Wednesday, September 13, 2023

iPhone 12 Radiation

ANFR (via Hacker News):

As market surveillance authority for radio equipment and responsible for controlling public exposure to electromagnetic fields, the ANFR runs inspections on mobile phones placed on the French market. 141 mobile phones, including Apple’s iPhone 12, have recently been tested to check compliance with limit SAR values. SAR is a measure of the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body from the equipment being measured.

The mobile phones were tested by an accredited laboratory, which allows the ANFR to ensure that the SAR values comply with European regulation.


Apple must immediately adopt all necessary measures to prevent the iPhone 12 in the supply chain from being made available on the market. As for those telephones that are already in use, Apple must adopt all necessary corrective measures to bring the telephones into conformity as soon as possible, otherwise, Apple will have to recall the equipment.

It doesn’t sound like this is a new regulation, so did they wait 3 years until after the product was discontinued before testing it? Or are recent iPhone 12s now manufactured differently so that they no longer meet the same standard?

Mathieu Rosemain and Elizabeth Pinea:

Germany’s network regulator BNetzA said it might launch similar proceedings and was in close contact with French authorities, while Spain’s OCU consumers’ group urged authorities there to halt the sales of the iPhone 12.


Apple said in a statement the iPhone 12, launched in 2020, was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global radiation standards, that it had provided several Apple and third-party lab results proving the phone’s compliance to the French agency, and that it was contesting its findings.


Croft said the French findings could differ from those recorded by other regulators because ANFR assesses radiation with a method that assumes direct skin contact, without intermediate textile layers, between the device and user.

Update (2023-09-14): Thomas Clement:

From what I heard on the French news here, an iOS update (which one they didn’t say) is the cause for the increase in radiation. Which would explain why this is coming up only now.


Some adjustments were made to the signal power code logic and that caused the phone to go over the threshold. Then it could be fixed just as well.

Update (2023-09-15): Lwii2boo:

I’m French and French media told us that this issue applied only for iPhone 12. 12 mini, 12 Pro and 12 PM are not concerned by this issue.

Moreover the emission was fine at launch for EU standard (<4W/kg) but when ANFR did again the test 3 years later, the emission measure was increased to 5.7W/kg. According to many experts, you need to reach 40W/kg before having realistic health risk.

If the test is valid, Apple would be forced to push a software update to reduce emissions - which is easily feasible as this is how the emission has increased over time - but it may reduce modem performance.

Tim Hardwick:

Apple said on Friday it would issue a software update for iPhone 12 users in France to address radiation concerns raised by the country's regulators (via Reuters).

3 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

"It doesn’t sound like this is a new regulation, so did they wait 3 years until after the product was discontinued before testing it?"

I think the way it works is that the company declares that it is compliant, and provides paperwork to prove so, and then the agency does spot tests. Looks like they decided to run a bunch of spot tests on phones, and this iPhone was included in this round.

I wonder if Apple lied intentionally or if something has changed in the production.

Odd story - don’t think Apple would be more careless about radiation than manufacturers of cheaper stuff - and why would it only apply to one generation of phone? And is France the only country in the world that does retrospective tests on phones released years ago? Something iffy about this IMO.

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