iPhone 11 Pro said to emit twice the FCC's legal limit for RF radiation

Posted:
in General Discussion edited February 2020
An independent lab claims that the iPhone 11 Pro emits over twice the FCC's legal limit for radio frequency emissions -- but as before, there are more questions than answers surrounding the testing, and no demonstrable health danger to the public at all.




According to California-based RF Exposure Lab, the iPhone 11 Pro exposes users to a Specific Absorption Rate of 3.8W/kg. The FCC's legal limit is set to 1.6W/kg. The tests were performed using the FCC's guidelines that suggest the iPhone should be tested from five millimeters away, but other testing methodologies are unclear at this time. For instance, it isn't clear if proximity sensors designed to reduce the broadcast RF power were triggered properly, or at all.

Previous iPhones had been the subject of similar scrutiny. Several had been the subject of a class-action lawsuit. However, the FCC performed a retest on the iPhones in question, which proved they operate within the legal limits.

All of the devices tested at the FCC's own lab -- not a contractor -- were under the maximum legal limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram or less, over 1 gram of tissue that is absorbing the most signal. The legal limit is derived from a safe limit, which is about 50 times higher.

Federal limits for RF exposure to the populace are extremely conservative, and the testing is performed in absolute worst-case conditions. While the levels seen by the experiment are above that limit, the iPhone models in question do not pose a safety or health hazard.

The US government sets several limits on exposure to just about everything. One is a safe limit, a second is an occupational limit, and the third is a non-occupational limit. In the case of radiofrequency exposure like from the iPhone, the occupational limit for industry workers is 10% of the safe limit, with the non-occupational limit set at 2% of the safe limit.

The US Food and Drug Administration has been running studies for 15 years on the subject. The FDA points out that there have been some studies showing minor effects from the devices, but they aren't reproducible. Both the FDA and WHO note that given the profoundly low levels of energy involved, it is nearly impossible to eliminate other causes producing the biological effects in the studies that did find an effect.

Those still concerned about RF exposure from an iPhone can use the speaker feature on the device to limit your exposure. Paradoxically, cases advertised as "RF shielding" force the iPhone to broadcast with more power and for longer duration to find and connect to Wi-Fi or wireless networks.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 28
    I call bs and/or clickbait. Any serious manufacturer knows about how to design and produce a conform product. Much more so, when it’s not the first time they develop one. And yes, given series production variation, there may be one phone or other that crosses the limit - slightly. Claiming they are far off likely indicates they didn’t measure properly. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 28
    ktappektappe Posts: 824member
    Hey, AI, why no link to where you found out about this story? I want to find out more about what they were testing; did this emissions finding only occur doing voice calls or does it happen all the time when the phone is just being used for data? Because you have no link, I went to RF Exposure Lab's website on my own and didn't find any reports; it seems they only let you read what they did if you pay them. As such, I'd discount their "finding" until we can examine their testing methodologies and their actual claims.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 28

    I heard about the independent lab. It’s called Samsung Mobile Communication.  

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 28
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,897administrator
    ktappe said:
    Hey, AI, why no link to where you found out about this story? I want to find out more about what they were testing; did this emissions finding only occur doing voice calls or does it happen all the time when the phone is just being used for data? Because you have no link, I went to RF Exposure Lab's website on my own and didn't find any reports; it seems they only let you read what they did if you pay them. As such, I'd discount their "finding" until we can examine their testing methodologies and their actual claims.
    We do not typically link to press releases, and as you noted, most of the company's data is behind a paywall.

    You may note we have discounted the findings.
    edited February 2020 viclauyycstevenozjdb8167watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 28
    melgrossmelgross Posts: 33,584member
    This was debunked over a week ago, maybe two weeks ago. Why bring it up now?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 28
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,897administrator
    melgross said:
    This was debunked over a week ago, maybe two weeks ago. Why bring it up now?
    This is a new one. The one from a month ago (time flies!) was by a different organization, with a transparently bad testing methodology.

    We're getting ahead of this one, because you'll see it soon elsewhere, like the Chicago Tribune testing from 2019.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,387member
    For whatever it's worth and according to RF Exposure Lab....


