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France could force Apple to recall every iPhone 12 over radiation concerns

Apple has been asked to stop selling the iPhone 12, which it already did with the launch of the iPhone 15 series.

Published onSeptember 12, 2023

iPhone 12 in hand back 1
David Imel / Android Authority
  • France has ordered that Apple no longer sell the iPhone 12 in the country, as the phone exceeds its SAR limits.
  • The company needs to update existing iPhone 12 units to bring the SAR value within the limit. If it fails to do so within 15 days, France could order the company to recall the product, and actions could extend to Europe.
  • Apple has already stopped the sale of iPhone 12 as the iPhone 15 lineup has just launched.

Apple has just announced the new iPhone 15 series, finally switching to USB-C. Getting USB-C on the iPhone is crucial, as it would let the company continue selling its phones in the EU, where USB-C is set to become mandatory in 2024. However, the company seems to have run into some fresh trouble in the Old Continent, as sales of the older iPhone 12 have been halted in France over radiation concerns.

As announced by the Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR), Apple is no longer allowed to sell the iPhone 12 in France (h/t Frandroid). The country’s regulatory authority on radio frequencies has presented the company with a formal notice to withdraw the model from sale and to bring the iPhone 12 units already sold in the region into compliance. This is because the iPhone 12 exceeds the SAR limits specified by France’s regulations.

As the iPhone 15 has been launched, Apple has already trimmed its portfolio worldwide, with the iPhone 12 no longer being officially sold by the company anywhere. However, this regulatory decision would affect any residual stock in France, including carriers and third-party retailers.

Further, Apple must make iPhone 12 devices already sold in the region compliant with the permissible SAR limits. Apple has fifteen days to roll out an update to achieve this.

The ANFR seems confident that the company could bring the electromagnetic waves transmitted by this particular phone under control. But suppose it doesn’t; in that case, Apple might be forced to issue a recall for the iPhone 12, as mentioned by Le Parisien, quoting the concerned government official. Even further, the measures could be extended to the European Union as the ANFR has transmitted its findings to similar governing bodies across the continent.

SAR, or Specific Absorption Rate, is the rate at which energy is absorbed by the human body when it is exposed to radio frequency and electromagnetic fields. It is measured in Watts per kilogram. The SAR limit in France is 4 W/kg when a phone is held in hand or in the trouser pocket, while the iPhone 12 was said to exceed this limit at 5.74 W/kg. These results were said to be corroborated by an independent body.

Even with the news, do not panic. The minimum threshold for impacting the human body in any way is supposed to be 40 W/kg, which is many scales ahead of the regulatory limit. Lower values are preferred due to the multiplicity of devices around us and prolonged exposure. The SAR limit in the US is set at 1.6 W/kg by the FCC.

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