Sorry, we couldn't wait -- having spent 11 hours on the streets waiting for the iPhone 4, it's only natural to give our precious new toy some extra special care. With the help of iFixit's teardown guide, we decided to take the plunge with our steaming hot Chinese delivery -- a white front cover (with a shiny proximity sensor area above the earpiece), a white back cover (with "XXXXX" marked as the model number, ergo a prototype), and a Retina Display unit. Alas, there weren't any white buttons in stock at the time, but let's pretend this black-and-white combo is the new cool. Read on to find out how the surgery went.
P.S. -- We've had many readers asking where we got the parts, but the link's already in the post. Knowing some Chinese helps, too.
Update: we caved in and unboxed our iPhone 4 dock for a few more shots. It's worth noting that our prototype white covers don't quite match the dock's whiteness -- we'd say the covers look a touch warmer and darker. Knowing how picky Jony Ive is with colors, we're guessing Apple's buying time to get the paint job right.
Update 2: we acquired a broken black back plate and managed to fit its lens cover onto our white one. Win.%Gallery-96373%
Replacing the back cover is hardly a challenge -- just remove the two screws at the bottom and then slide the cover up, but to get to the front cover you'll need to take out most of the components. We'll be honest with you: dissecting a brand new toy isn't exactly the most pleasant experience in the world. Even with a brilliant teardown guide, there'll always be somewhere that requires super delicate fiddling. For instance, we struggled with removing the battery and the front cover due to some nasty double-sided tape, so we had to poke around extra carefully to avoid any damage. At one point, we spent about 20 minutes wondering why the logic board wouldn't go back in, only to realize that a well-disguised screw was in the way. Other than that, we'd say this was a pretty straightforward mod (so long as you keep track of all your screws, of course).
Once fitted, we were saddened to find out that our white covers weren't complete -- the front one's missing an earpiece grill, whereas the back cover lacks a lens cover and a LED diffuser. We did consider cannibalizing the original black covers, but the small parts needed were strongly glued on. Ah well, considering the mod's in full working order (discounting the infamous antenna issue), we'll make do with this and avoid touching the lens. Now, where do we sign up for eBay?