Just a few hours after Apple unveiled the iPhone 15 and iPhone 15 Pro, France’s radiation watchdog (ANFR) released a public statement announcing that the iPhone 12 breaches radiation levels. The watchdog notified Apple of the findings and told the company that it should temporarily halt iPhone 12 sales and release a fix as quickly as possible. Following the iPhone 15 release, Apple stopped selling the iPhone 12 yesterday anyway.
“The French National Frequencies Agency (ANFR) is instructing Apple to withdraw the iPhone 12 from the French market as of September 12, 2023, after the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) limit for this model was exceeded,” the French agency wrote in a statement. “ANFR enjoins Apple to implement all available means to rapidly remedy this malfunction. Failing this, Apple will be required to recall any units already sold.”
More specifically, the ANFR measures several Specific Absorption Rates in its labs. The most common EU SAR limit of 2 W/kg represents an average over 10 g of tissue absorbing the most signal. In normal language, it is a good indicator of what’s happening in your head when your holding your phone to your ear. This limit is a bit higher than the FCC limit in the U.S. (1.6 W/kg). Apple complies with this SAR limit.
But the ANFR also measured the absorption rate for limbs — when you’re holding the phone in your hand or when it’s in your pants pocket. In that case, the ANFR measured an SAR of 5.74 W/kg, which is above the limit of 4 W/kg.
On the business front, this isn’t as dramatic as it appears as Apple can roll out a software update to fix the issue. The company will most likely try to find a software solution in order to avoid recalls.
France’s junior minister for telecommunications Jean-Noël Barrot told Le Parisien that Apple has a couple of weeks to comply with French regulations before further action. But the timing of this interview is interesting as well.
As Next INpact pointed out, this isn’t the first time the ANFR identifies a device with an issue over radiation levels. But it’s the first time that a French minister gives an interview to a major newspaper when the ANFR releases its public announcement. All eyes are on Apple, so the French minister is using this opportunity to start a media campaign.
Apple told Reuters and the AFP that the iPhone 12 has been certified by several international regulators as compliant. It has independent third-party lab results that show that it complies with all SAR standards around the world. The company plans to both contest the ANFR’s results and engage with the agency to find a way forward.