What’s holding up the white Apple iPhone?
Apple-philes waiting breathlessly for the white iPhone 4 will need to hang on even longer before they …well, wait in line outside their nearest Apple store to get their hands on one.
The company announced on Tuesday it’s delaying the release of the white model again, this time until next spring. It’s the third such delay since the latest version of the popular smartphone was released in June.
“We’re sorry to disappoint customers waiting for the white iPhone again,” Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller told Reuters.
But the question remains: Why is Apple having such difficulty in getting its white iPhone onto shelves? Apple was mum on the subject this time around. Earlier in the year the company explained there was a delay because the white models were “more challenging to manufacture than expected.”
In lieu of a more specific answers from Apple, commentators around the Web have sought out their own. Here’s a selection of possible reasons you won’t be seeing that white iPhone just yet:
Problems with color-matching:
Could it be that Apple is having trouble getting its whites just right? British gadget blog Pocket-lint cites one source as saying the company is having a tough time matching the white color on the handset’s different parts. “Apple is having trouble getting its two suppliers in the Far East to match the white used in the manufacturing of the parts. The white home button color doesn’t match the white front face plate color, it turns out,” the blog states. This explanation would be the most ironic, considering Apple’s long history of producing white products.
Problems with camera’s picture quality:
Earlier in the year, The Street.com reported that a source close to the manufacturing process claimed Apple was having problems with the phone’s backlight seeping out at the edges and through the back of the phone. A related explanation being bandied about is that the white glass allows too much light back into the phone, causing the device’s built-in camera to produce washed-out pictures. “The white iPhone 4 can’t take accurate photographs. The handset’s semi-translucent glass case leaks light in, ruining pictures taken with the internal camera, especially when the built-in flash is used,” a source with connections to Apple told the Cult of Mac blog.
Hold-ups at Apple’s overseas suppliers:
According to AppleInsider, a newspaper report out of China this past summer revealed that Apple’s overseas manufacturers were having trouble hitting the “right balance of paint thickness and opacity, in order to ensure the panel allows enough space for the digitizer overlay, but also gives the level of white that Apple expects the product to have.”
Or, perhaps a more likely explanation is already well-known – the iPhone 4’s antenna problems. Upon its release in June, iPhone 4 users quickly began reporting that network signal strength dropped drastically when they held the device. Apple said it wasn’t aware of the problem prior to the launch, but that didn’t stop the company’s CEO Steve Jobs from handing out free cases that would help alleviate the problem to owners. It’s now known that Apple manufacturers were instructed to make an internal insulation fix to solve the defect. As Scott Moritz at The Street.com writes, presumably Apple would need to halt production temporarily to implement a fix, which could push back the release date.
Demand is too high:
Another possibility is that Apple underestimated just how high the demand for the white handsets would be. That’s one theory that was posited back in June when the first delay was announced. However, one would expect the company to have gotten its manufacturing house in order by now. According to one report, the company’s overseas glass supplier was only able to make 3 iPhone 4 glass panels per hour, a rate it was suggested could only meet half of Apple’s demand for the device.