Here's a real Apple leak for you

White iPhone delays caused by design flaw that washes out pictures, source tells Cult of Mac

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If true, this bit of information from a popular Apple blog sheds a lot of light (pun intended) on the mystery surrounding the now thrice-postponed release of the company's long-anticipated white iPhone 4.

From the Cult of Mac blog (with a h/t to VentureBeat):

The white iPhone 4 has been delayed because it can’t take good pictures, a source with connections at Apple tells me. ("Me" being Cult of Mac's Leander Kahney)

The white case leaks light back in — especially when the flash is used to take pictures.

On Tuesday, Apple said the white iPhone has been delayed until next spring.

This is the third time the white iPhone has been pushed back: first to July, then the end of the year and now to next spring.

Once again, Apple didn’t explain the delay. In the past, the company has said the white iPhone was “more challenging to manufacture than we originally expected.”

As any amateur photographer knows, light can be your friend or arch enemy. Usually the problems emanate from too much backlight (such as when the subjects are standing in front of a window). In this case, it's the light leaking into the camera that's the culprit, Cult of Mac's source explains. The light that penetrates through the white smartphone's semi-translucent case washes out pictures.

Fortunately for Apple, the flaw was discovered in the final stages of testing. Had the company tried to hold to its end-of-year release and shipped the handset anyway, it might have sparked an even bigger controversy than last summer's "antennagate," in which Apple was bombarded with complaints about dropped calls stemming from the black iPhone 4's poorly functioning antenna.

This led to a rare PR stumble for Apple, in which a seemingly peeved CEO Steve Jobs first dismissed the signal-dropping snafu as a "non-issue," claiming that all smartphones have the same antenna problem (which would make it not a non-issue, if you ask me). Soon after Jobs apologized for the reception flaw and offered iPhone users free bumper cases for a limited time.

It'll be interesting to see if Apple finally can deliver a white iPhone 4 without the washout woes. But it looks like we'll have to wait until next spring -- or later -- to find out.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks.

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