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Apple delays white iPhone 4 again, launches free-case program

We may see the iPhone 4 on a carrier besides AT&T before we see it in white. This morning, Apple announced its second delay to the white version of its smartphone:

White models of Apple's new iPhone® 4 have continued to be more challenging to manufacture than we originally expected, and as a result they will not be available until later this year. The availability of the more popular iPhone 4 black models is not affected.

The phrasing of that statement--less than a week after Apple chief executive Steve Jobs assured attendees of a press conference that the white model would ship at the end of this month--almost matched a notice posted one month earlier by the Cupertino, Calif., company:

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. The availability of the more popular iPhone 4 black models is not affected.

Who knew it was so difficult to make this thing in a color besides black? Earlier models of the iPhone did come in a choice of black and white (some users of the white iPhone 3GS reported that its color darkened over time), but the iPhone 4's exterior is made out of glass, not metal or plastic. And that apparently complicates matters, as this Ars Technica post explains.

(Have another theory for these delays? Please share it in the comments.)

But why would you want to get any sort of handheld device in white? Ask anybody who's carried around a white iPod for long enough--there isn't a better color to show off every speck and smudge of dirt your hands can leave on the thing. Black, dark gray or anything besides white is the way to go if you don't want to spend every weekend cleaning the thing.

In today's other iPhone 4 news, those of you clamoring for the free case promised by Apple last week can now order one up. But to do so, you'll need to download Apple's free iPhone 4 Case program from the App Store to your iPhone, then use that to select either Apple's "bumper" or a third-party case.

Apple's free-case page also explains how it's handling refunds for bumper buyers. If you bought with a credit card, the company will credit your account automatically (you can check your refund's status online), while those who paid with cash, a check or a gift card will need to bring their receipt to an Apple Store. And if you bought one in AT&T's stores, you'll need to mail in a rebate form.

I can't tell you what the case-ordering process is like--on a review iPhone loaned by Apple, the program reported that "Your iPhone 4 does not qualify for the iPhone 4 Case Program"--but I welcome your reports about it in the comments.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  July 23, 2010; 9:25 AM ET
Categories:  Mobile  
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I heard that the delay is the result of Apple's ever expanding focus on new product categories.

Apple Delays Launch of White iPhone…Announces it will focus on these 4 new products instead.


Posted by: eye95 | July 23, 2010 10:29 AM | Report abuse

The case ordering process was straightforward and painless. The interface of the app is nice. You can click through each case to see more photos before choosing one. The selection is limited to about half-a-dozen cases in clear or black (alas, no colored bumpers). I ordered the clear incase snap case.

Posted by: ShawnDC | July 23, 2010 10:39 AM | Report abuse

White iphones? Perhaps they are being used to soak up oil from the Dalian spill?

Posted by: prokaryote | July 23, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

I think the problem is they don't want to stop the black-exterior-panel-making-line now because of current demand for the black case, and the 20-country-or-so international rollout coming up.

If you change color, that line has to be shut down for a while, with no exterior panels being made for that time.

Posted by: Bitter_Bill | July 23, 2010 11:07 AM | Report abuse

The manufacturing issues brought up are just an excuse for apple to release a new product in a few months that millions will go out and buy. In my opinion, Steve Jobs is just looking to steal some of the thunder from Windows Phone 7, which also releases later in the year (and will be awesome, by the way).

Posted by: kytau | July 23, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

As ShawnDC said, the case ordering process was very simple. The app downloaded quickly; a list of available products was shown, with photo galleries for each one; you make your choice, and complete the order. 3-5 week shipping time for all, with an email notification to be sent once the item is shipped. I also ordered the clear Incase snap case. It'll work until I find a red one I like.

Posted by: leocook | July 23, 2010 1:00 PM | Report abuse

Maybe the delay in the white iPhones is so that they can fix the antenna problem on them before shipping them.

Posted by: Ghak | July 23, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

So I got the email notification that my order is received and will be shipped....August 27! The very last day of the 3-5 week time frame mentioned on the app information. Oh well, it's free.

Posted by: leocook | July 23, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Take a bike ride or play scrabble with your kid or nephew/niece. Maybe even your spouse/partner. Nobody 'needs' an iphone.

Posted by: lostchild1 | July 23, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Ghak is close. Why are bumpers free only until Sept. 30th? If the phones need a bumper, to stop providing them free doesn't make sense. If I buy an iPhone on Oct. 5, can I chose either black or white and will I receive an iPhone 4.1 with a new antenna design which doesn't need bumpers? Because of the uncertainy surounding that Sept. 30 date, I returned my iPhone 4 (iPhone 4.0?) and will await developments.

Posted by: Ponca99 | July 24, 2010 10:13 AM | Report abuse

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