Apple's white iPhone 4 could finally make an appearance in spring 2011, according to an image shot by blog 9to5Mac.
That photograph depicts "some of the new signage going up in Apple Stores around the country," according to the blog's Dec. 4 posting. That signage includes, in small type, "The white iPhone 4 will be available Spring 2011."
If that information holds true, it will settle long-running questions about the white iPhone 4, which has faced numerous delays over the past few quarters. In October, days after an Apple spokesperson suggested the device would release sometime in spring 2011, it disappeared from the company's online store-sparking rampant speculation that Apple had killed the option altogether.
The nature of the white iPhone 4's manufacturing difficulties remains a tightly guarded secret by Apple. Also in October, "a source with connections at Apple" told the blog Cult of Mac that ambient light leaked into the white iPhone 4's case, hampering the device's ability to take "accurate pictures." That flaw's last-minute discovery, the blog continued, had led to delays as Apple attempted to isolate the camera sensor.
The iPhone 4's body incorporates two panes of chemically strengthened aluminoscilicate glass, rimmed by a stainless-steel band. Other sources have attributed Apple's delay to issues with whitening that glass to the desired thickness and opacity.
According to Leander Kahney's Inside Steve's Brain, Apple's occasional woes with manufacturing aesthetics extend back to at least the first iMac.
"To make the iMac classy instead of chintzy, the team decided to make the computer's shell transparent," Kahney wrote in the book, which describes Apple's comeback in the late 1990s. "But, initially, they encountered problems with spotting and streaking-the clear plastic cases weren't coming off the production line uniformly clear."
The Apple team eventually visited a candy factory, "where they learned about [the] mass-production tinting process" that makes confections a uniform color, and used some of those ideas to fix their issue.
Issues with the white iPhone 4 aside, the smartphone's standard edition continues to sell in massive quantities. Apple reported shipments of some 14.1 million iPhones in the most recent quarter, a year-over-year increase of 91 percent.
As the end of 2010 approaches, rumors of Apple's next-generation iPhone have already begun. The expectation among many analysts is that the device will break AT&T's exclusive carrier hold in the United States and move onto Verizon early next year. Speculation also abounds about possible new features, including 3G-enabled FaceTime-Apple's video conferencing application-and upgraded software and hardware.