    Cell Phones

    All cell phone models must be tested to meet the SAR requirements for  most all countries around the world. All bands and technologies are  tested or evaluated against the requirements. The phone is tested using a  phantom head on both the right and left side of the head in a touch  configuration. The phone is also tested with the phone touching the ear  and tilted away from the cheek 15º. The phone is then moved to a flat  phantom to simulate the phone next to the body. It is tested with a  specified separation distance, which is included in the user’s guide.  The US requirements are listed in OET bulletin 65 Supplement C, KDB  447498, KDB 648474 and KDB 941225. The testing procedure for a handset  is described in IEEE1528-2005. The EU requirements are listed in IEC  62209 Parts 1 and 2.


    It appears the tests were done for Penumbra Brands who just happen to sell radiation-blocking cell phone cases. :/

    So with that in mind another quote FWIW:

    "Cellphone testing is self-regulated—the manufacturer supplies a phone to an independent lab for testing, and if the phone passes, the FCC approves the device for release. However, when we bought an iPhone ‘off-the-shelf’ and tested it the same way, RF Exposure Lab found it fails the FCC’s safety limit.”

    edited February 2020 jony0
  • Reply 8 of 28
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,897administrator
    gatorguy said:
    For whatever it's worth and according to RF Exposure Lab....


    Cell Phones

    All cell phone models must be tested to meet the SAR requirements for  most all countries around the world. All bands and technologies are  tested or evaluated against the requirements. The phone is tested using a  phantom head on both the right and left side of the head in a touch  configuration. The phone is also tested with the phone touching the ear  and tilted away from the cheek 15º. The phone is then moved to a flat  phantom to simulate the phone next to the body. It is tested with a  specified separation distance, which is included in the user’s guide.  The US requirements are listed in OET bulletin 65 Supplement C, KDB  447498, KDB 648474 and KDB 941225. The testing procedure for a handset  is described in IEEE1528-2005. The EU requirements are listed in IEC  62209 Parts 1 and 2.


    It appears the tests were done for Penumbra Brands who just happen to sell radiation-blocking cell phone cases. :/

    So with that in mind another quote FWIW:

    "Cellphone testing is self-regulated—the manufacturer supplies a phone to an independent lab for testing, and if the phone passes, the FCC approves the device for release. However, when we bought an iPhone ‘off-the-shelf’ and tested it the same way, RF Exposure Lab found it fails the FCC’s safety limit.”

    Note the last line of the story.
  • Reply 9 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,387member
    gatorguy said:
    For whatever it's worth and according to RF Exposure Lab....


    Cell Phones

    All cell phone models must be tested to meet the SAR requirements for  most all countries around the world. All bands and technologies are  tested or evaluated against the requirements. The phone is tested using a  phantom head on both the right and left side of the head in a touch  configuration. The phone is also tested with the phone touching the ear  and tilted away from the cheek 15º. The phone is then moved to a flat  phantom to simulate the phone next to the body. It is tested with a  specified separation distance, which is included in the user’s guide.  The US requirements are listed in OET bulletin 65 Supplement C, KDB  447498, KDB 648474 and KDB 941225. The testing procedure for a handset  is described in IEEE1528-2005. The EU requirements are listed in IEC  62209 Parts 1 and 2.


    It appears the tests were done for Penumbra Brands who just happen to sell radiation-blocking cell phone cases. :/

    So with that in mind another quote FWIW:

    "Cellphone testing is self-regulated—the manufacturer supplies a phone to an independent lab for testing, and if the phone passes, the FCC approves the device for release. However, when we bought an iPhone ‘off-the-shelf’ and tested it the same way, RF Exposure Lab found it fails the FCC’s safety limit.”

