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Old October 4th, 2009, 12:22 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Removing the camera from a HTC Hero?

Hi,

I would like to buy a HTC Hero. But my office is located in a security area, where all kind of cameras are prohibited.

Is it possible to remove the camera and the camera software from the HTC Hero? Has anybody seen a back cover without a camera hole?

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Old October 4th, 2009, 01:01 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dirks View Post
Hi,

I would like to buy a HTC Hero. But my office is located in a security area, where all kind of cameras are prohibited.

Is it possible to remove the camera and the camera software from the HTC Hero? Has anybody seen a back cover without a camera hole?
In most secure areas ... Turning the phone off or covering the camera does qualify it to be allowed entry ...

So unless the lens has been removed .. and probably the cover modified to cover the original opening .. you will probably breaking the security requirements of your space and could endanger your security clearance if you have one ..
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Old October 4th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I would consider a change of career if it allowed me to keep my beloved Hero
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Old October 4th, 2009, 02:46 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I would consider a change of career if it allowed me to keep my beloved Hero
Now thats what I call true love
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Old October 4th, 2009, 02:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'm going to suggest that you get a trac phone, and forward your hero to your tracphone when you're at work. That way, your beloved hero will be awaiting you in the car at the end of a long hard day, with your pipe and slippers awaiting your return. Is that much of a price to pay? Wal Mart has 10 dollar phones, and you can load them with double the minutes if you search out coupon codes online. That's all I can think of.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 05:57 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Suggest you have a chat with your security people to see what would be acceptable. I suspect that merely removing the software on its own wouldnt be enough to satisfy them, youre going to have to remove the hardware (in which case its irrelevant whether the camera software is still on there or not) or somehow otherwise disable it (tippex on the lens? maybe even just a piece of masking tape?). If you really need to physically remove the lens i'm guessing it should be possible with a relatively small amount of violence, and if youre lucky the rest of the phone will still work afterwards.

My company finally realised that prohibition is a losing battle (difficult to find any phone without a camera these days), and have instead made everyone aware of their responsibilities and made us sign a form to that effect. If you really wanted to steal secrets with a camera there's not a lot they can do to stop you (unless youre prepared to have security so tight they search you every time you enter the building), so all they can really do is make sure you know what you shouldnt do (also means they can sue your arse into oblivion if you do something you shouldnt). Same thing applies to nearly any modern electronics device, e.g. mp3 players, thumbdrives etc.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 06:13 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Thanks for all answers!

Leaving the phone in the car is not really an option. I would like to use the Hero as phone and as PDA (calendar, taking notes). I need it mainly in the office during the business times.

The security department prefers mobile phones that were originally built without a camera. As it becomes more and more difficult to buy mobile phones without cameras, they are thinking about possible solutions. But so far no decision has been made.

I think they would accept a Hero, where the hardware camera module, the lens and the camera software have been removed. Ideally the back cover shouldn't have a hole anymore. Whatever has been done to remove the camera function, it must be obvious to the security person.

Does anybody know whether the lens is attached to the back cover or to the camera module? Has anybody seen a third party back cover without lens/hole?
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Old October 5th, 2009, 06:29 AM   #8 (permalink)
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A Hole-less back cover seems the best option - if such a thing exists. You wouldn't want to vandalise your phone.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 06:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Oh, I am not afraid to vandalize it, as long as it works after removing the camera.

I think it is a must to remove camera, lens and software. The hole-less back cover would only be nice to have. It would simplify the discussion with the security department: "Look - this phone hasn't even a hole for the camera lens".

If a hole remains after the removal of the camera, the security employees could still doubts whether there's are camera inside or not.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 07:33 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Thought about just filling in the hole your self. Some apoxy resin sandpaper and a can of spray paint
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Old October 5th, 2009, 09:43 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I don't really see how you could strip the whole lens and sensor out of there in one go. You'd have to dismantle the phone to do it without damaging anything else.
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Old October 5th, 2009, 01:20 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Rather than deforming your lovely new Hero, maybe an option would be to remove the back cover, then place a piece of black / grey / white card (depending on the colour of Hero you get) over the lense cover. Placing the cover back in place will actually hold it firmly in place, I just tested it myself.

Just a thought!

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Old October 5th, 2009, 01:29 PM   #13 (permalink)
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That won't be enough. I am not allowed to take a camera inside the security area. Hiding the lens won't be enough.

