Apple said on Wednesday its iPhone 12 model was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global radiation standards after a French watchdog ordered it to stop selling the handset on the grounds it breaches European exposure limits. The ANFR radiation watchdog told Apple to halt sales of the iPhone 12s in France after tests that it said showed the phone’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR)- a measure of the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the human body from a piece of equipment – was higher than legally allowed. It said it would send agents to Apple stores and other distributors to check the model was no longer being sold.
The ANFR said its accredited labs had found SAR levels of 5.74 watts per kilogram when testing the iPhone 12 for electromagnetic waves that are susceptible to being absorbed by the body, above the limit set by the European Union of 4 watts per kilogram for phones held in hand or kept in pockets. It also exceeded the limit of 2.5 watts per kilogram for phones when used in a jacket pocket or bag. The ANFR added that the test results showed the phone’s SAR levels were lower than for other smartphones tested in the same way but said it remained “above the European limit.”
French junior minister for the digital economy, Jean-Noel Barrot, suggested that a software update could resolve the issue and that Apple should bring its iPhones into compliance within two weeks. He warned that if the company did not take action within this timeframe, he was ready to order a recall of all iPhones 12 currently in circulation.
In a statement, Apple said it had provided the ANFR with multiple lab results by both Apple and third parties, proving that the iPhone 12 adhered to the ANFR’s current regulations. The company added that it was committed to engaging with the ANFR and would make every effort to ensure all its products were safe for users worldwide.
Cellphones have been labeled as potential carcinogens by the World Health Organisation’s cancer research arm but are still considered safer than coffee, diesel fumes, and the pesticide DDT. The WHO has also insisted that no adverse health effects from using cell phones for prolonged periods have been proven.
Apple said the ANFR’s claims were based on outdated and inaccurate scientific studies. It added that the ANFR’s tests were flawed and did not simulate how a typical consumer uses their smartphone. The ANFR’s decision is expected to have a snowball effect, with regulators across the EU taking similar actions against Apple devices.
The news came on the day that Apple unveiled its new iPhone 15 models, which will be the first to adopt USB-C charging ports in a bid to comply with European Union rules on the move. Those rules require all electronic devices to use the port by 2024. Apple has also adopted the new USB-C port for its latest iPad tablet.