What just happened? Belgium, Germany, and other European nations have said they will or could examine the health risks of the iPhone 12 after France banned the device from sale due to its radiation levels being above the allowed threshold.
It was reported yesterday that the ANFR, the French agency that regulates radio frequencies, had notified Apple of its decision to ban iPhone 12 sales after tests showed the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) exceeded the allowed limit. The ANFR said accredited labs had measured absorption of electromagnetic energy by the body at 5.74 watts per kilogram during tests simulating the phone being held in the hand or kept in a pocket, higher than the European standard absorption rate of 4.0 watts per kilogram.
France’s junior minister for the digital economy, Jean-Noël Barrot, said, “In practical terms, this decision could have a snowball effect.”
Reuters reports that Germany is watching the situation closely. The country’s network regulator said it would also examine the iPhone 12’s radiation concerns if France’s probe advances sufficiently. Germany’s network regulator BNetzA added that the work in France could act as a guide for Europe as a whole.
Belgium said it would review the potential health risks linked to the iPhone 12’s radiation levels. Mathieu Michel, Belgium’s state secretary for digitalization, said in a statement that he had reached out to the country’s regulator to ask for an analysis about the potential danger of the 2020 handset.
The Netherlands is also looking into the matter and intends to ask Apple for an explanation, though the country’s digital watchdog said there was “no acute safety risk.” Italy is also monitoring the situation, and Spain’s consumer association is urging an iPhone 12 ban similar to France’s. Britain has not announced any plans.
Apple says it has provided France’s ANFR with multiple Apple and independent third-party lab results proving its compliance with all applicable SAR regulations and standards in the world. The company added that it was contesting the results of ANFR’s review and would continue to engage with the agency to show it is compliant.
The World Health Organization website states that numerous studies have shown “no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.” The safety limit thresholds, based on the risk of burns or heatstroke from the phone’s radiation, are set well below those levels where scientists have found evidence of harm.
Given that it’s a three-year-old model, a ban on iPhone 12 sales in multiple European countries is unlikely to significantly impact the $95 billion revenue Apple generates from sales in the continent.