When is it too far? France has instructed Apple to cease the sale of the iPhone 12 due to the excessive electromagnetic radiation emissions.
The decision was made by the French regulatory authority, responsible for managing radio frequencies.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously attempted to alleviate concerns regarding radiation emitted by mobile phones. The WHO states on its website that there is no evidence to suggest that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields poses a risk to human health.
The iPhone 12 was initially launched in September 2020 and is still available globally. In response to the developments, Apple has informed the BBC that it is challenging the ANFR’s assessment. They have provided lab results from both their own testing and 3rd party evaluations, all of which indicate that the device complies with relevant regulations concerning radiation levels.
The French National Frequency Agency (ANFR) concern is based on the iPhone 12’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), which they found exceeded the legally allowed limit. They have given Apple a two-week window to respond to these findings, failure to do so could result in a recall of all iPhone 12 units currently in circulation. The regulatory authority also plans on sharing its findings with other regulators in the EU, potentially triggering a broader impact across the trading bloc.
To assess SAR levels, the ANFR considers two experiments: one where the phone is too close to a person’s body such as when held or placed in a trouser pocket, with a SAR limit of four watts per kilogram. The iPhone 12 exceeded the limit with a recorded SAR of 5.74 watts per kilogram. However, when the phone is slightly further away, as might be the case when it’s in a bag or jacket pocket, the iPhone 12’s SAR measurements fell below the limit.
This development coincided with the unveiling of Apple’s new iPhone 15 on the same day in France. The iPhone 15 is the first model since 2012 to feature an alternative charging port, and Apple plans to offer an adapter to enable compatibility with existing cables.
In response to reports alleging that Chinese government agencies had instructed their staff to stop using iPhones, the Chinese foreign ministry clarified that China had not issued any laws, regulations, or policies to prohibit the use of Apple products.