Bottom line: Apple is developing a patch to "fix" an alleged radiation leak in the iPhone 12. However, Cupertino is only pushing the patch to French customers. Should you be concerned? According to Apple, no. The iPhone 12 is perfectly safe and has passed regulatory tests in every country but France. The patch is only to address the specific testing protocol France uses.
Apple is updating the iPhone 12 in France after regulators threatened to force a recall over radiation concerns. French regulators claim that the device emits electromagnetic radiation in excess of levels allowed in the European Union.
Apple says the iPhone 12 is perfectly safe and points out that France is the only country out of 27 EU nations that has raised the complaint since the phone launched in 2020. It says the issue arose from a specific test protocol only the French government uses.
The regulatory agency ANFR (Agence nationale des fréquences) claims the iPhone 12 failed one of two tests it conducts to determine the specific absorption rate (SAR). Reuters notes that the ANFR's freeze on iPhone 12 sales caught the attention of other EU members, including Belgium, Germany, and Italy. Those nations and others are closely monitoring the situation.
Initially, Apple contested the order, but has since decided it would issue a patch that should fix the problem, rather than argue about the safety of the phone.
"We will issue a software update for users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators," Apple told Reuters. "We look forward to iPhone 12 continuing to be available in France."
Apple did not go into specifics, so it is unclear exactly what the patch will do or if it will affect signal reception or performance. The iPhone 12 is one of 140 phones ANFR is currently testing to see if SAR levels fall within EU guidelines.
The sales ban has been in effect since September 12, the day Apple announced the latest lineup of its flagship iPhone 15, which ships on September 22. Cupertino does not anticipate the radiation issue to affect new device sales. However, it expects the French regulator to retest the iPhone 12 promptly after the update, lift the sales ban, and put the issue to rest.