As a response to the halt, the gadget manufacturer Apple contested the findings, claiming that the iPhone 12 was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with global standards. However, they plan to issue an over-the-air update in the coming days for the particular handset model users to accommodate the testing methods used in France.
"After discussions and as requested by the ANFR, Apple has assured me that it will be rolling out an update for the iPhone 12 in the next few days," France's minister for the digital economy Jean-Noel Barrot posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, Friday. He said: "The wave levels that smartphones emit can vary during a software update. It is undoubtedly because of an update after its release that the iPhone 12 exceeded the authorized threshold. And it is a simple update that will bring it back into compliance."
Les niveaux d'ondes que les smartphones émettent peuvent varier lors d'une mise à jour logicielle. C'est sans doute à cause d'une mise à jour après sa sortie que l'iPhone 12 a dépassé le seuil autorisé. Et c'est une simple mise à jour qui permettra de le remettre en conformité. pic.twitter.com/eW2LhPcHAs
— Jean-Noël Barrot (@jnbarrot) September 13, 2023
The tests are carried out at a diagnostic lab that uses a liquid-filled mold simulating a human head and body with brain and muscle tissue. Devices transmit at maximum power for the six-minute test, the agency said on its website, acknowledging that the tests "do not reflect the most common use of a telephone."
During calls, the phone only transmits half the time, when the user is speaking, and calls rarely last six minutes, the agency said. Mobile internet or video use lasts longer, but the phone "rarely transmits more than 10 percent of the time," it added.
The regulator said the phones are analyzed both when they are near the body, like when they are held or inside the pocket, and when they are at a distance of five millimeters, such as in a bag. The limit when the phone is with a person is four watts per kilogram (W/kg), but the iPhone 12 was at 5.74 W/kg, the agency said. The phone did not break the threshold, however, when it was at a distance, it added. "The level is more than ten times lower than the level at which there would be a health risk," Barrot tweeted. "But the rule is the rule: Apple must comply."
Meanwhile, the said radiation warning triggered concern across Europe, the news outlet reported. Belgium's state secretary for digitalization said he had asked the Big Tech firm to upgrade the iPhone 12 software across EU countries. Germany said it was in touch with French authorities to find a European Union-wide solution, while Italy was set to ask Apple to upgrade the software on iPhone 12s there, according to a government source in Rome.
The Dutch Authority for Digital Infrastructure said it was also conducting its own investigation due in two weeks, and was in contact with the world's largest technology company as well as German and French authorities. The agency said it had received calls from concerned consumers.
Cell phones have been labeled as "possible" carcinogens by the World Health Organization's cancer research arm, putting them in the same category as coffee, diesel fumes, and the pesticide Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). (Related: Exposure to microwaves and cell phone radiation causes dangerous free radicals called PEROXYNITRITES to accumulate in the body.)
As radiation exposure from the particular gadget became a continent-wide concern, Bloomberg covered another controversy brewing. According to the media portal, Apple instructed its technical support staff to stay silent when customers inquired about the radiation issue. For instance, if iPhone users ask about the French government's claim that the model exceeds standards for electromagnetic radiation, workers should say they don't have anything to share.
They were also instructed to reject customers' requests to return or exchange the phone unless it was purchased in the past two weeks, which they would cite as Apple's normal return policy. The guidance further directed the employees to assure customers that the certain phone model is safe to use as all of their products go through rigorous testing to ensure this since it was introduced in 2020.
Meanwhile, the electromagnetic radiation concerns came out the same week the Cupertino, California-based tech giant unveiled the iPhone 15 and the iPhone 15 Pro, its newest iterations of the product, at its annual keynote event in California.