iPhone 12 Withdrawn Amid Safety Fears

John Lister's picture

Electromagnetism fears mean Apple can no longer sell the iPhone 12 in France. The company rejects government claims that the phone exceeds safe emission limits.

The government agency which made the ruling stands by its claims. Officials say that if Apple doesn't fully withdraw the handset from sale, the country may demand a recall of handsets from customers, a costly and embarrassing outcome for Apple.

The move has proven particularly controversial as its disputed whether exposure to electromagnetic fields at the levels a phone could put out cause any risk to humans.

Close Range Emissions Too High

The ruling followed testing by the Agence National des Frequences (ANFR), which oversees radio frequency issues such as wireless communications, over-the-air television and mobile data networks. As well as enforcing technical standards to avoid interference in signals, it's responsible for checking safety.

The agency recently subjected a range of handsets to two tests: one for electromagnetic emissions at close range such as a phone in a pocket and one for further away such as carried in a bag. The iPhone 12 failed the first test with a reading around 40 percent higher than the permitted limit. (Source: anfr.fr)

Apple now has two weeks withdraw the iPhone 12 from sale in France, both online and from stores. That may not be as devastating as it might seem to the company as the iPhone 12, released in 2020, is the oldest model still widely available to buy new.

Recall is Possible

The bigger problem is the ANFR's demand that Apple find a way to mitigate the emissions on handsets people are already using, for example through a software update. If it doesn't or can't do so, the agency may require a full recall of the iPhone 12.

Apple disputes the results of the testing and says its own tests show far lower emissions which meet all relevant safety standards, including those in France. (Source: apple.com)

France isn't the only country to carry out such testing. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the US requires similar testing, though it points out its testing isn't designed to rank different handsets or give an overall safety ranking. Instead, it uses testing designed to find a worst-case scenario for emissions from a particular handset and make sure this falls within a safe limit.

What's Your Opinion?

Do you worry about electromagnetic emissions from phones? Have you used measures such as a hands-free kit or headset to reduce risks? Is it better to err on the side of caution with safety testing or does this undermine confidence in the results?

Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (3 votes)


Chief's picture

Electromagnetism definitely affects some worse than others.
Over the past 50 years, I have seen many studies and I'm still not certain what the limits are.
I believe the solution is simple:
Apple should put out a statement declaring their iPhones are SAFE AND EFFECTIVE communication devices.