Apple challenges French findings, asserts iPhone 12 compliance with radiation regulations

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    13th September 2023 – (Paris) Apple announced on Wednesday (Sep 13) that its iPhone 12 model has received certification from multiple international bodies, confirming its compliance with global radiation standards. This comes after a French watchdog ordered Apple to cease sales of the handset in France, citing a breach of European exposure limits.

    The ANFR radiation watchdog instructed Apple on Tuesday to halt the sale of iPhone 12 devices in France following tests that revealed the phone’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) exceeded the legally allowed limit. SAR measures the rate at which the body absorbs radiofrequency energy from a device.

    The Agence Nationale des Frequences (ANFR), responsible for managing France’s radio frequencies and conducting periodic tests to assess human exposure to electromagnetic waves, stated that it would dispatch agents to Apple stores and other distributors to ensure compliance by discontinuing sales.

    ANFR emphasized its expectation for Apple to take all necessary measures to rectify the non-compliance. Failure to do so may result in the recall of iPhone 12 devices already sold to consumers.

    Apple responded by stating that it had provided ANFR with numerous Apple and independent third-party lab results, demonstrating compliance with all applicable SAR regulations and standards worldwide. The company contested the results of ANFR’s review and expressed its commitment to engaging with the agency to demonstrate compliance.

    Tests conducted by accredited labs, as reported by ANFR, indicated that the absorption of electromagnetic energy by the body reached 5.74 watts per kilogram during simulations of holding the phone in the hand or keeping it in a trouser pocket. The European standard specifies a maximum specific absorption rate of 4.0 watts per kilogram.

    ANFR clarified that the tests showed the phone complied with body-SAR standards when placed in a jacket pocket or bag.

    Jean-Noel Barrot, France’s junior minister for the digital economy, suggested that a software update would be sufficient to address the radiation concerns associated with the iPhone. He stated in an interview with French daily Le Parisien that Apple is expected to respond within two weeks. He added that if Apple fails to comply, he is prepared to order a recall of all circulating iPhone 12 devices, emphasising that the same rules apply to everyone, including digital giants.

    Apple does not disclose sales figures by country or model. However, its revenues in Europe totalled approximately US$95 billion last year, making it the company’s second-largest market after the Americas. Estimates suggest that over 50 million iPhones were sold in Europe last year. Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 on Tuesday.

    ANFR revealed that it recently tested 141 mobile phone models, including the iPhone 12. Any updates made by Apple to its devices will be verified by the agency.

    The European Union has established safety limits for SAR values related to mobile phone exposure, which could potentially increase the risk of certain forms of cancer according to scientific studies.

    The French watchdog will share its findings with regulators in other EU member states. Barrot noted that this decision could have a snowball effect in practical terms.

    In 2020, France expanded regulations requiring retailers to display radiation values on product packaging beyond cell phones, encompassing tablets and other electronic devices.