Apple expands list of products to keep away from medical devices

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MagSafe-enabled products like the iPhone 12 and chargers are on Apple's warning list.
MagSafe-enabled products like the iPhone 12 and chargers are on Apple's warning list.
Photo: Apple

Apple has posted a longer and more detailed list of products that it recommends you keep “safe distance away” from medical devices to avoid magnetic interference that might endanger your health.

The list includes most of the company’s products. Its release follows the company’s previous warning, after which the U.S. Food and Drug administration noted that danger to medical device funtionality from device magnets like those found in Apples MagSafe products is fairly low.

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

A matter of close contact

Apple acknowledged that magnets and electromagnetic fields associated with some of its devices might interfere with medical equipment. Implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain sensors that respond to magnets and radios when in close contact, for example.

“To avoid any potential interactions with these types of medical devices, keep your Apple product a safe distance away from your medical device (more than 6 inches / 15 cm apart or more than 12 inches / 30 cm apart if wirelessly charging),” Apple said in its article with the updated product list. “Consult with your physician and your device manufacturer for specific guidelines.”

Apple has also said if someone suspects their Apple product interfered with a medical advice, they should stop using the Apple product immediately. They should consult with their physician and the medical device’s manufacturer.

Recent research and concerns

Research into the dangers of device proximity is limited, but has raised serious questions.

In January, researchers at the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute researchers placed an iPhone 12 over the heart of a patient with a Medtronic implanted cardioverter-defibrillator. Each time, the device’s operations suspended, they reported.

Recently, an American Heart Association study examined the impact of an iPhone 12 Pro Max on a larger scale with various devices. The research found that several people tested had “magnetic susceptibility.”

The product list

Here are the products Apple notes contain magnets. The company says they should be kept a safe distance from medical devices.

AirPods and charging cases

  • AirPods and Charging Case
  • AirPods and Wireless Charging Case
  • AirPods Pro and Wireless Charging Case
  • AirPods Max and Smart Case

Apple Watch and accessories

  • Apple Watch
  • Apple Watch bands with magnets
  • Apple Watch magnetic charging accessories

HomePod

  • HomePod
  • HomePod mini

iPad and accessories

  • iPad
  • iPad mini
  • iPad Air
  • iPad Pro
  • iPad Smart Covers and Smart Folios
  • iPad Smart Keyboard and Smart Keyboard Folio
  • Magic Keyboard for iPad

iPhone and MagSafe accessories

  • iPhone 12 models
  • MagSafe accessories

Mac and accessories

  • Mac mini
  • Mac Pro
  • MacBook Air
  • MacBook Pro
  • iMac
  • Apple Pro Display XDR

Beats

  • Beats Flex
  • Beats X
  • PowerBeats Pro
  • UrBeats3

Other devices with magnets pose less risk

The company said other Apple products contain magnets, but those are unlikely to interfere with medical devices. Users can find out more information on those products in user manuals.

Apple did not specifically refer to its iPhone 12 lineup in its new warning language, though it is on the list. Back in January, Apple said that although the iPhone 12 lineup had more magnets than previous iPhones, it was “not expected” to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices than older models.

Not just Apple products

The problem of magnetic interference with medical devices is not limited to Apple products — far from it. Many devices in the world of consumer electronics have been known to cause magnetic interference.  They can include smartphones, headphones, radios, fitness monitors, smart watches and even vape pens.

The Food and Drug Administration also acknowledges the problem. It advises people to keep certain consumer electronic devices at least six inches away from implanted medical devices.