France bans iPhone 12 sales after finding radiation levels are too high


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WTF?! With the unveiling of the iPhone 15 series yesterday, a lot of Apple headlines are related to its latest handsets. But an older device, the iPhone 12, is suddenly getting a lot of attention, and for an unusual reason: France has ordered Apple to stop selling the phone due to its radiation levels being above the allowed threshold.

The French agency that regulates radio frequencies, the ANFR, has notified Apple of its decision to ban iPhone 12 sales after tests showed the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) was above the allowed limit.

The ANFR said accredited labs had measured absorption of electromagnetic energy by the body at 5.74 watts per kilogram during tests simulating when the phone was being held in the hand or kept in a pocket, writes France 24. That's higher than the European standard absorption rate of 4.0 watts per kilogram.

The agency noted that tests measuring radiation absorption rates at a distance of 5cms (1.98 inches) showed that the iPhone 12 was in compliance with the limit of 2.0 watts per kilogram.

France's junior minister for the digital economy, Jean-Noël Barrot, told newspaper Le Parisien that a software update would be able to address the radiation issues linked to the iPhone 12. Apple has two weeks to respond to France's request, if it fails to do so, Barrot stated that he is prepared to issue a recall of the device, which went on sale in 2020.

Barrot said, "In practical terms, this decision could have a snowball effect."

The ANFR said it would verify that the iPhone 12 models were no longer being offered for sale in France starting today.

Apple said it had provided ANFR with multiple Apple and independent third-party lab results proving its compliance with all applicable SAR regulations and standards in the world. The company added that it was contesting the results of AFNR's review and would continue to engage with the agency to show it is compliant.

The World Health Organization website states that numerous studies have shown "no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use."

In 2020, France expanded its rules requiring retailers to display radiation values of products on packaging beyond cell phones to include other electronic devices such as tablets.

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Any insights on why this news is coming out 3 years after the widespread sale & use of this phone?

Are other more recent models OK on this measure, or will we have to wait more years to hear about them?
Any insights on why this news is coming out 3 years after the widespread sale & use of this phone?

Are other more recent models OK on this measure, or will we have to wait more years to hear about them?
You prefer the US model of the consumer working out problems and suing? France is clearly doing a lot more than the US in this regard. Apple should have been on top of compliance with regulations. They were obviously given benefit of doubt in the initial market launch. Now a correction is being done and their compliance is the leverage. If they don't comply, subsequent launches will be subject to far greater scrutiny. That seems pretty reasonable wouldn't you agree?
Actually I expected to learn a reasonable and important piece of information that was mistakenly left out of the article, such as maybe "radiation increased due to a recent software patch" or "the law is new so the phone was only tested now" or "more accurate measurement techniques were recently established".

But I disagree with your characterization of the US model. Sure, as a final last step, covering the "no one knew but US liability law will still ultimately hold the manufacturer responsible because they were in the best position to be able to know (while conveniently also having the deepest pockets)", it's a not-perfect but not-completely-silly approach either.

But it is just the final step. For the things we do know there tend to be defined standards, and companies tend to meet those standards. For example, Apple would have passed FCC compliance testing well prior to selling the first iPhone 12, and you are not going to find much history of that process not doing what it says it does. FWIW I believe Apple when they say they have countless studies that shows it meeting all the various regulations in all the countries it sells in, because that's how large companies here generally work.

Which brings me back to my question... what happened to cause this alleged failure to be surfaced only now, three years later, and what are the measurements of the current phones?
Like fine wine, good testing takes time..

Regardless, it seems odd that the ANFR test results haven't been reproduced by another lab. They have two weeks, so I wonder whether the radio can be dialed down through carrier settings or would this need to be addressed via iOS patch.
Any insights on why this news is coming out 3 years after the widespread sale & use of this phone?

Just a curious possibility... new iPhone updates make the older iPhones work harder/use more electricity/have reduced battery life/planned obsolescence. So when it came out, it was fine, fast forward a couple years, now it's not. Time to buy the new one I guess.
Microwaves can be dangerous. On the other hand, I bet the majority of apple users (or smartphones in general) don't use them as "phones" much these days, but texting, video chat etc. Not as many hold a phone up to their ear as they use to.
I've always used a bluetooth headset, going all the way back to the two part Plantronics two piece headset before cell phones had built in bluetooth.
Perhaps the issue only started after a recent software update, testing was not done correctly or its the next VW diesel emissions cheating scandal.