Mapping Apple’s immeasurable star of space gray shades | 9to5Mac

April 18, 2018 - Fifty Shades of Grey

Silver aluminum, once a defining demeanour of Apple products, has been met with augmenting accumulation over a final several years by a operation of colors and finishes that business can select from. One of a beginning and many renouned options – space gray – has permeated opposite roughly each product line Apple offers.

Samsung Gear 360

Yet, ubiquity has not brought consistency. Each new era of a product seems to move with it a somewhat opposite take on space gray. Those with immeasurable device collections have noted a discrepancies between shades, and discussions brew online over a term’s accurate definition.

While pointed variations in material, texture, lighting, and even a figure of a product can play tricks on a eyes, each device Apple now offers or has constructed in space gray can be grouped into one of several loosely tangible categories. Below, we’ve cataloged and categorized a immeasurable star of Apple’s new dim element finishes in an try to uncover a mysteries of space gray.Pre-flight

Long before a space gray odyssey began in 2013, Apple done several inclination in dim immaculate steel or anodized aluminum tones. The believe and imagination gained from these early products would positively assistance Apple furnish tradition finishes during a many incomparable scale on iPhones and iPads years later. 

One of a initial inclination to get a dim lead diagnosis was a second chronicle of a iPod U2 Special Edition. While a strange U2-branded iPod sported a black and red faceplate with a china immaculate steel back, an upgraded model introduced in Jun 2006 and formed on a 5th-generation iPod had a darkly coloured behind casing. A few months later, a 2nd-generation, aluminum bodied iPod nano debuted in 5 new anodized colors, one of them being an ultra low black.

As a whole iPod line altered from cosmetic to aluminum housing, a iPod shuffle, classic, and nano would all be offering with black finishes during several times. The first-generation iPod hold was accented with a dim gray anodized aluminum bezel. An refurbish to a iPod classical in Sep 2008 saw a faceplate change from a low black to a shade of dim gray, creation it maybe a beginning tangible instance of what we’d call space gray today.

In Sep 2010, a 6th-generation iPod nano was announced in a shade of gray Steve Jobs called “graphite,” nonetheless references on Apple’s website also used a tenure “charcoal” to report a color. 

Photo: Jim Abeles

Perhaps many interestingly, Apple also constructed several prototypes of a strange iPhone with a really dim gray, scarcely black finish. Photos of a prototypes from gourmet Jim Abeles uncover a unreleased phones successive to their china twin, relating solely in finish. While Abeles doesn’t have any serve information on a prototypes over their 2006 date of manufacture, a tone is strikingly identical to a iPhone Bluetooth Headset appendage that Apple expelled alongside a initial iPhone in 2007. Blue Shift

Apple’s September 2012 keynote introduced both a iPhone 5 and a relating iPod touch, nano, and trifle in a code new color: slate. Distinctively gray, though with a somewhat blue hue, line-up can simply be called a proceed prototype to space gray. One month later, a first-generation iPad mini became a initial (and only) iPad ever expelled in slate. While photos of a 9.7-inch iPad in a relating paint circulated online, a device was never released. In 2013, line-up would disappear entirely, transposed by space gray. 

One of a reasons for slate’s brief lifespan might be due to widespread reports from iPhone 5 owners that a finish chipped and scratched easily, a materialisation that became famous as “scuffgate.” Apple responded to a issue, observant a wear business gifted was “normal,” though destiny space gray finishes have valid some-more volatile to scratches and dings.Space Gray 1

The iPhone 5s introduced a star to space gray in Sep 2013. Alongside it came versions of a existent 5th-generation iPod touch, 7th-generation iPod nano, and 4th-generation iPod trifle in space gray, replacing a same models formerly offering in slate.

In Oct 2013, both a iPad mini 2 and iPad Air debuted in space gray. Apple continued to sell a strange iPad mini during a reduce cost, also lovely it with a space gray casing. 

Strangely enough, a usually other product sole in a strange space gray tone wasn’t done by Apple during all. Prior to acquisition in 2014, Beats Electronics released special book models of their urBeats earbuds to coincide with a launch of a iPhone 5s, offering in silver, gold, and space gray. Space Gray 2

For 3 years in a row, new iPhones brought new gray aluminum finishes. A lighter chronicle of space gray done a entrance with a iPhone 6 and 6 Plus in September 2014. The same shade again extended to a new iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 a month later. This time around, existent iPads would continue to be sole alongside a new inclination in a original, darker shade of space gray. 

While Apple didn’t note a pointed tone change onstage or on their website, “space gray 2” would fast turn a many common shade on Apple products going forward. In Nov 2014, tone matched Apple store present cards were expelled that were identical in coming to a new finish. 

The initial Mac expelled in space gray, a 12-inch MacBook, followed in Mar 2015. In Sep of a same year came a iPhone 6s and 6s Plus, a strange iPad Pro, a iPad mini 4, and a new aluminum Lightning dock for charging iOS devices. All of these products common a space gray 2 finish.Around a same time, Apple reopened their association store during 1 Infinite Loop in Cupertino after poignant renovations. A streamlined selection of merchandise disdainful to a campus plcae was offered, including tone matched Apple-branded pens in a same lighter space gray.