    Note the last line of the story.
    Yeah saw that. We're kinda on the same page. 
  • Reply 10 of 28
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 937member
    The FCC repeated their testing after the last report and completely rejected it. The devices are compliant with the certified limits. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 28
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,897administrator
    JFC_PA said:
    The FCC repeated their testing after the last report and completely rejected it. The devices are compliant with the certified limits. 
    This is addressed in the article, yes.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 28
    JFC_PAJFC_PA Posts: 937member
    JFC_PA said:
    The FCC repeated their testing after the last report and completely rejected it. The devices are compliant with the certified limits. 
    This is addressed in the article, yes.
    While: ‘Respected Apple publication AppleInsider reports “ iPhone 11 Pro said to emit twice the FCC's legal limit for RF radiation”! !  !’ Is the proffered lede. Headlines matter. 
    edited February 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 28
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,897administrator
    JFC_PA said:
    JFC_PA said:
    The FCC repeated their testing after the last report and completely rejected it. The devices are compliant with the certified limits. 
    This is addressed in the article, yes.
    While: ‘Respected Apple publication AppleInsider reports “ iPhone 11 Pro said to emit twice the FCC's legal limit for RF radiation”! !  !’ Is the proffered lede. Headlines matter. 
    Headlines matter, but so do ledes.

    "An independent lab claims that the iPhone 11 Pro emits over twice the FCC's legal limit for radio frequency emissions -- but as before, there are more questions than answers surrounding the testing, and no demonstrable health danger to the public at all."

    The headline is accurate. There is somebody saying that the iPhone 11 Pro broadcasts at more than the FCC legal limit. You'd really have to squint hard to attribute that testing and statement to AI, given what the second sentence right below the headline says.
    edited February 2020
  • Reply 14 of 28
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 1,128member
    Several years ago CBC Marketplace did an interesting story on RF testing - it was fascinating when they explored how different manufacturers interpreted the tests.

    Apple tested at the minimum required distance (5mm?) while Samsung iirc tested at the maximum distance (15mm).

    Marketplace even ran their own tests using a gel head to make sure the proximity sensors worked and confirmed the manufacturers passed.
    cat52watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 28
    hentaiboyhentaiboy Posts: 1,252member
    I call bs and/or clickbait. Any serious manufacturer knows about how to design and produce a conform product.
    Just like VW and its emissions testing, right?

    /s
    wozwoz
  • Reply 16 of 28
    What I always find interesting is how quick people are to downplay / disregard reports of RF radiation excesses. Do any of you really (truly) believe that these RF devices we use so frequently are absolutely safe?
    cat52
  • Reply 17 of 28
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,897administrator
    What I always find interesting is how quick people are to downplay / disregard reports of RF radiation excesses. Do any of you really (truly) believe that these RF devices we use so frequently are absolutely safe?
    What do you consider "excess?" This level tested here is absolutely not that, and there are no measurable biological effects at 10x this level.

    I've said it before, I don't want a Navy search radar in my bedroom, but to call this level dangerous or injurious in any way is irresponsible and straight wrong.
    edited February 2020 thtwatto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 28
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,966member
    Lots of questions and parts to this story that are suspect. 

    My main question is why would the 11pro necessarily emit any different amount of radiation than the 11? I haven’t looked at the tear downs, but there are not that many differences between them, mainly the camera and screen. I would assume the logic board, antennae, etc would be largely unchanged between the two. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 28
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,411member
    a) Even if their testing could be reproduced as being correct -- and I'm willing to bet a pretty penny the FCC will be unable to -- this is of no relevant interest to literally anyone not working at the FCC. It poses (as the article says) absolutely no health or safety risk.

    b) In addition to checking their work, I'd be very interested to obtain a list of RF Exposure Lab and Penumbra Brands employees who are selling short on Apple stock. I smell straight-up stock manipulation here.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 28
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 24,387member
    chasm said:
    a) Even if their testing could be reproduced as being correct -- and I'm willing to bet a pretty penny the FCC will be unable to -- this is of no relevant interest to literally anyone not working at the FCC. It poses (as the article says) absolutely no health or safety risk.

    b) In addition to checking their work, I'd be very interested to obtain a list of RF Exposure Lab and Penumbra Brands employees who are selling short on Apple stock. I smell straight-up stock manipulation here.
    Stock manipulation?? LOL....

    A minor story like this wouldn't move AAPL more than a couple of pennies if even that. 
    cat52
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