To Prevent Upskirts, Japanese iPhone 3G Always Alerts When Taking Photos

upskirt.jpg

An upskirt warning poster in a subway station outside Tokyo. Photo by Jeff Epp.

The iPhone 3G in Japan has a special feature unique to that country: The camera always makes a conspicuous “shutter” sound when a picture is taken, even when the phone is set to “silent” mode.

The loud shutter sound is supposed to deter voyeurs from taking sneaky pictures up women’s’ skirts — or down their tops.

In Japan, upskirt and downblouse shots have become increasingly popular with the advent of high-resolution camera phones.

As a result, all cell phones sold in Japan make a conspicuous shutter sound, or say the word “cheese” when a snap is taken, according to Nobuyuki Hayashi, a tech reporter based in Tokyo.

On almost all new cell phones, the camera shutter sound can not be muted, Hayashi says.

“Some manufacturers have even put louder shutter sound,” he reports.

The shutter on the first iPhone sold in Japan could be muted in silent mode; an anomaly that many wondered whether Apple would correct in the iPhone 3G, Hayashi says.

Apple did: The shutter sound cannot be turned off, even in silent mode, Hayashi says.

  • Abc

    hmm. a 2megapixel upskirt photo without flash…. not worth it.

  • Tom

    And that stops Japanese pervs from buying a non-Japanese handset how exactly?

  • Gareth

    Japan has its own cellular network, doesn’t it, not GSM, so foreign phones don’t work there. I think, anyway.

  • VitaminCM

    Wow, this adds a whole new meaning to the whole “Jailbreak” thing.
    I’m sure this will be a bullet point in the next “Features” list for the Jailbreak upgrade. “Disable the perv blocker.”

  • Apple Fan

    This article is incorrect, the iPhone 3G “is” the first iPhone sold in Japan. What “first” iPhone is the writer talking about???

  • sandbaggerone

    ↑EXACTLY Zenmap!

  • Tim

    Just think how many prostitutes you could have for the price of a jesus phone… (inc’ crab cream)

  • AH

    Down blouse of what? Asians don’t have any tits in the first place.

  • JapSnap

    Cough…click…cough

  • fuck AH

    wow, racism is cool?

  • David York

    This is absurd.

    How are you supposed to take a picture at the following places if you can’t disable your camera from making a loud distracting or comical sound?:
    * an opera, drama or mime in performance
    * a library
    * a place of silent relection, like a war memorial
    * during an observation of silence such as at a funeral

  • David York

    … and if there are -already- phones that can take upskirt photos silently in Japan, then obviously if you’re a perv you’ll hang onto or obtain exactly one of those kinds. Duh!

  • trilok

    After clicking by iPhone…a lot has to be left for imagination..:-)

  • Joshua Wise

    This law isn’t new. The Japanese were using camera phones loooong before America had heard of them. And the Japanese law (not a foreign imposed decision) applies to all camera phones. I bought one in 2003 when I lived there and the shutter sound couldn’t be muted, you can choose the sound it makes, but you can’t make it silent.

    The Japanese do use a unique cell phone network, and any phone from another country has to be modified to be able to work there. Truthfully though, I have to imagine iPhone was the first they’d even bother importing. American phones are substandard compared to Japanese phones. I had a cheap pre-pay vodafone with free infinite email and free infinite text messaging. Their higher end models would make your head explode. Though Apple is sure leading the way with the iPhone, and the iPod, the Japanese have nothing on them.

  • american

    i had a camera phone in 2003, josh
    wanna-be azn much?

  • Alex

    He is right. Japanese phones are a few years ahead of American ones. Docomo was the first company to roll out 3G service worldwide (around 2001), and is now testing “super” 3G.

    Joshua’s point was that in 2003 Japan had already passed a law requiring phones to make that noise. Everyone had a phone with a camera in it, and with the camera phone technology everywhere the problem became so common that the government had to pass a law.

    When I bought my first mobile phone in Japan in 2001, every model had a camera in it, and could go online. The higher end Docomo models could go online at broadband speeds.

    When I bought my second phone in 2003 (early 04?) a lot of phone models already had 2 meg (or more)cameras.

  • Frost

    Interesting,

    So then pervs who want uppy pics of azn girls will just have to attend any Hot Import Nights car show anywhere in the USA and be able to get silent uppy pics without fear of arrest. The girlies at the car shows gladly give up the bendy uppy shots there.

  • monsieurgerard

    Japanese iPhone cams are indeed silence when taking pictures via Twinkle.

  • monsieurgerard

    oh, and whenever headphones are attached, too.

  • slushe

    So what. Cover up the speaker with your finger. Do that you won’t hear the sound.

  • Aussie

    You read my mind slushe (almost). Even if the software (OS) is too difficult to hack in to mute the sound, that doesn’t mean hardware couldn’t be tampered. Now you could either buy a high resolution camera phone and remove it’s speakers for good or… you could simply put a mini switch between the speakers and the hardware enabling the individual to totally mute the phones speakers.

    If I can think of this much with my limited knowledge/experience with mobile phones, I’m sure the Japanese are more than capable of finding a work around.

  • Ryan

    Did you see the video where they have people who cram passengers in to the subway cars? So many people, so much noise, how is anyone going to hear it?

  • Robotguy4

    Thinking the same thing Aussie.

    @David York:
    “This is absurd.

