Singapore: iPhone Without Camera for Sale? Telcos Plan to Launch Device Soon
Jermyn Chow – Straits Times Indonesia
The Apple iPhone, with its camera removed, will soon be sold by the three telcos in Singapore, in a development that will largely benefit smartphone-toting military personnel, who are barred from using image-capturing devices in army camps.
In fact, for all of half a day on Thursday, the smallest telco in Singapore, M1, posted on its website its price list for the no-camera version of the iPhone 4S handset.
By evening, however, the telco had taken down the price plans.
When its advertisement was live online, the 64-gigabyte model was going for more than $900 with a fresh two-year contract.
M1 declined to elaborate on this price tag when contacted, but its ad implied that the price included the cost of removing the camera.
It did not say whether the camera could be re-installed in the handset some time down the road.
Its website even had a link for those wishing to order its no-camera models.
The online specifications indicated that a no-camera iPhone weighed in at 137g, the same as one with a camera.
The offer triggered off some online chatter, with some asking why anyone would pay money to buy an iPhone without a camera. Some did note, however, that no-camera iPhones would suit career soldiers.
In responding to queries from The Straits Times, an M1 spokesman would only say that the link ‘has been removed as we are making some adjustments to this service’.
When contacted, the other two telcos in Singapore – SingTel and StarHub – would not disclose when they would launch non-camera iPhones.
They would only say they were in talks with the Defense Ministry (Mindef) to offer smartphones without cameras.
The availability of no-camera models will give an option to the growing number of people using the iPhone, all models of which come with cameras.
Telco industry observers estimate that nearly half the smartphone users in Singapore are iPhone users.
Currently, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) servicemen are allowed to take only no-camera smartphones into camp. Because of this, many own two phones – one for use in the camp and another outside.
Those with no-camera smartphones are able to tap into the Wi-Fi networks, now covering more camps, to surf the Internet.
Following a year-long review, Mindef recently issued guidelines to its servicemen on the use of such smartphones.
It is understood that servicemen with these phones must show a certificate to prove that their handsets were modified by any one of the local telcos.
Last September, Mindef spokesman Desmond Tan told The Straits Times that Mindef and the SAF were ‘exploring ways to allow our personnel to use smartphones while maintaining our current security policy on disallowing personal image-capturing devices to be used on Mindef/SAF premises’.
Under a Mindef in-house trial, selected commanders and operational personnel were asked to test whether the security measures on their premises were robust enough to deal with the modified smartphones that could potentially pose security risks.
It is understood that some businesses are charging about $200 to remove cameras from smartphones without authority from Mindef or the SAF.
There is one drawback to tinkering with the iPhone: The warranty on the handset provided by Apple will be voided.
Reprinted courtesy of Straits Times Indonesia. To subscribe to
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