The unbearable lightness of whiteness

Hey, kids, didya hear the news? Only ten months behind schedule, Apple shipped the iPhone 4 Caucasian Edition into the waiting arms of Anglophiles everywhere. The Man can finally rejoice. And Stevie Wonder and Paul McCartney can regroup for touching remix of "Ebony & Ivory." Or Feist can cover it. Whatever.

Personally, I don’t know why Apple bothered with the white iPhone 4. Yes, previous editions of the iPhone came in white. At least I saw them on the order page at Apple.com. I have no idea if I’ve ever seen one in the wild because I’ve literally only seen three people pull out an iPhone that wasn’t in a case. And those three were black. Of course, in previous incarnations, the iPhone’s white bits (ooh, naughty!) were only on the back and less prone to be displayed proudly, prominently or p-wordily. The iPhone 4, on the other hand, features color (in a sense) on the front face so people could instantly tell if you were a Snake Eyes or Storm Shadow kind of nerd.

Or at least they would have if Apple’s supplier hadn’t botched the white version’s production. For all of us who have gladly forgotten, the initial white iPhone 4s suffered from what is known in the business as a crappy paint job. A real Earl Scheib special. Uneven finish. Light leakage. And a shade that some said was more ecru than pure Fox bottom. So Apple shipped only the black version last summer, promising to get the white phone into waiting Klan members’ hands (you knew that joke was coming, right?) as soon as possible. Gartner estimated that Apple lost upwards of 16 sales due to this delay.

Ten months later, Apple has managed to make the MacBook Air more gaseous, fill the MacBook Pro with Sandiness, release a CDMA iPhone, and overtake Microsoft in both revenue and profit for a quarter. And now they have a white iPhone 4. Just in time to probably announce the iPhone 5. Huzzah!

At least Apple had the good sense, and sense of humor, to acknowledge the chronological inanity of the ordeal: It announced the white iPhone 4’s arrival on its website with a single word, "Finally." Unfortunately, that should’ve been "Finally.*" Because it turns out the white iPhone 4 is not simply a pasty twin of its black brother. No, it’s thicker. Obviously thicker. By 0.2 mm. Enough to notice just by picking it up and enough, as MacRumors reported, to cause issues with some tight-fitting slider-style cases. Ruh-roh.

Why the added thickness? Presumably to keep people distracted from the iPhone location tracking non-issue. But that’s just a guess based upon a conspiracy I overhead from a good source in my brain. Otherwise, those in the know aren’t telling just yet. Or, at the very least, they aren’t telling those who turn up in my Google searches.

But to me, it’s a rather silly, meh issue for a rather silly, meh product. I mean, the white iPhone 4 looks nice, but was it worth the 10-month wait? Probably not. Either it became Jony Ives’ Moby Dick, or it’s an indication that the iPhone 5 will have the same form factor as the 4 and Apple didn’t want to disappoint the Norse yet again.

Now, for the love of Job (the biblical one), can we get some exciting Apple news going? Where are the Sandy Bridge iMacs or Mac Pros? Confirmation of an A5-sporting iPhone 5? More details on the new Final Cut Suite? Info about OS X Lion that isn’t just pointing out iOS touches that seem destined to annoy? An actual Apple TV?

Now is the springtime of my discontent. I want some power, boys. Preferably with a holographic coating that shifts from black to white at the simple execution of an eight-fingered multitouch gesture.

Later,

Fox

Comments closed
    • ltcommander.data
    • 9 years ago

    [url<]http://www.appleinsider.com/articles/11/05/01/preliminary_white_iphone_4_teardowns_reveal_modified_lens_proximity_sensor.html[/url<] Mentioned at the end of the article, apparently the white iPhone 4 is doing very well in Asia, perhaps due to a cultural preference for the white color over black. It's been selling out in Hong Kong and mainland China. Certainly given the potential of the region, particularly China, if launching different color of the existing iPhone 4 gives sufficient momentum to make additional inroads, its well worth doing now rather than waiting for the iPhone 5. Particularly, because iPhone launches in China are typically weeks if not a month or two behind the first launch in America. So an iPhone 5 launch in September in America, could mean an October launch in China, which gives a white iPhone 4 a solid 6 months on the market which is not insignificant. Plus, Apple may consider keeping the color options when they move the iPhone 4 down to the lower $99 price point once the iPhone 5 launches, which gives the white iPhone an additional year of life. Being late doesn't necessarily mean t white iPhone 4's lifespan will be brief and unnecessary.