    How are you supposed to take a picture at the following places if you can’t disable your camera from making a loud distracting or comical sound?:
    * an opera, drama or mime in performance
    * a library
    * a place of silent relection, like a war memorial
    * during an observation of silence such as at a funeral”

    Well… I guess you would do it the same way you would do it with a good old fashioned film camera…

    *click*

    It may be hard to fathom, but there once was a time when cameras naturally made that sound. In fact, if I can remember correctly, they usually made a *CLICK WHIR* sound.

    Maybe it would also help people realize you don’t need to take pictures all the time and document every single event. Do you really need to take a picture during an observation of silence at a funeral (FYI: you misspelt “reflection”)? I thought they usually disallow pictures during performances…

    Ok, I understand the war memorial part, and yes they shouldn’t make the sound too comical, but for the most part it seems fine. People used to put up with a similar noise all the time.

  • rocky

    I don’t understand why n how u guys discussing, even though no one know either 3g have clicking sonud or not. I got new 3g n u can disable sound if u want too. What you only need to do just put iPhone into vibrate……use the top key above volume. but it does not mean u use it like pervert…bc If u will then may be someone take ur family pictures.

  • carloz

    Quote:

    > How are you supposed to take a picture at the following
    > places if you can’t disable your camera from making a loud
    > distracting or comical sound?:
    > * an opera, drama or mime in performance
    > * a library”
    > … etc.

    Erm, how about with a *camera*? Camera phones aren’t the only way to take pictures, oddly.

  • joequincy

    I cannot tell you how annoying it is when I have my phone on silent in my pocket and the camera goes off, making a VERY loud shutter noise in the process. While I understand the thought behind this move, it has also made it extremely inconvenient to take my phone anywhere because it tends to go off during things like weddings, classes, and library visits… and having to go through and delete all the pictures of the pitch-black inside of my pocket is just adding annoyance to embarrassment.

  • Joe

    The shutter sound only happens after the picture is already taken. What good will it do? Nice attempt and idea, but it won’t deter those really eager guys out there.

  • gomer

    Hold your thumb over the speaker holes, as good as muted.

  • josh

    why not just use a digital camera, i have seen digital camera’s the size of a cell phone

  • duaswawduo99

    every model had a camera in it, and could go online. The higher end Docomo models could go online at broadband speeds.

  • shuijiang

    I cannot tell you how annoying it is when I have my phone on silent in my pocket and the camera goes off, making a VERY loud shutter noise in the process.

  • weixia50

    shock me!!!

  • uiqeruiqerp

    Great post and thanks for the sharing.

  • tihew6701

     I have been putting on weight

  • DisHermes

    Wearability can sometimes be a dirty word in fashion, but not at Hermes. 

  • dfeubeusfds

    If you are looking for a designer’s bag at that price which is affordable to you then don’t you worry because bags providing you best Discount coach which has the prices extreme less then the normal sell price. A Coach use the top quality of leathers, selected for their strength and granule, to make their best quality handbags. Discount Bag is the perfect balance of fashion and functionality, and it comes in an extensive range of designs and styles.

    Whether you want the bags rather in-hand, on-shoulder, or across the body, you can locate the discount Bag. A discount Bag comes in an extensive variety of designs and materials, and some of the styles include Messenger bags, clutches or shoulder bags etc.Firstly you need to check the quality of leather by which bags are made. Real discountvBag has malleable leather that gives the feeling like butter. Then make sure that all bags are stamped with the authentic letters.
     

  • zksdfuebr

    Coach Factory Outlet Madison Exotic Shoulder Bag dim Blue,Those who could be the mentor fans should possess a this artist shoulder bag.Such a shoulder bag is using probably the most favored and recognized sorts even although while in the design planet these days.The fashionable design and high best top quality consist of the individuality to the operator inside the sort of coach factory outlet shoulder bags.

  • Bobololo

    You have obviously never experienced the silence on a packed Japanese train.

  • hermesmessage

    Hermes Birkin bag is now so famous that when you speak of Birkin Bag, at once you can think of luxury, Jane Birkin, whopping price handbag and Victoria Beckham. 

  • Florian Turgeon

    Haha that’s true

  • Kevbo

    Confused……”The shutter on the first iPhone sold in Japan could be muted in silent
    mode; an anomaly that many wondered whether Apple would correct in the
    iPhone 3G, Hayashi says.”

    Is Hayashi saying that there was an iPhone sold in Japan before the 3G that could be muted? That’s odd because before the iPhone 3G, there was the GSM-only iPhone which was never sold nor even works in Japan.

    Then there’s the 3G, which was never sold in Japan, either. Japan’s first iPhone was the 3GS.

  • James Smith

    Nope.
    First iPhone in Japan was the 3G. I know because I live in Japan and bought it at Softbank when it was initially released.

  • Brendan Long

    And that’s why, after all these years, I still use a flip phone. They tell me touchscreens are the way of the future. I tell them, “Over my dead body.”

About the author

Leander KahneyLeander Kahney is the editor and publisher of Cult of Mac. He is the NYT bestselling author of Jony Ive: The Genius Behind Apple's Greatest Products; Inside Steve’s Brain; Cult of Mac; and Cult of iPod. Leander has written for Wired, MacWeek, Scientific American, and The Guardian in London. Follow Leander on Twitter @lkahney and Facebook.

(sorry, you need Javascript to see this e-mail address)| Read more posts by .

Posted in iPod, Top stories | Tagged: |