I have just ordered the Hero. I will be able to tell you in a few days whether the camera can be easily removed or whether I have ruined a brand new and expensive smart phone
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Old October 5th, 2009, 02:19 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Where do you work O.O
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Old October 5th, 2009, 02:25 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Industry (Automotive)
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Old October 5th, 2009, 05:47 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Industry (Automotive)
You got any photos of that new prototype car?
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Old October 5th, 2009, 08:21 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Sorry, probably should have done this before you purchased the phone, but here's a pic:

IMG_0035.jpg

As you can see, removing the lens isn't really an option. The best you could do would be to paint over it and perhaps uninstall the camera app (if possible). Then fill the hole best you can and paint over that "F2.8 AUTO FOCUS 5.0 MEGA PIXELS" part.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 01:21 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Your picture doesn't look too bad. I see four screws in the corners to remove the cover. We'll see if that's all to get to the camera.

I just had a look in the service manual of the HTC Magic (I won't link to it here, just google). If the Hero is similar built, the camera module can be physically removed.

I don't think that the Android OS will be a problem. It should recognize the absence of the camera on the next boot.

Has anybody seen a service manual for the HTC Hero?
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Old October 6th, 2009, 01:45 AM   #19 (permalink)
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Hmmh, I'm starting to doubt

How did they attach the camera to the main board? Soldered?


Disassembly of the HTC Hero

After a second look this looks similar to the HTC Magic where the camera can be removed.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 02:01 AM   #20 (permalink)
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Could you not just remove the software and put a screwdriver through the lens and do a very good job of visibly cracking it? If you're not going to be able to use it, I assume you're not bothered about breaking it?
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Old October 6th, 2009, 02:08 AM   #21 (permalink)
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No, unfortunately cracking the lens is not sufficient for the security guys
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Old October 6th, 2009, 04:23 AM   #22 (permalink)
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I sense a lack of trust between your capto..... I mean, your employers and you. Don't you hate it when people will give you money to do things for them, but hover just over your left shoulder the entire time you're doing it?
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Old October 6th, 2009, 04:44 AM   #23 (permalink)
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No, it is not that way. This a big factory with several thousand employees. Security and non-disclosure are definitely important for the success of the business.

The security wards are doing an important job. They do spot checks to control the employees who are entering or leaving the area. They have to be supported.

The wards can't judge on-the-fly whether a scratched camera is still working or not. That's why I want to remove the camera completely. The wards can quickly judge that a non existing camera doesn't make any pictures.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 06:45 AM   #24 (permalink)
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I think its pretty easy to remove it. Looking at HTC's winmo phones (lets face it most of the hardware is the same) the camera looks identical and is just a module that can be gently removed with a plastic tool. However its a bugger you can't ask HTC to do it officially as it will void all warranty going by removing it.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 06:51 AM   #25 (permalink)
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Yes, I already asked HTC a couple of days ago. Unfortunately HTC and their service partners aren't offering a 'camera removal option'.

So I have to void the warranty myself (or send the camera to a non authorized service company).
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Old October 6th, 2009, 07:06 AM   #26 (permalink)
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Dirks
The only thing I would really recommend is to find someone who has taken something like this apart to help you if you haven't done this sort of thing. As the components get so fiddly when they get this small and people who regularly fix iPods cameras and phones have developed skills to deal with these sort of components. And don’t force anything to hard.
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Old October 6th, 2009, 08:40 AM   #27 (permalink)
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Have you considered simply taking a drill press to the lens?

You wouldn't have to take your phone apart (arguably avoiding voiding your warranty on the rest of the device), and the 'mod' would surely be very evident (which in your case, unusually, would be a Good Thing).
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Old October 6th, 2009, 05:50 PM   #28 (permalink)
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If the company doesn't want camera phones in the work place how about just recommending phones which don't have a camera. Probably not easy to find nowadays
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Old October 7th, 2009, 01:55 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Didn't you think about this before you bought the phone???? Plenty of other units out there that don't have cameras...seems a bizarre decision to make knowing you aren't allowed cameras.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 03:44 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Didn't you think about this before you bought the phone???? Plenty of other units out there that don't have cameras...seems a bizarre decision to make knowing you aren't allowed cameras.
Um. Read the first post of the thread.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 04:32 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Um. Read the first post of the thread.
Ok ....

Advice to poster.....DON'T get the Hero or any device with a camera.. you're not allowed it at your work.

Get a device with no camera.

Seems pretty obvious to me...or am I missing something?
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Old October 7th, 2009, 05:04 AM   #32 (permalink)
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Youre missing the fact that there arent any decent smartphones without cameras out there. Buying the phone you want and removing the camera seems like a reasonable option to me.

