France’s official radiofrequency agency, Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR), is challenging Apple over its iPhone 12’s radiofrequency energy emissions. They claim these emissions surpass acceptable limits for human absorption.
Across a variety of mobile manufacturers, ANFR evaluated 141 devices for alignment with specified absorption rate (SAR) standards. SAR offers a quantitative method to assess the rate of radiofrequency energy uptake by the body, particularly from sources like mobile phones.
Global Standards on SAR Levels
Globally, there are established parameters ensuring that electronic devices, predominantly mobile phones, do not compromise human health with elevated radiation levels. For instance, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has endorsed a SAR ceiling of 1.6 watts/kg. In contrast, the European Union Council advocates for a 2.0W/kg threshold for body tissues and a heightened 4.0W/kg for sensitive areas like hands and wrists.
Upon testing, ANFR determined the iPhone 12’s SAR for limbs stood at a striking 5.74 W/kg, surpassing the recommended 4.0 W/kg threshold by an alarming 43.5%. Due to this finding, ANFR is urging Apple to recall iPhone 12 units in France and adapt them to fit within the European safety benchmarks.
Should Apple not address the noted SAR disparity, ANFR may execute a mandatory product recall, compelling current iPhone 12 users to trade their phones for compliant replacements.
ANFR’s official statement emphasized, “In light of our findings, we urge Apple to recall iPhone 12 units by 12 September 2023, owing to SAR breaches.” They further warned, “Should Apple not promptly address this, devices currently in users’ hands will be subject to mandatory recalls.”
However, it’s worth noting the iPhone 12’s SAR ratings for overall body use remains within permissible bounds, staying below 2.0 W/kg.
Possible Mitigation via Software Updates
Adapting an existing phone’s SAR value can be problematic since structural and design elements are already established, limiting the possibility of introducing or adjusting protective layers.
That said, Apple could potentially rectify the iPhone 12’s SAR through software or firmware tweaks, modifying the phone’s power management systems during its operations to reduce radiation emissions.
In the broader context, Apple’s latest offering, the iPhone 15, has been launched, rendering the iPhone 12 three generations older. Although Apple no longer lists it for direct sale, third-party vendors continue to offer the iPhone 12, both new and refurbished, benefitting from price reductions and Apple’s continued software support, making it a favoured selection among many consumers.