Galaxy S4 vs iPhone 5: Samsung smartphone wins radiation battle with 0.30W/kg SAR

by: Chris SmithMarch 13, 2013

samsung galaxy s4 teaser header

The Galaxy S4 will be officially unveiled only tomorrow during a special New York-based media event, but it looks like one particular characteristic for the device has been leaked via Taiwan, its Specific Absorption Rate (or SAR).

The data has been found by Tawkon in a document from the Taiwanese National Communications Commission (NCC) and we’re looking at an improvement for Samsung when it comes to radiation levels for its high-end Galaxy devices.

In case you have no idea what SAR is or why it’s important, we’ll tell you that it measures the energy absorbed by the human body when exposed to a radio frequency electromagnetic field such as the ones generated by mobile devices (you can check out our video interview with Tawkon below, for more information on phones radiation).

The Galaxy S4 will apparently have a SAR of 0.30W/kg (lower is always better). Comparatively, the Galaxy S3 has a SAR of 0.342W/kg, but the Galaxy S4 is bested by other Galaxy devices including the Galaxy Nexus (0.303W/kg,) the Galaxy S2 (0.240W/kg,) and the Galaxy Note (0.209W/kg.)


Obviously, the Galaxy S4 will be compared with the iPhone 5 when it comes to various characteristics so let’s check out the SAR for Apple’s current flagship model. Depending on what iPhone 5 model we’re looking at, we get a SAR value of 0.95W/kg (European version) or 1.18W/kg (U.S. version).

Even though the Galaxy S4 beats the iPhone 5 when it comes to radiation levels, both handsets are within the legal SAR limits. In the U.S., that’s set at 1.6W/kg over 1 gram of tissue while in the EU, the limit is a 2.0W/kg over 10g of tissue. The NCC has the same SAR standard as the FCC.

In order to be approved for sale, all handsets have to have a SAR that’s within those limits, and SAR information for each device is always available to the public. It’s also worth mentioning that the declared levels describe the maximum SAR per device, with the actual SAR fluctuating under those levels depending on how the device is used.

Do you consider SAR when purchasing your smartphones?

  • cycad007

    Radiation isn’t the first metric most people will use (if at all)…but its nice to know that government agencies are testing/checking for this.

  • Calamity Sam

    Just learned something new today, thank you, where is this type of info usually found?

  • MasterMuffin

    I don’t think anyone considers that :)

    • Pit


      • MasterMuffin

        Correction: 99.9%.

  • Jusephe

    SAR levels for iPhone 5 are for 3G (in Europe ) and 4G (in US)
    SAR levels for samsung devices is for Wi-Fi
    iPhone 5 on Wi-Fi got from 0,07 to 0,13

    Wow incredible one thing where is iPhone 5 better ! Instead of fry your brain in 30 years it will take 45 if you have an iPhone ! It’s a killer feature !

    • kascollet

      Thanks for correcting this.
      SAR exposure measures are way more complicated than one single value.
      See :,1/en/

    • Pit

      This is not true. You need to compare apple to apple (no jokes here :-)). The number you see is usually the US one for the cell antenna. You don’t know what S4 has for wifi and I have my doubts that the iphone is better because as you say, they are killers machines!

  • NicholasMicallef

    Holy crap it destroys the iPhone… not that anyone cares bout this xD…

  • Free At Last

    Now I know why my iPhoney burnt a hole in my pocket.

  • yungqb7

    So the GS4 is safer and a better phone. Music to my ears lol

    • kascollet

      The article just said “safer”. Better is another land to conquer… tomorrow !

    • Alex Hinamori

      No, it’s not safer. This number has an insanely huge margin of safety in it already and no modern mobile phone is even remotely a risk. RF is not ionising radiation. This isn’t X-rays or the like, it’s non-ionizing radiation with LESS energy than visible light (which is also a form of radiation)

      • handsburn

        Then why does my s3 give my hands blisters and start burning them as soon as I pick it up?

