French Regulators Order Apple to Halt Sales of iPhone 12 Over Radiation Concerns
The French government agency responsible for managing wireless communications frequencies has ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhone 12 in France due to concerns over its radiation levels. The agency claims that the device emits electromagnetic radiation levels that exceed the European Union (EU) standards for exposure. However, Apple has disputed these findings and insists that the iPhone 12 complies with all regulations.
The order was issued after the iPhone 12 failed one of the two types of tests for electromagnetic waves capable of being absorbed by the body. It is unclear why only this particular model failed the test and why it did not pass the agency's previous tests. The agency has called on Apple to fix the issue for phones already in use and has stated that if the updates do not work, a recall of the devices may be necessary.
The National Frequency Agency in France tested 141 cellphones and found that when the iPhone 12 is held in a hand or carried in a pocket, its level of electromagnetic energy absorption is 5.74 watts per kilogram, higher than the EU standard of 4 watts per kilogram. However, the agency did note that the phone passed a separate test for radiation levels when the device is kept in a jacket or bag.
Despite the order from French regulators, France's digital minister, Jean-Noel Barrot, has stated that the radiation levels of the iPhone 12 are still lower than levels considered harmful by scientific studies. He also pointed out that the agency's tests do not reflect typical phone use, as the phone only transmits during calls when the user is speaking, and calls rarely last for the six-minute test duration. Barrot suggested that a software update could resolve the radiation issue.
Experts have weighed in on the situation, with some stating that the current regulatory limits on radiation are already set well below levels that have been proven to cause harm. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has stated that the French findings may differ from those of other regulators due to differences in testing methods.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified cellphones as “possible” carcinogens, but studies have not definitively shown a clear link between mobile phone use and adverse health effects. While the French order has raised concerns, it is important to note that no adverse health effects have been established from mobile phone use, according to the WHO.
The French order to halt sales of the iPhone 12 has raised the prospect of further bans in Europe. Germany's network regulator, BNetzA, has stated that it may launch similar proceedings and is in contact with French authorities. Spain's OCU consumers' group has also urged authorities to halt the sales of the iPhone 12.
Apple has defended its iPhone 12 model, stating that it has been certified by multiple international bodies and meets global radiation standards. The company has provided the French agency with lab results from both Apple and third-party labs, demonstrating the phone's compliance. Apple is contesting the findings and will respond within two weeks as requested by the French government.
The French agency will now share its findings with regulators in other EU member states. The decision in France could have a snowball effect, leading to similar actions in other countries. The impact of the French order on Apple's sales and revenues in Europe, where it generated approximately $95 billion last year, remains to be seen.