The iPhone is an inventive little gadget, and has probably shocked a few people over the years, but never quite like this. Australian officials have intercepted a shipment more than 6,000 weapons from China, including a batch of iPhone lookalikes that deliver a painful, potentially incapacitating electric shock.
According to a report and photographs provided by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, officers at the port of Melbourne seized the phony iPhones, which came with instructions labeling them as "iPhone 4 super ultra electronic thin riot" equipment, as well as brass knuckles, batons and shock weapons disguised as flashlights.
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The weapons had been en route to a unnamed 43-year-old man in nearby Thomastown, Victoria, whom police arrested yesterday (May 1). It's not yet clear who he is or what he intended to do with the shipment, but if convicted of importing prohibited weapons, he faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of about $390,000 in U.S. dollars.
The Taser-like device itself resembles an iPhone 4, although it's considerably wider than the real things, probably to accommodate the necessary electronics to administer a shock. The shock contact itself is on the top of the device, opposite the pretend headphone jack.
Using the iPhone weapon appears fairly simple. Assailants jab the contact into an opponent's body and activate the shock mechanism via a button, presumably the Home button facsimile at the bottom. Shocks from low-grade weapons like this are rarely fatal, but can incapacitate just about anyone almost instantly.
Citizens of Melbourne can rest easy for now, but if there's one shipment of weaponized iPhones out there in the world, it stands to reason that there are more elsewhere. If someone advances on you with an iPhone in hand, he or she may want something more than your number.