        • Allie’s World

          I don’t know because you’ve got a mental problem or, if true, a bad phone with a battery that’s overheating and needs returned ASAP. My instinct says what you’re experiencing is psychosis, though.

  • Alex Haua

    I’m one of the small percentage of the population that is sensitive to EMFs and cell phone radiation; I get a uniqe headache and even chest pain when exposed. Some people may feel like I’m being paranoid; however, I’ve been able to pick up significant EMF radiation when I had no knowledge that it was nearby…and it was then verified with meters. In either case, It’s been somewhat of a curse because it limits which smartphone I can use. The SAR rating alone can be misleading because of how it’s determined. In addition, cell phones are also putting out EMF radiation in addition to RF radiation. Also, the newer smartphones are extremely active in radiation emision because they’re sending and receiving so much data now. I tried the Samsung S 3 and was excited that Samsung was attempting to manufacture phones with lower SAR ratings. Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep the phone due to symptoms and I tried everything…even forcing it into 3 G mode. Kudos to Samsung for trying to make more human friendly phones though. I’m still stuck with my Blackberry Storm, which I can tolerate for some reason. I’m gonna give the S 4 a try….my search continues…

    • Alex Hinamori

      You mean, you’re one of a small percentage of the population who believes you’re sensitive to something, therefore you suffer a placebo side effect.

    • ravi

      Even i am having similar symptoms and i am electro sensitive since last 4 yrs.. Not able to use mobile now.. I hv limited phn use with wifi in airplane mode which somehow i am surviving.

    • Fausto Paiva

      The big problem is that smartphone companies don’t want that you know about SAR bad consequences to human health. Apple just blocked tawkon from app store. It is like cigar, sugar, beer, maybe in future people will avoid this kind of technology because brain tumors, headache, infertility etc.

    • Jason Newton

      Alex Haua, I am hoping you still receive messages from this thread. I am an EMF sensitive person myself and am in search of a smart phone that will be suitable. It sounds like we have similar conditions and at one time you were going through this same search for a smart phone. I am hoping you can help me out by giving me some information on what you ended up finding. Thank you so much for your time and effort.

  • Alex Hinamori

    A phone with a lower SAR isn’t safer. It’s a rather meaningless number – if the power output is the same, it’s just being directed differently. If the power output is lower at peak, it just means it’s going to drop calls quicker – it’ll reach it’s max power sooner. Due to dynamic power control used on all modern networks, normal RF levels will be far lower than the SAR rating. Additionally, even at the SAR rating, you’re far below the level at which any heating of the brain (thermal effects) are known to occur – there is an enormous margin of safety built-in to these limits. This is not IONIZING radiation that causes cancer. It’s RF radiation, which is non-ionizing. It’s only known effect is heating and these levels are far below any concern. Thus, no phone is safer than any other phone based on it’s SAR rating.

    • Sveinn Kjartans

      Alex Hinamori: so this is why WHO/IARC categorized this non-harming non-ionizing radiation as “possibly carcinogenic” in 2011? Because it possibly doesn’t harm you?!?

  • Dabid

    I’m glad we have doctors in the house that have tested if cell phones cause cancer because they’ve only been used as they are now for about 15 years, not long enough to tell much regarding health. Also, on another front, everything that’s taught about History is false as well, considering we weren’t around 16 billion years ago and none of the missing links have been found. Praise Jesus as His word, the Holy Bible, has filled in these gaps. God bless.

    This explains a lot:

  • Mary Tsy

    Really safe level of SAR is not more then 0,58. Of course if you do not want to have a brain canser after 10 years of intensive using your telephone. It is a scientific data.

  • Delicia

    Yes, I pay attention to the SAR when purchasing a phone. It gets a little confusing when you see different make and models on different sites.

  • Symin

    this is exactly why i refuse to have a cell phone.