I accidentally bought an international iPhone and it made me a better person

International privacy laws inhibit our ability to take sneaky snaps, writes Steph Paglia

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There’s truth to the phrase “you don’t know what you‘ve got ‘til it’s gone”. It’s the simple things we become accustomed to which are harder to mourn when lost. Half of a favourite pair of socks, our mum’s cooking after being away from home for too long, running out of a packet of sticky notes.

Or being able to turn off the shutter sound on your iPhone camera.

This is the story of how I bought an international model iPhone by accident (the international part, not the iPhone part), and how it changed my life for the better.

The differences between international model iPhones and regional versions are not commonly known. I had the phone for three days before I discovered the truth for myself: There is no (legal) way to turn off the shutter sound on international model iPhones.

This doesn’t sound very dramatic, but I’m telling you, I was in a panic. No sneaky snaps of people doing ridiculous things in public? No more screenshotting text messages as receipts?

No more taking photos of the readings from textbooks in Fisher 2 hour? No more taking pics of drunk friends to blackmail them at a later stage?

I joined thousands on Whirlpool forums discussing the situation we were in. Why was this happening? Was this what I got for buying the cheaper alternative? And how do we live our lives unable to take pictures in public without being judged for it because it MAKES A SOUND?

What I found brought me back to reality. Internationally, privacy regulations have been put in place in countries such as Japan to combat the huge issue of people taking up-skirt pictures of women. The shutter sound of all phones sold from these countries cannot be disabled, legally.

And neither can my embarrassment when I want to take a screenshot of a Pidgey sitting on my desk at work before I catch it.

But, as the months passed and the shutter sound remained at the highest volume, I realised I had to thank Japan. I was less judgemental of people in public, I was a better friend, I even actively listened in lectures instead of just taking photos of the slides.

So next time I see someone walking down the street with toilet paper stuck to their shoes I’ll chuckle to myself and refrain from taking a sneaky snap, enjoying the moment for what it is: a happy accident.