iPhone’s MagSafe poses low risk to people with implanted medical devices

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According to the FDA, there’s little risk to implanted medical devices from magnets in phones and watches.
Photo: Apple

After Apple warned users of implanted medical devices to avoid iPhone 12 and MagSafe accessories, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration weighed in to say that the danger to pacemakers and defibrillators from magnets built into electronic devices is low.

MagSafe is an improved wireless charging system that uses magnets built into the back of the handset to align it with a charger.

The suggestion to (mostly) relax about MagSafe came from Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “We believe the risk to patients is low and the agency is not aware of any adverse events associated with this issue at this time,” said the doctor in a statement.

This is the conclusion of tests done by the FDA.

FDA MagSafe recommendations

While the U.S. government agency says it’s safe for someone with an implanted pacemaker or defibrillator to own an iPhone 12 series model, they should keep the handset six inches away from the medical device. That includes not carrying the iPhone in a chest pocket.

Those mirror Apple’s own recommendation for safely dealing with products with MagSafe. And these suggestions hold for any strong magnet — keep them all away from implanted medical devices.

The risk comes from the phone or watch putting the medical device into “magnet mode” in which it temporarily stops operating. This feature was added to allow for safe operation during medical procedures like an MRI scan.

This is not the end of the story. “The FDA will continue to monitor the effects of consumer electronics on the safe operation of implanted medical devices,” promised Shuren.