For 2016, both a iPhone SE and 9.7-inch iPad Pro were expelled in space gray 2. While a SE’s pattern denunciation was mostly shared with that of a iPhone 5s, it was a initial time a lighter space gray finish was constructed on a 4-inch iPhone. In October 2016, a MacBook Pro line assimilated a 12-inch MacBook and adopted space gray 2. All successive MacBooks have remained unchanging in color.

In 2017, a usually new inclination expelled in space gray 2 were iPads. The 9.7-inch iPad, and both new models of iPad Pro – 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch – common a shade. As of Apr 2018, this year’s 9.7-inch iPad is a usually product to join a space gray 2 family.

There was also one indication of Beats headphones constructed in a shade of space gray tighten in coming to space gray 2, this time underneath Apple’s guidance. The Beats Solo2 Wireless interconnected good alongside a iPhone 6 and 6s families, and were sole until a launch of a Beats Solo3 Wireless in 2016.Space Gray 3

Apple’s Sep 2014 keynote curiously introduced dual graphic shades of space gray marketed underneath a same name. The second, darker than a strange space gray, appears identical to line-up though a blue cast. We’ll call it space gray 3. The strange Apple Watch Sport was a initial device constructed in a color, an outlier in Apple’s product line until Jul 2015, when a 6th-generation iPod touch was introduced. The existent iPod nano and trifle were also rested during a same time, creation them a usually dual inclination ever constructed in 3 opposite gray finishes. Reader Alex noted that Apple silently tweaked a finish on a strange space gray Apple Watch several months into prolongation after issues with a case’s Apple trademark “disappearing.”

Every aluminum Apple Watch given a strange – Series 1, 2, and 3 – have been constructed in space gray 3. A video from DetroitBORG following Apple’s iPod modernise compares a colors:

As of publication, a newest family of products to boat with a space gray 3 finish is a iMac Pro and a accessories. After a mechanism was expelled in Dec 2017, there was instant demand for a relating Magic Mouse, Keyboard, and Trackpad, that creatively were not sole separately. Prices for a accessories on eBay quickly soared, until Apple eventually began offering a products away following their Mar preparation event. 

Perhaps one reason Apple primarily chose to shorten accessibility of a accessories was given they don’t technically compare with other space gray Macs. Both a MacBook and MacBook Pro are significantly lighter when compared side-by-side. Apple also sells a special space gray 3 VESA Mount Adapter Kit for a iMac Pro. Space Gray 3A 3B

The constellation of space gray products in Apple’s understandable star stretched significantly final fall, when dual variations of a space gray 3 finish were released. The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus aluminum frames both share a same shade of gray used on aluminum Apple Watches and a iMac Pro, though a backs of a inclination introduced space gray to potion for a really initial time. We’ll call this finish space gray 3A. The iPhone X took a identical proceed with a singular demeanour of a own. While a behind potion tone is unchanging with a iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, a phone’s immaculate steel support uses a finish never seen before. The tone is really identical to a space black Apple Watch, (we’ll get to that in a moment) though is lighter and reduction opaque. We’ll call this finish space gray 3B. Space Gray 4

Space gray altered wavelengths in Jun 2017 when a HomePod was announced. The intelligent orator is Apple’s initial product to use a fabric interpretation of space gray. While HomePod’s proclamation came before to fall’s iPhone lineup, a tone isn’t derivative of any products preceding it, so we’ll call it space gray 4. 

Every Apple product constructed in space gray as of Apr 2018, cataloged. (Click for full distance image.)

Dark Matter

Alongside space gray, Apple has invariably constructed products in several other darker satellite finishes. Since a strange Apple Watch, space black has been a reward tone offering on a immaculate steel model. Silvery and reflective, a finish uses a diamond-like CO covering for additional insurgency opposite scratching and wear. Both a Milanese Loop and Link Bracelet are also offering in space black. New for a Apple Watch Edition in 2017 was a gray ceramic model, fasten a strange white casing. 

Most identical to space black was a contemplative and puzzling discriminating aspect of 2013’s Mac Pro. Apple’s selling denunciation and introduction display never gave an central name to this “pro black.”

The iPhone 7 line also experimented with dual singular tone options. Not offering in space gray during all, Apple opted for an wholly matte black anodized surrounding instead, suggestive of comparison iPods. A relating black dock coincided.

Initially singular to a aloft ability indication of a iPhone 7 and 7 Plus was jet black, a rarely discriminating finish that Apple pronounced was achieved by a nine-step process. As with a line-up iPhone 5, customers noted that jet black iPhones fast amassed “micro abrasions” during normal use. Apple hasn’t used a jet black finish on any new products given a iPhone 7, and it’s not transparent if micro abrasions were a contributing factor. 


It’s critical to keep in mind that space gray is a selling title, not systematic terminology. Just like iSight, that was creatively a name of an outmost video conferencing camera for Macs and after referenced a iPhone’s camera system, space gray can meant whatever Apple chooses. Customers eventually select their device colors from photos, by recommendations from friends, or after saying a products in chairman – not given they’re constant to a space gray name. 

There’s a good possibility we’ll see space gray continue to change in a future, as changing styles, production processes, materials, and a preferences of Apple’s pattern group continue to evolve.

Special interjection to DetroitBORG for assistance comparing space gray products.

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