For AOL News

Any old beatnik can throw on the black and call himself “hip,” but white requires a special brand of cool.            

Think White Album. Think Tom Wolfe. Think iPhone.

That last one may require a little patience.

The iPhone comes in black, but Apple has been promising a white model since early last summer when it released the iPhone 4.

Last fall, bloggers teased Apple fans with photos of snow-white iPhones and indicators that they were ready for order, a rumor Apple quickly squelched.

All winter tech writers, including those at AOL’s Engadget, have been jabbering about the new color’s possible debut. White-watchers noted in February that Canadian retailer The Source and a Best Buy in Houston had cleared shelf space for white models.

Philip Schiller, Apple’s marketing head, kept the buzz alive this week, promising a release in the next few months.

In response to a Twitter query from Eric Anderson, a 16-year-old from Albuquerque, Schiller tweeted, “The white phone will be available this spring (and it is a beauty!).”

Why the delay?

What’s so difficult about white?

Apple released a simple statement, widely quoted, noting only that the white models were “more challenging to manufacture than we originally expected.”

Speaking to Engadget, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak cited issues with phone’s photo function, but later said he had no official knowledge of the source of the problem.

Why the hype?

What’s so different about white?

iPhone user Phi Sanders, a software engineer with Vital Source in Raleigh, N.C., said for him, white is the more aesthetically pleasing option. Plus all the waiting has created an aura of privilege around possessing it.

“Fashion and exclusivity,” he told AOL News; other than that, no difference. “Same as a designer bag holds stuff no better than one from Target,” he said.

Sanders owns the current model, a black iPhone 4. While he wouldn’t switch to a white 4 simply to please his inner aesthete, he would be tempted if Schiller’s promised spring release turned out to be not only white, but also a newer model, the longed-for iPhone 5.

“A fashionably white five would motivate me to upgrade,” he said.