    • glynor
    • 9 years ago

    Echo chamber at its best… Photos like that are a terrible way to try to judge thickness.

    [url=http://news.consumerreports.org/electronics/2011/05/apples-white-iphone-is-not-thicker-than-black-version.html<]Consumer Reports actually tested it[/url<] with high-precision calipers and says "not true" (apparently agreeing with [url=http://www.9to5mac.com/64682/phil-schiller-white-iphone-isnt-thicker-dont-believe-all-the-junk-that-you-read/<]Phil Schiller[/url<]).

      • indeego
      • 9 years ago

      Someone is lying or they have a different manufacturing set? The pictures on multiple sites show a difference.

      [i<]"Unfortunately, the calipers used, which report to the thousandth of an inch, aren't sensitive enough to measure a difference of .787 mils, a difference which can effect rigid cases."[/i<] - Consumerist comment

        • glynor
        • 9 years ago

        I agree, in some cases, the pictures do seem to tell a different tale. I don’t know that the pictures tell the full story. They certainly might, but it also might not be that simple.

        For example, there is the possibility of a bit of an [url=http://lmgtfy.com/?q=irradiation+illusion<]optical illusion[/url<] impact. That doesn't explain everything (like Engadget's picture), but it might exaggerate the appearance of any minute differences. Also, are the black iPhones used in the pictures all brand new, or are they old one that have been used and abused for months? I don't know at all, but it certainly [i<]could[/i<] be that the glass settles, glue hardens, and the phone actually gets minutely thinner after a few weeks or months of use. Of course, it could also just be that the white one is thicker by an incredibly small margin. Or the tolerances on the first runs of the devices, or of devices that come from different manufacturing lines at different times, just aren't quite that tight. The stories I've read about this are talking about a tiny fraction of a millimeter (a decimal place beyond what is even officially quoted in the specs by Apple). I don't know. I think the media references to existing cases not fitting are completely absurd and factually vacuous. They all say essentially: "...but it could impact some case designs. All of the ones we tested fit okay, but you know, it could." If some case manufacturer really built it to those kind of tolerances, then they deserve what they get, and they'll have to redesign their cases. For everyone else, it'll be a non-issue. Oh, and if you already have a case because you have a black iPhone and you went out and bought a white one? You also deserve what you get.

          • glynor
          • 9 years ago

          Also, this: [url<]http://www.leancrew.com/all-this/2011/04/photo-advice-and-a-plea-for-tolerance/[/url<]

            • indeego
            • 9 years ago

            His picture to show an example of the phones being different is terrible, however, they look the exact same to me in his “distorted example.”

            My point above is that if the phones settle or are different then it’s a significant issue in terms of cases/peripherals. Phones shell should not warp to that degree.

            If the photos are all lies, then hopefully those reporters are raked.

            I also have issues with CR testing over the home button and in inches. That is sloppy work considering their background. (I’ve always found their tech reporting fairly bad however.)

    • nate011
    • 9 years ago

    I would assume the thickness was related something to this. I read this article on the day it came out. It seems they have talked about this since day 1 of the launch.

    “The launch of the white iPhone 4 was delayed for nine months because of a lack of UV protection, according to Apple.

    Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller told All Things Digital that similar to humans, especially those with fair skin, white iPhones need protection from the sun’s ultraviolet rays.

    “It was challenging. It’s not as simple as making something white. There’s a lot more that goes into both the material science of it-how it holds up over time, but also in how it all works with the sensors,” Schiller said.

    The mention of the sensors also suggests that the camera was particularly problematic. Steve Wozniak speculated back in January that the camera could have been the major issue.
    He said that if the white paint on the glass back of the iPhone 4 wasn’t thick enough, it could let too much light into the camera’s sensor when photographs were taken with the flash. Judging by Schiller’s comments, it seems as if sunlight was also enough to spoil photographs taken on the white iPhone 4 before the problem was resolved.”