The camera on the hero is pretty dreadful anyway, so no great loss.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 05:05 AM   #33 (permalink)
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Seems pretty obvious to me...or am I missing something?
Yes any smart phone without a camera.
The guy wants an android phone. There isnt one with out a camera. Sure your advice is correct but that wasnt the point of him asking the question here.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 05:31 AM   #34 (permalink)
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I bet that if you remove the camera, put it in a 3-D scanning bed, and print out a piece of plastic in the exact shape, you could put that printed piece back into the phone, therefore, keeping it safe from crap getting into the phone. I really want to see you get your phone safely altered, and if you have access to that sort of equipment, I don't see why it couldn't be done. I'll tell you what. I should have my phone on Friday. I will try to get you a better plan than drilling it out or destroying it. I would think that if it were modular, you could take it out, store it somewhere, and later, say for a vacation, you could re-install it. Let's get this thing done properly. Like they say at Makezine, if you can't open it, you don't own it.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:19 AM   #35 (permalink)
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There ARE decent handheld devices that don't have cameras. Yes they aren't Android, but Android isn't the be all end all.

Buying a phone you KNOW isn't allowed at your workplace is just ludicrous. Then to top it off, people are egging the guy on by giving him ways to remove the camera and in doing so remove the warranty! It's just crazy... you blindly buy a 400 quid phone then immediately invalidate any warranty for something you knew before u bought it? What if it packs up after 2 weeks?

There are alternative devices that don't have cameras....yeah,they may not be the Hero, but due to your circumstances you may have to compromise....but invalidating a warranty on an expensive phone after a few days SHOULDN'T even be a remotely sensible option.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:37 AM   #36 (permalink)
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@spenspuma
All noted but he asked a question, we have given an answer, its his choice and this is what he wants to do. No one here is egging him on.
It’s his money and property and if he chooses to take apart his phone great. I’m not asking you to do it to yours. I’m sure he is aware he can get a phone with no features that his company would accept but he was asking about this phone. The solution to get a solid back cover was offered to him but he wants to remove the module completely.

Also the warranty is optional and if he breaks it he is aware that it will cost him to fix it.

Just because it seems crazy to you doesn’t mean he can’t and won’t do it.

There are people who buy these things just to take them apart and mod them (better camera, different sockets, bigger speaker etc) so he was asking in the right places.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:43 AM   #37 (permalink)
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One other thought. How about an anti tamper sticker over the lens. If your company stick it over the lens they can regularly and quickly check on entry and exit to see if you have tried to use the camera in the sensitive area.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:49 AM   #38 (permalink)
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One other thought. How about an anti tamper sticker over the lens. If your company stick it over the lens they can regularly and quickly check on entry and exit to see if you have tried to use the camera in the sensitive area.
Dear dear.....why don't you ask them to put cctv on you all day making sure you don't use the camera!
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:49 AM   #39 (permalink)
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One other thought. How about an anti tamper sticker over the lens. If your company stick it over the lens they can regularly and quickly check on entry and exit to see if you have tried to use the camera in the sensitive area.
Then nobody has to vandalise anything. they should be OK with that IMHO.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:54 AM   #40 (permalink)
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@sensuma: Lighten up dude, if we wanted to be told what we we're allowed to do with our phones based on somebody else's idea of what's right we wouldve all bought iPhones.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:55 AM   #41 (permalink)
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Dear dear.....why don't you ask them to put cctv on you all day making sure you don't use the camera!
Its not my work place. I just came up with an idea that wont invalidate his warranty you should be happy.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 06:56 AM   #42 (permalink)
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@sensuma: Lighten up dude, if we wanted to be told what we we're allowed to do with our phones based on somebody else's idea of what's right we wouldve all bought iPhones.
No no davey an iphone has a camera!!!
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Old October 7th, 2009, 07:02 AM   #43 (permalink)
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I bet that if you remove the camera, put it in a 3-D scanning bed, and print out a piece of plastic in the exact shape, you could put that printed piece back into the phone, therefore, keeping it safe from crap getting into the phone. I really want to see you get your phone safely altered, and if you have access to that sort of equipment, I don't see why it couldn't be done. I'll tell you what. I should have my phone on Friday. I will try to get you a better plan than drilling it out or destroying it. I would think that if it were modular, you could take it out, store it somewhere, and later, say for a vacation, you could re-install it. Let's get this thing done properly. Like they say at Makezine, if you can't open it, you don't own it.
That's the way I am thinking of it. I don't have access to a 3-D scanning bed, but the camera module is just a simple nearly cubic element. I thought of manually cutting some foam to the right dimensions to fill the space. I haven't yet decided how to close the hole in the back cover.

