China wasn’t the only country to get the iPhone 4 this weekend. Denizens of both Qatar and the United Arab Emirates also got their hands on Cupertino’s latest handset, packed with all the features separating it from its predecessor the 3GS save one: FaceTime.
According to The National, iPhone 4s sold through UAE carriers Etisalat and du as well as those sold by Vodafone in Qatar are missing the FaceTime software, although the forward-facing camera is obviously still there. According to the carriers, they’ve had no hand in stripping the video chat feature out, and they are petitioning Apple to reinstate Facetime soon.
Right now, Apple’s reasoning in omitting Facetime is mysterious, but the United Arab Emirates recently threatened to ban the BlackBerry if its encrypted, out-of-country messaging service wasn’t opened up to authorities for surveillance; since Facetime probably falls into a similar boat, Apple may have opted to leave the capability out as a preventive measure, rather than comply with a government whose approach to privacy they find onerous.