iPhone 12 deemed too hot to handle for France's radiation standards

Watchdog worries over electromagnetic waves, Apple disagrees

Apple's launch party for its latest iPhone was marred slightly yesterday as the French National Frequency Agency (ANFR) told the company that its iPhone 12 breached electromagnetic wave limits.

At issue is the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) observed on the iPhone 12, which the ANFR has said exceeds European limits.

The phone was first released in October 2020.

SAR is a measure of the rate at which energy is absorbed by a human body when exposed to a radio frequency electromagnetic field. The sort of thing that is pumped out by, say, a mobile phone. It is measured in watts of power per kilogram.

For a device operating in the frequency range of the iPhone 12, EU regulations state that the localized SAR for the head or trunk – holding the phone in close contact – must be 2 W/kg and the value for limbs – holding the phone further away or keeping it in a jacket or bag – must be 4 W/kg.

The SAR values are averaged over a six-minute period.

While the iPhone 12 had no problems with the "trunk" limit, it exceeded the "limb" limit. The ANFR stated that the SAR value recorded was 5.74 W/kg.

The acceptable values differ around the world. In the case of the EU, the regulations are designed to protect the health of consumers and workers alike amid concerns over the harmful effects of non-ionizing radiation.

The ANFR has, therefore, requested a halt to sales of the iPhone 12 in the French market and called on Apple to fix the problem. If the company cannot, the ANFR has stated that the model must be recalled.

Representatives of the ANFR have been instructed to ensure that the iPhone 12 is no longer available in French distribution channels. Furthermore, the ANFR also intends to supervise corrective actions taken by Apple.

Apple unsurprisingly rejected the ANFR's claims. It told The Register that the iPhone 12 was certified as compliant by standards authorities worldwide and it had handed over evidence to the ANFR showing the smartphone met regulations.

French authorities are no strangers to antagonizing US tech giants. Starlink's license was pulled in 2022 following protests, and schools were instructed to stop using free versions of Microsoft 365 and Google Workspace amid privacy concerns.

As for the 2020-era iPhone 12, it was discontinued by Apple on the same day as the ANFR took its action. While no longer available to consumers via Apple's website, devices still lurk within distribution channels. ®

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