Re-installing the camera for vacation is an option.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 07:17 AM   #44 (permalink)
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There ARE decent handheld devices that don't have cameras. Yes they aren't Android, but Android isn't the be all end all.
If such a device would exist, I would already own it. Unfortunalety every bloody smart phone has a camera. I don't expect any smart phones without camera in the near future.

I am not afraid of voiding the warranty. If my 'modded' Hero fails in the future I can still have it repaired for a reasonable amount of money. I have seen the service price list.

Life is about taking risks. No risk, no fun. This is neither rocket science nor brain surgery. It just takes a screw driver and some sensitiveness.

By the way: This is not the first device where I have removed the camera. I have already done this with an EEE PC. The financial risk was nearly the same (300 vs. 400 ).

My Hero has been delivered this morning. I will test the unit for a few days to make sure that it's not dead on arrival. I am going to disassemble it on the weekend. I will keep you informed.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 07:31 AM   #45 (permalink)
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Not doubting the poster but, surely ALL phones are banned by your company? Seeing as 99.9% of mobile phones have cameras these days I can't see that your company would do anything other than block ban cos otherwise they are going to end up with smart 4rses trying it on.

Do people really think companies have the time and resources to get someone to check ever day to see if a person has fiddled with their anti-tamper sticker they put over a camera lens.

I'm just amazed that so many people are coming up with these ludicrous work arounds to a problem which shouldn't even be there.

If you are not allowed camera phones then dont buy a camera phone and be expecting to use it. If I was the boss I certainly wouldn't allow ANY phone because the overwhelming majority contain cameras.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 07:46 AM   #46 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by dirks View Post
If such a device would exist, I would already own it. Unfortunalety every bloody smart phone has a camera. I don't expect any smart phones without camera in the near future.

I am not afraid of voiding the warranty. If my 'modded' Hero fails in the future I can still have it repaired for a reasonable amount of money. I have seen the service price list.

Life is about taking risks. No risk, no fun. This is neither rocket science nor brain surgery. It just takes a screw driver and some sensitiveness.

By the way: This is not the first device where I have removed the camera. I have already done this with an EEE PC. The financial risk was nearly the same (300 vs. 400 ).

My Hero has been delivered this morning. I will test the unit for a few days to make sure that it's not dead on arrival. I am going to disassemble it on the weekend. I will keep you informed.
Sounds like you already know what you're doing and don't need advice.

Word of advice though...If your company are that strict then I would clear with them first what you plan to do with the phone.. otherwise you could end up modifying your hero for nothing if they still say its not acceptable
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Old October 7th, 2009, 07:46 AM   #47 (permalink)
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Not doubting the poster but, surely ALL phones are banned by your company?
Sure: All mobile phones and all other devices containing a camera (Notebook with webcam) are not allowed. If want to take a phone inside, you have to stick to brilliant devices like the Nokia 3109 Classic

The company doesn't want to see their prototypes in the press. Forbidding cameras is highly necessary.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 08:12 AM   #48 (permalink)
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The company doesn't want to see their prototypes in the press. Forbidding cameras is highly necessary.
Yeah, but apparently they dont seem to mind as much if you, say, copy all of the blueprint files onto your phone via usb.

Eventually your company is going to have to face reality the same way mine did - if you really wanted to smuggle information out there is nothing they can reasonably do to stop you - technology is just too small and too powerful these days. Even a strip search at the door wouldnt be enough.

The only way forward is to educate your workforce in the use of such devices so that they are less likely to do stupid things by mistake, like, i dunno, leaving an unencrypted usb stick full of military secrets on the train.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 08:14 AM   #49 (permalink)
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Yeah, but apparently they dont seem to mind as much if you, say, copy all of the blueprint files onto your phone via usb.

Eventually your company is going to have to face reality the same way mine did - if you really wanted to smuggle information out there is nothing they can reasonably do to stop you - technology is just too small and too powerful these days. Even a strip search at the door wouldnt be enough.
I fully agree to you.
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Old October 7th, 2009, 09:09 AM   #50 (permalink)
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Don't understand how they police it? Do they check all your pens incase you have a camera pen?....tie pins? Watches? Belt buckles? Don't understand how it can work....how do you prove you haven't got a working camera on your camera-phone?
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