Apple's iPhone 12: France Radiation Update

Apple's iPhone 12

Apple has taken swift action to resolve concerns raised by French authorities regarding radiation emissions from the iPhone 12. This proactive approach aims to prevent a potential sales ban of the iPhone 12 in France. Apple plans to issue a software update to address these concerns and ensure compliance with French regulations.

France has distinct testing protocols for radiofrequency (RF) emissions, including Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values for limbs, in addition to the standard head and body measurements followed by most other countries. In recent testing, the iPhone 12 was found to have RF emissions exceeding permissible levels by 43.5% in limb SAR testing.


The controversy began when the National Frequency Agency of France (Agence Nationale des Fréquences - ANFR) imposed a ban on the sale of iPhone 12 models in the country. This action was prompted by evidence suggesting that the iPhone 12 exceeded the legal SAR limit, indicating higher levels of electromagnetic radiation than allowed by French regulations.

Apple's response to this situation has been to commit to releasing an Over-The-Air (OTA) software update. This update is specifically designed to align with the testing protocols established by French regulators. Apple has emphasized that this issue pertains to regulatory testing methods rather than any safety concerns related to the iPhone 12.

French Government's Response

The French government has welcomed Apple's commitment to address the concerns raised by ANFR. They have expressed their intent to expedite testing procedures to enable the resumption of iPhone 12 sales in the country. Importantly, no similar concerns have been reported regarding other models of the iPhone 12 series.

It's noteworthy that Apple officially ceased sales of the iPhone 12 series in September 2022. However, these devices can still be obtained from various third-party retailers.

SAR Values and Regulations

To understand the context better, it's essential to delve into SAR values and their significance. SAR values indicate the amount of RF energy absorbed by the human body from a source device. These values are established and regulated by organizations such as the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

ICNIRP sets specific restrictions on SAR values for different groups, including workers and the general public. These restrictions encompass values for the entire body as well as specific regions. For example, in the case of the general public, a maximum SAR value of 2 W/kg is permissible for the head and torso, while the limbs can have values of up to 4 W/kg, averaged over 10 grams of tissue mass.

It's worth noting that countries can define their own SAR values, which may be more stringent than ICNIRP recommendations. Phone manufacturers must adhere to these values to legally sell their devices in those markets.

Limitations of SAR Values

While SAR values serve as a crucial metric for assessing RF emissions, they have limitations. SAR values alone do not provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of RF emissions from a phone on an individual. They primarily serve as a benchmark to ensure that a phone does not emit excessive RF radiation. Moreover, SAR values are not directly comparable across different devices.

According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the SAR value displayed on a device's box represents the highest SAR value under worst-case or highest power consumption conditions. In practice, the actual SAR value can vary due to various factors. These factors include the efficiency of the phone's radio, the location of the mobile signal, how the user holds the phone, and the use of hands-free accessories.


Apple's swift response to the radiation concerns raised by French authorities reflects the company's commitment to compliance with regulatory standards. The forthcoming software update tailored to French testing protocols is expected to address the issues identified in the limb SAR testing of the iPhone 12. This development is likely to pave the way for the resumption of iPhone 12 sales in France, ensuring that customers can continue to enjoy Apple's innovative technology without compromise.

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