    • sparkman
    • 9 years ago

    Funny blog, but more color options are better. I’m surprised they don’t make a pink model yet. Many ladies would buy them like crazy.

    Nice to see the iPhone 4 has broken out of the [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Ford#Model_T<]Model T[/url<] color palette.

    • potatochobit
    • 9 years ago

    my 3GS contract expires in the coming month so the wait was fine
    but now I may wait for the iphone 5 due to rumors

    I hate how apple releases products right before releasing products, especially with a significant hardware change
    I am displeased with how they keep changing hardware making my earlier model unibody macbook pro obsolete and it is only two years old

      • Squeazle
      • 9 years ago

      I know. Damn progress.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        that’s not really “progress”, it’s planned obsolescence. apple takes the updates to a new level vs other OEM’s.

          • End User
          • 9 years ago

          So Apples introduction of Sandy Bridge is “planned obsolescence” while their competitions use of Sandy Bridge is “progress”?

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            No, i’d say that this is probably one of the better updates.

            They do take a condescending attitude to existing users though. THEY RIDICULED ON STAGE THE IPHONE 3G WHEN THE 3GS CAME OUT. ON STAGE. SAYING IT SUCKED. that’s a little bit ballsy.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            Phil Schiller was very respectful of the 3G when he announced the 3GS [url<]http://goo.gl/VuI6l[/url<] "To call the iPhone 3G a hit I think would be the understatement of the year."

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            you’re right, i’ll have to see what i was thinking of….

          • Squeazle
          • 9 years ago

          Truth. However, it’s only obsolete when you make the effort to care about new features. They haven’t put a kill-by-date chip in their stuff yet (might be one for the suggestion box) so it’s not like the old stuff is completely unusable. Just not as great as the next generation.

      • End User
      • 9 years ago

      Any two year old laptop is obsolete.

      Apple product update timings are easy to track (for the most part): [url<]http://buyersguide.macrumors.com/[/url<]

        • anotherengineer
        • 9 years ago

        Wow, I guess my wife’s 9 yr old laptop is super-epic-uber obsolete.

        Although it still works and fills her needs.

          • sweatshopking
          • 9 years ago

          BLASPHEMY. UPGRADE IMMEDIATELY.

            • anotherengineer
            • 9 years ago

            Too poor.

            She is on EI due to extended sick leave from pregnancy and still 4.5 months to go and then another yr of EI mat leave 😐

            Should be able to afford one in 2 years from now. If it dies before then she can use my desktop or the HTPC.

            edit : its too old to upgrade lol have to buy a whole new one

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            I get you bro. if it works, no reason to replace. that would be stupid.

      • Cuhulin
      • 9 years ago

      I suspect that introducing the white iphone 4 now is a tacit confirmation that the iphone 5 will release a little later than we would ordinarily expect (fall rather than summer).

        • glynor
        • 9 years ago

        Agreed. Gruber was right with his iPad 3/HD prediction reasoning, he just got the device wrong. They’re going to combine the iPhone and iPod announcements going forward, because the iPod launches are boring now (aka the sales keep declining), and it puts the new iPhone launch better aligned with the Q4 spending orgy.

        It’ll be September. If it was June/July, they’d have never done this.

      • NeelyCam
      • 9 years ago

      Wait for iPhone5; patience is a virtue, and dual-cores are goodness.

      Or get an Atrix.

    • DancinJack
    • 9 years ago

    I feel like the white iPhone is for girlz. Am I the only one? A white phone just seems feminine to me.

      • demani
      • 9 years ago

      It does to me as well, but I don’t think black is all that (I replaced my back panel with a metal plate instead of keeping the black glass). But my wife will be happy when it’s time for her to upgrade to the iPhone 6.

      • ShadowTiger
      • 9 years ago

      I think the feeling you are describing is a combination of optical illusions, social construction, and psychological mis-attribution.

      its perfectly normal… but pretty silly IMO.

      • travbrad
      • 9 years ago

      I hear using it will give you cooties too.

      • axeman
      • 9 years ago

      The black iphone is too emo for me.

