France orders Apple to pull iPhone 12 over radiation fears


iPhone 12 mini
Apple doit réparer l'iPhone 12 dès que possible.
Photo: Lyle Kahney/Cult of Mac

The iPhone 12 can no longer be sold in France. The handset reportedly emits more electromagnetic radiation than is allowed in that country, and retailers have been ordered to take it off its shelves.

The order applies to only one model that Apple released in 2020. And the problem is fixable with a software patch.

iPhone 12 users: Don’t panic

The word “radiation” scares people, but radiation isn’t by definition dangerous. The warmth you feel from a cozy fire is infrared radiation, for instance. But just as too much infrared radiation can burn you, too much of the radiation cell phones emit is bad. That’s why government agencies closely monitor it, and put limits on it.

And the French Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR) recently retested the iPhone 12 and found that the phone exceeds the allowable amount.

Its two tests found that with the device being held, the hand is absorbing 5.74 Watts/kg, which is over the limit of 4 W/kg. But in a second test for when the handset is being carried and the handset is 5mm away from the user, the iPhone emits under the allowable amount.

It’s a software problem

Considering the iPhone 12 launched in 2020 and is old enough to be nearly off the market, one might wonder why this wasn’t noticed before. It seems the problem is new and is caused by bad software.

Jean-Noel Barrot, France’s junior minister for the digital economy, told Le Parisien that Apple just needs to release a software patch to reduce the amount of EM radiation emitted until it’s back under the limit, according to Reuters.

The ANFR is serious about making Apple release that patch as quickly as possible, though.

“Apple must immediately adopt all necessary measures to prevent the iPhone 12 in the supply chain from being made available on the market,” the agency said in a statement released Tuesday. “As for those telephones that are already in use, Apple must adopt all necessary corrective measures to bring the telephones into conformity as soon as possible, otherwise, Apple will have to recall the equipment.”


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