Apple said yesterday its iPhone 12 model was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global radiation standards after a French watchdog ordered it to stop selling the handset on the grounds it breaches European exposure limits.
The ANFR radiation watchdog told Apple on Tuesday to halt sales of iPhone 12s in France after tests which it said showed the phone's Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) – a measure of the rate of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body from a piece of equipment – was higher than legally allowed.
The Agence Nationale des Fréquences, or ANFR, said it would send agents to Apple stores and other distributors to check the model was no longer being sold.
The agency, which manages France's radio frequencies and periodically tests phones to check human exposure to electromagnetic waves, said it expected Apple “to deploy all available means to put an end to the non-compliance”.
A failure to act would result in the recall of iPhone 12s already sold to consumers, it added.
Apple said it had provided ANFR with multiple Apple and independent third-party laboratory results proving its compliance with all applicable SAR regulations and standards in the world.
It said it was contesting the results of AFNR's review and would continue to engage with the agency to show it was compliant.
The AFNR said accredited laboratories had found absorption of electromagnetic energy by the body at 5.74 watts per kilogram during tests simulating when the phone was being held in the hand or kept in a trouser pocket. The European standard is a specific absorption rate of 4W/kg
ANFR added the tests showed the phone complied with so-called “body-SAR” standards when it was in a jacket pocket or bag.
France's junior minister for the digital economy, Jean-Noel Barrot, said a software update would be sufficient to fix the radiation issues linked to the phone, which the US company has been selling since 2020.
“Apple is expected to respond within two weeks”, he said on Tuesday, adding: “If they fail to do so, I am prepared to order a recall of all iPhones 12 in circulation. The rule is the same for everyone, including the digital giants.”
Apple launched the iPhone 15 on Tuesday.
The ANFR said it had recently tested 141 mobile phone models, including the iPhone 12. “If Apple chooses to update its phones, it shall be verified by the ANFR,” the agency said.
The EU has set safety limits for SAR values linked to exposure to mobile phones, which could increase the risk of some forms of cancer, according to scientific studies.
The French watchdog will now pass on its findings to regulators in other EU member states. “In practical terms, this decision could have a snowball effect,” said Barrot.
Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone 15 drew mixed reactions in its third largest market of China yesterday, with many online users liking its faster chip and improved gaming capabilities while others preferred Huawei's new smartphone.
China remains key for the US tech giant.
Shares in Apple and its suppliers were battered last week after reports that Chinese government agencies and state firms were banning staff from using the phone and Huawei launched a new smartphone with an advanced chip, seen as an effort by the Chinese firm for a comeback.
The unveiling of Apple's iPhone 15 attracted intense discussion online yesterday.
Many cheered the iPhone 15 Pro's new 3 nanometer chip and Apple's pitch that console-quality games such as Resident Evil 4 Remake, can be played on the device, appealing to China's army of mobile gamers.
But several social media users had misgivings about choosing an American brand over a domestically made rival, especially after state media applauded the roll out of Huawei's Mate 60 Pro earlier this month as a triumph by China over US sanctions.