'Military friendly' camera-free iPhone goes on sale in Singapore

Singapore carrier M1 is offering 'camera free' iPhones on their website, marketed for military and government personnel banned from using smartphones with cameras.

Singapore mobile carrier M1 has begun offering camera-free iPhones on its website, sister site CNET Asia reports.

The phones are designed and marketed for subscribers who cannot use a smartphone with a camera --- such as military and government personnel.

Singapore's Defense Ministry has released guidelines for personnel about the use of smartphones for security reasons, and smartphone carriers were required to present certifications to ensure their devices had been approved.

Camera phones were banned in Singapore's military stations after photos of training activities were posted online in 2007.

Pages advertising the new 'camera-free' iPhone's were uncovered last week, but they were subsequently pulled. Now the devices are being advertised officially and come with a certificate to prove the device has been prepared for use in 'no camera zones'.

These devices will put back buyers a further $38 over their retail price, bundled with a two-year plan from the operator.

Unfortunately, the devices void Apple's official warranty. Buyers will have to purchase a third-party warranty plan to use the phone, as the vendor must remove the camera manually before being sold on.

According to M1, the camera is removed completely instead of disabled or covered, so they "may not be re-installed."

"The phones are targeted at military personnel but anyone can buy them if they want to," an M1 spokesperson said.

As many young men are required to finish two years mandatory military service, the camera-less iPhone gives them the option to keep up with current technology without worrying about violating the restrictions in military bases.

The other two major operators in Singapore, SingTel and StarHub are both reportedly in talks to offer their own 'camera-free' services, but were unable to give any further details at the time of publication.

M1 has definitely identified a void in the market. Considering that having a high quality camera in a smartphone is a major selling point, it seems strange to think of advertising them as 'camera-free'.

It also shows how far modern smartphones have come that services are required to physically remove the camera, as no iPhone's are available without a camera already.