Apple says the white iPhone 4 will hit stores at the end of July. Unfortunately, reports of production issues are making the date sound less likely. Even if the white iPhone 4 does hit stores or pre-ordering commences this month, quantities are going to be limited due to pent-up demand and slow manufacturing.
The glass back featured on the iPhone 4 as well as the white bezel design may be causing Apple more headaches than it had bargained for thanks to a difficult manufacturing process and high standards for the finished product. Chinese supplier Lens Technology is having trouble getting the right level of paint thickness and opacity for Apple's specifications.
The paint can't be too thick or the digitizer overlay won't fit. Make the white paint too thin and the finished product doesn't appear solid white. Lens Technology, even when they finally get the right look going on the bezel and back, can only meet half of Apple's quantity demands for the white iPhone 4 glass. Aside from perfecting the screen-printing process, it takes 20 minutes for a machine to cut one piece of glass.
Developing and manufacturing the iPhone 4 glass is an intense process, regardless whether the bezel and back are black or white. Lens Technology explained that the glass is sourced from Europe and Japan, then it must be cut, fine-milled with CNC machines, sanded, polished, strengthened, cleaned, coated, screen-printed, baked, treated with anti-shatter coat, assembled and packaged. Too bad all it takes is one careless moment to send the whole thing to pieces.iPhone 4 shoppers were surprised on launch day when the white iPhone 4 was unavailable for pre-order or in stores. All of the retailers have been limited to black iPhone 4 models, and Apple has sold over three million units in just three weeks. There's currently a wait time of three weeks for a black iPhone 4 purchased on Apple's web site.
Apple released a statement in June that still sums up the current state of affairs:
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White models of Apple's new iPhone 4 have proven more challenging to manufacture than expected, and as a result they will not be available until the second half of July.