As expected, Apple is going to address France's radiation watchdog's (ANFR) concerns with a software update for the iPhone 12. Earlier this week, the French agency released a public statement announcing that the iPhone 12 breaches radiation levels. It also told Apple that it should halt iPhone 12 sales and release a fix as quickly as possible.
“We will issue a software update for users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators. We look forward to iPhone 12 continuing to be available in France,” an Apple spokesperson told Reuters, AFP and Euronews in a statement. “This is related to a specific testing protocol used by French regulators and not a safety concern.”
When a phone manufacturer releases a new phone, the ANFR measures several Specific Absorption Rates (SAR) in its labs. There are different radiation agencies around the world and it is a common process for hardware makers.
For instance, the European Union says that a human body shouldn't receive more than 2W/kg of radiations over 10g of tissue. This is used as a way to mimic what happens to your head when you're holding your phone to your ear.
While Apple is below this threshold with the iPhone 12, the ANFR tracks another absorption rate for limbs. This time, the French agency tries to understand what happens to your hand when you're holding your phone, or your leg when your phone is in your pants pocket.
In that case, the ANFR measured a SAR of 5.74 W/kg, which is above the limit of 4 W/kg. Oops!
Several experts said that the iPhone 12 is still well below the radiation limit which creates some serious risks. But of course, when you break the rules, you have to do something about it.
You may have heard that Apple unveiled some brand-new phones this week. In just a few hours, the iPhone 12 radiation level became the sujet du jour. A French minister gave a newspaper interview and Reuters tried to make a big deal out of it — the Dutch digital watchdog sought an explanation, Belgium started its own review and Germany's telecom regulator reached out to the French regulator(!).
From the very beginning, the French agency said that the issue would be fixed with a software update to tweak the iPhone 12 internals and meet the regulatory requirements. Otherwise, Apple would have had to recall all iPhone 12 devices in France — and the company certainly wants to avoid that.
The regulator was right, everything else was just noise. In other words, this iPhone 12 issue will be fixed in a few days and we will all have forgotten about it in a few weeks.