    • sweatshopking
    • 9 years ago

    You ARE funny jason. it’s too bad you waste it in the mac world. Personally, i’d never buy another iOS device, white or otherwise, but i know a few zealots who have been waiting.

      • DancinJack
      • 9 years ago

      In seven months when development has completely shut down for WP7, due to lack of interest beside anyone but Microsoft, your song will change.

        • sweatshopking
        • 9 years ago

        I doubt it. i’ll keep using this thing until it dies. I’m particular enough, and cheap enough, that I only buy things I know I want. and I don’t like iOS. i wouldn’t pay a dime for it. I hate the way it looks. I abhor itunes. can’t stand it. i’d rather have nothing, which i’ve done for years, than have an iOS device. if wp7 dies, then i’ll be back with no device.

          • glacius555
          • 9 years ago

          I partially subscribe to your point of view. Not that I am an iOS hater-I had a 3GS for more than a year- but I am more into “simple looks” of WP7. And yes, I’d be glad if it was possible to download a stripped version of iTunes for backup/update purposes only. I am quite glad using foobar2000 to convert my FLACs, if I need to pack the phone with music.

          Incidentally, lower interest from developers rendered WP7 phones quite cheap, so I bought one with a 50% discount, unlocked..

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            I’m personally a huge fan of the zune software. it’s simply unmatched. that’s probably the biggest draw for me.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            And that is why you fail.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            and what is why i fail? I assume you’re saying I fail because i like the zune software, which is silly. many reviewers love it, and since you’re incapable of actually coming up with something, i’ll assume you have nothing to contribute. Which will likely be pretty close to accurate.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            “if wp7 dies, then i’ll be back with no device.”

            So you would deprive yourself of music/entertainment/communication because of your allegiance to an OS/brand/product? That is a fail in my books.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            no, i’d “deprive” myself of suffering through a device i find to be more work then it’s worth. Using itunes is a CHORE. to me, it’s not worth the work involved, for the small amount of satisfaction the device brings. it’s not about allegiance, it’s about what works for me, and what doesn’t. Why don’t you switch back to windows 95? cause it’s a pain in the ass. you’d probably rather find something else to do than use that old ass computer. it’s more trouble then it’s worth. Same thing.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            Who said anything about iTunes? There are other options out there.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            I SAID about itunes.

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            Buy something that DOES NOT USE iTunes.

            • no51
            • 9 years ago

            He did, so what are you complaining about?

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            Did you read the thread?

            • no51
            • 9 years ago

            Yes, and it went something like this:
            SSK: I like my WP7 phone. I like Zune.
            EU: U DUMB 4 BUYING MICRO$UCK. WP7 GONNA DIE SOON CUZ I SED SO.
            SSK: I find the Zune user experience to be superior to anything I’ve tried. I really don’t like itunes.
            EU: THAN DONT USE ITOONS

            • End User
            • 9 years ago

            Very nicely done. Go all immature, miss the key point AGAIN and make up stuff.

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            Who made up anything? Why is he immature? I think it’s a pretty reasonable recap. You seem to be missing the key point. I have device that works for what i want. iOS doesnt. it’s as simple as that, but for some reason you’re unable to recognize it.

            It seems people agree, as his post is a +5

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            His key point:

            [quote<]So you would deprive yourself of music/entertainment/communication because of your allegiance to an OS/brand/product? That is a fail in my books.[/quote<] Based on everything else he said, he maybe be suggesting something that doesn't tie you to a specific media/entertainment management software, like Android.

          • BobbinThreadbare
          • 9 years ago

          You could go with Android

            • sweatshopking
            • 9 years ago

            I’ve used android, but to me, it’s just not as nice. The default is like an iOS ripoff, only less smooth, and i know there are other launchers out there, but i’ve used a few, and they always seem to be buggy. I know there are other alternatives that aren’t so buggy, it just seems to be still kinda beta’ish. I haven’t used it sine 2.1, so that might have changed.

            • NeelyCam
            • 9 years ago

            [quote<]it just seems to be still kinda beta'ish.[/quote<] .. just like my Windows-based PCs. With Android I feel right at home.

    • cynan
    • 9 years ago

    Raggy? Raggy is rhat you?

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