White iPhone 4 Delayed Again: Probably Not Redesigning Antenna

Apple’s statement on the white iPhone 4 released on July 23rd:

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.

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Kevin Tofel in Apple’s White iPhone Delay a Chance for Antenna Redesign:

If anything, I suspect that Apple is tweaking the antenna design or finding some non-bumper solution to improve the device signal in areas of marginal coverage.

I don’t think so. If Apple did introduce an antenna-modified white iPhone 4 that would undermine everything the company has attempted to do so far regarding “antennagate.” According to Apple the external antenna design is an overall improvement from that of previous iPhones. Unfortunately, because of the external design signal attenuation when held can be more dramatic than internal antenna designs. There is nothing inherently flawed about the design according to Apple as the entire smartphone industry is finding ways to overcome this challenge. Apple has even created a page titled “Smartphone Antenna Performance” to showcase signal attenuation on the BlackBerry Bold 9700, HTC Droid Eris*, Motorola Droid X, Nokia N97 mini, Samsung Omnia II and even the iPhone 3GS.

If Apple were to redesign the antenna on the white iPhone 4 there would be black iPhone 4 users demanding a full refund regardless of when they purchased it because they were sold a defective product. That would be a PR nightmare. The free Bumper program wasn’t pleasant for Apple either.

Engadget’s Richard Lai in “White iPhone 4 delay: the challenges faced by Apple’s glass supplier” suggests:

… the factory’s still working out the perfect combination of paint thickness and opacity — the former to ensure the next sub-contractor has enough clearance for the digitizer overlay, and the latter for the absolute whiteness that Jony Ive and co. strive for.

I think Lai’s thinking is closer to the truth. The reason why the white in the white iPhone 4 needs to be much better than previous white iPhones is simply because expectations are stratospheric.

* One thing that struck me about the location of the antennas was that all of them were located on the bottom of the smartphone. Except for one: HTC Droid Eris. I wouldn’t want to hold up the HTC Droid Eris to my head and have a long conversation.