French government Wednesday announced to halt sales of Apple’s iPhone 12, citing concerns about the device emitting excessive electromagnetic radiation.
The French regulatory authority responsible for overseeing radio frequencies, ANFR, has also called on Apple to address the issue in existing phones. This move has sparked a notable clash between the tech giant and French authorities.
The ANFR has conveyed to Apple that if a software update cannot resolve the radiation problem, the company must initiate a recall of every iPhone 12 ever sold in France. The iPhone 12, initially released in September 2020, remains available for purchase worldwide.
Apple, in response, has contested the ANFR’s findings and indicated that it has provided the regulator with lab results from both its own research and third-party sources, all of which demonstrate the device’s compliance with relevant regulations. The company asserts that the iPhone 12 meets radiation-level requirements in various jurisdictions across the globe.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously attempted to allay concerns regarding the radiation emitted by mobile phones. On its website, the WHO states that there is no evidence suggesting that exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields poses harm to humans.
France’s digital minister, Jean-Noel Barrot, revealed that the decision to halt iPhone 12 sales was prompted by radiation levels exceeding the acceptable threshold, particularly in terms of the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
The SAR measures the rate at which the body absorbs electromagnetic energy when using a mobile device. For close contact situations, such as holding the phone or placing it in a trouser pocket, the SAR limit is set at four watts per kilogram.
The ANFR found that the iPhone 12’s SAR for such situations exceeded this limit, registering at 5.74 watts per kilogram.
Barrot indicated that Apple has a two-week window to respond to the ANFR’s findings. Should the company fail to address the concerns adequately, France is prepared to order a recall of all iPhone 12 devices in circulation. Barrot emphasised that the rule applies universally, including to tech giants like Apple.
France plans to share its findings with regulatory authorities throughout the European Union, potentially sparking a “snowball effect” of actions against the iPhone 12 across the trading bloc.
In a somewhat coincidental development, Apple unveiled its new iPhone 15 on the same day the news of the iPhone 12’s sales halt broke in France.
The iPhone 15 introduces a novel charging port, a departure from previous models, and Apple intends to offer adapters to allow users to utilise their existing cables.
Meanwhile, the Chinese foreign ministry has refuted media reports suggesting that government agencies had instructed their staff to cease using iPhones. China clarified that it has not issued any laws, regulations, or policies that block the use of Apple’s products.