While the first explanation, that the application of white paint makes handling the glass problematic (glue won't stick, etc.), the second explanation is what really rang a bell for me. Here, ladies and gents, is why we don't have a white iPhone 4 today.
The second part of nfs8932's quote from a Gizmodo article about the white iPhone 4's delay reads as follows:
"UPDATE 2: From another reader who cannot disclose their identity:For those of you who are unfamiliar with the term color tolerances (as I was a few minutes ago), it is defined as follows:
'Actually the white on the iPhone is not painted, it is screen printed. I cannot say who I am as Apple does have a non-disclosure in effect for this, but: The color specifications for the white on the new iPhones are just crazy. The tolerances they are trying to achieve with the white really is the cause of the delay. As screen printing goes, it is somewhat controllable, doesn't have the tolerance that Apple is wanting to hold the color specification of the white too. Talk about anal...'"
color tolerance, n – the permissible color difference between sample and specified color (Standard).So the folks at Apple are being exacting about what a successfully whitened white iPhone must look like before a unit is considered not defective. So what's happening over at the white iPhone factory right now is this:
1. A white iPhone faceplate and backing are screenprinted white.
2. The glass pieces go through quality control.
3. The quality control worker compares the color of the glass to a range of acceptable samples.
4. When the sample doesn't meet acceptable tolerance levels, which seems to be the case frequently,the glass is discarded or recycled. It will NOT be used in a phone.
5. The engineers sit there and get pissed when significant numbers of their prints are being returned with instructions to "make it whiter."
It makes sense, doesn't it! If they had to print 10 pieces of glass to get one within the acceptable color range, it would take 20 times as long to manufacture white iPhones as it would to make the same quantity of white ones (2 pieces of glass = 1 phone).
Also, remember back to WWDC, and how it seemed the white iPhone 4s looked a little off-white in the lighting?
A little dingy? That isn't the light!
It's all coming together!
What do you thing guys? Did we solve the great white iPhone mystery? I think we did. Let me know what you think.
Oh, if you're interested, the Gizmodo article is here, and special thanks again to nfs8932! Great find!