Apple defended its iPhone 12 model on Wednesday after a French watchdog ordered it to halt sales, citing violations of EU radiation exposure limits.
The French move raised the prospect of further sanctions in Europe. Germany’s network regulator BNetzA said it may initiate similar action and is in close contact with French authorities, while Spain’s OCU consumer group urged authorities there to freeze iPhone 12 sales. Stop it.
The iPhone 12, which was launched in 2020, has been certified as compliant with global radiation standards by several international organizations, Apple said in a statement, noting that it has tested the results of several Apple and third-party labs. provided evidence of phone compliance to the French agency, and that it was contesting its findings.
Researchers have conducted many studies over the past two decades to assess the health risks resulting from mobile phones. According to the World Health Organization, the use of mobile phones has not yet caused any negative effects on health.
France’s Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR) told Apple on Tuesday to halt sales of the iPhone 12 in France after tests said the phone’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) – a measure of the rate of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body from a piece of equipment Gauge – was more than legally allowed.
The watchdog said it would send agents to Apple Stores and other distributors to check that the model is no longer being sold and that failure to do so could result in iPhones already sold to customers. 12 will be withdrawn.
Industry experts said there are no safety risks because regulatory limits on SAR are set far below levels where scientists have found evidence of harm.
“From a health and safety perspective, it’s not like it’s putting anyone at risk,” said Professor Rodney Croft, head of the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which sets global guidelines. compiles Limitations of SAR.
The limits – based on the risk of burns or heat stroke from the phone’s radiation – have already been set ten times below the level where scientists have found evidence of harm.
Croft said the French results may differ from those recorded by other regulators because the ANFR assesses radiation in a way that assumes direct skin contact between the device and the user without intervening textile layers. does.
A French government source also said that the French test was different from the one used by Apple.
As a result of smartphone radiation tests, 42 cells have been shut down in the country so far. This is the first time that Apple has been affected by such a move.
Remember the threat.
ANFR said accredited labs found the iPhone 12 absorbed 5.74 watts per kilogram of electromagnetic energy through the body during tests while holding the iPhone 12 in the hand or in a trouser pocket. The European standard has a specific absorption rate of 4.0 watts per kilogram.
ANFR added that tests showed the phone complied with so-called body SAR standards when it was in a jacket pocket or bag. It also passed French tests when held directly to the head as if the phone were making a call.
Jean-Noel Barot, France’s junior minister for the digital economy, said a software update would be enough to fix the radiation problems.
“Apple is expected to respond within two weeks,” he told Le Parisien daily in an interview on Tuesday, adding: “If they fail to do so, I will withdraw all the ones in circulation.” Ready to order a recall on the iPhone 12. Same for everyone, including the digital giants.”
ANFR will now communicate its findings to regulators in other EU member states. “In practical terms, this decision could have a snowball effect,” Birot said.
Germany’s BNetzA network regulator said, “The procedure in France serves as a guide for the whole of Europe”, adding that it could initiate similar proceedings in Germany.
Germany’s radiation watchdog BfS also said the French decision could have ramifications across Europe.
Apple doesn’t break down its sales by country or model. Its revenue in Europe last year was about $95 billion, making the region the second largest after the US. According to some estimates, it sold more than 50 million iPhones in Europe last year. The company launched the iPhone 15 on Tuesday.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, which sets global guidelines on SAR limits, in 2011 classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phone use as “possibly carcinogenic”. Classified.
The designation – which also includes the sweetener aspartame, aloe vera extract and some pickled vegetables – flags limited evidence of possible cancer-causing potential, and is intended to encourage further research. .