I’ll say the same thing I’ve always said, if you use a smartphone without a case and screen protector, your going to scratch it up or have paint flecking off at some point, buy a case if your OCD and that bothers you.
    I do and I haven’t every had a scratches or chips on any of my smartphones and I’ve owned.

  27. I got me a carbonite phone after I dropped it in the same chamber Han Solo was put into by Darth Vader

  28. Been said before in these comments, but I will reiterate. HTC using aluminum, and the sheeple who think it is “more durable” or “premium feel” are stupid. I had a HTC EVO 3D for a month and a half and traded it for a Samsung Epic 4G Touch. In the month that I had it, the small amount of aluminum was polished to a different color from nothing other than my pocket AND I HAD A CASE ON IT! There would have to be no other phone manufacturers for me to buy another HTC.

  29. the one x is an awesome phone the case is great feels awesome in my hands light to hold onto but still feels strong and the screen omg its so good 

  30. His name is Paul O’Brien.

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