iPhone 4 maps show China bigger than it really is

Apple has launched its iPhone 4 in China with a redrawn map that shows China as being larger than it really is, one of just a few of Beiing’s propoganda and censorship requirements for the launch of the device.

Ogle Earth reported that the Maps app on the latest incarnation of the iPhone has received a once-over by some Chinese officials who must have failed their geography exams, as it shows regions that belong to other countries as being part of China.

For example, there is the Arunachal Pradesh region, which, as you can tell from the name, is part of India. Yet the iPhone 4 app tells Chinese citizens that it’s part of China, artificially boosting its borders to make it appear more dominant on the global scale.

The problem is even worse than it was with the iPhone 3GS, as users of that phone could log onto a virtual private network (VPN), a method to break through Beijing’s firewall, to view accurate maps of the world. Because the iPhone 4 has been effectively tampered with, however, this is no longer possible, meaning that a VPN will still display the altered maps showcasing China dominating the world.

The tampering goes further than making China look bigger too. Reports reveal that street names and other details from maps have been deleted or altered. Most of the street names in Europe have been axed or are available only in Chinese. We are not sure what this does to boost China’s image with its people, but we can imagine it’s claiming that only China is smart enough to have thought to give its streets names.

The Chinese iPhone 4 will also filter your search results through the censored version of Google, although this is a standard policy and not really a problem with the iPhone itself. Google struck a compromise with China earlier this year after threatening to pull out over the censorship of its search results, so now users will have to manually click on the Hong Kong site link to view uncensored results.

Again, however, Beijing has managed to block some of the VPN overrides of this censorship. Previously users could log onto a VPN and not be automatically directed to the censored results, but now censorship comes as standard on the iPhone 4.

Apple has had to cut features from its phones in the past to placate the Chinese government. For the iPhone 3G it had to remove WiFi as part of government regulations. While the iPhone 4 is not quite as restrictive, it won’t help any tourists who are wondering why parts of India don’t speak Chinese.