Apple will issue iOS update to appease France over RF exposure row

Posted:
in iPhone

To avoid a recall of all the iPhone 12 units sold in France, Apple has announced that it will address concerns over radiation exposure limits with an update.

Assorted iPhone 12 models
Assorted iPhone 12 models



It's currently not possible to buy an iPhone 12 in France following the country's regulator imposing a temporary ban. The country's Agence nationale des frequences (ANFR) says that the iPhone 12 exceeds the allowed Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for RF exposure.

Apple denies the claim and has said that it will contest the results of this ANFR testing. Apple also said it has provided the agency with documentation from multiple international regulators, reports from all of which say Apple is in compliance with the limits.

Now, though, Reuters reports that Apple will release an update to iOS to address France's concerns.

"We will issue a software update for users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators," said Apple in a statement seen by Reuters. "We look forward to iPhone 12 continuing to be available in France."

"The ANFR is preparing to quickly test this update," said the agency in a statement. If the iPhone 12 passes the test, France will lift the ban.

While the ANFR did not provide details of its methodology for testing the phone, its concern has prompted Belgium to investigate it too. A spokesperson for the country said that the update was welcome, but that testing would continue.

Even if the French testing is accurate, there has never been any danger of injury to users. Legal limits are set far, far lower than any threshold for possible damage, and the 5.4 W/kg result that the new round of testing provided just slightly exceeds the 4 W/kg that is the legal standard for the on-contact test done here.

Earlier, the agency said that the test done from 5 centimeters was within legal limits. Regardless, the World Health Organization is clear that there isn't any indication that cellphones can damage tissue at any power.

"Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects," the WHO has said for years. The US Food and Drug Administration agrees.

Apple will have been more concerned about the possibility of having to recall all iPhone 12 models sold, than it would about continuing to sell the device. Following the launch of the iPhone 15 on September 12, 2023, Apple dropped the iPhone 12 from sale.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 10
    As always AI falls over itself to defend Apple, but a reading of 5.4w/kg does not just “slightly exceed” the legal limit, it’s 35% higher.  Regardless of what margin there may be between the legal limit and a harmful effect, ignoring it to the tune of 35% is unacceptable.

    If you go 35% faster than the speed limit, you’d best expect you’re going to be booked for it.

    Assuming it isn’t just a faulty test (and that seems pretty unlikely) Apple have some explaining to do.  An iOS update now is all well and good, but this is a three year old phone which may well have been breaking the law for three years.
    muthuk_vanalingamgrandact73appleinsideruser
  • Reply 2 of 10
    "You will comply with our nonsensical demands.  You will acknowledge that we hold the power."
    mike1danoxthtbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 10
    petri said:
    As always AI falls over itself to defend Apple, but a reading of 5.4w/kg does not just “slightly exceed” the legal limit, it’s 35% higher.  Regardless of what margin there may be between the legal limit and a harmful effect, ignoring it to the tune of 35% is unacceptable.

    If you go 35% faster than the speed limit, you’d best expect you’re going to be booked for it.

    Assuming it isn’t just a faulty test (and that seems pretty unlikely) Apple have some explaining to do.  An iOS update now is all well and good, but this is a three year old phone which may well have been breaking the law for three years.

    It sounds as if France has done the equivalent of measuring the speed of an approaching car while accelerating towards it. They have measured a completely implausible usage scenario of six minutes straight talking without drawing breath or the other person saying anything (the phone does not transmit when you're not taking) at full power. Not just that, they appear to be estimating the electromagnetic radiation from the heat generated, ignoring the fact that a phone used on full power for that time touching a dummy head will exhibit thermal radiation and conductivity as well.
    StrangeDaysthtchasmbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 10
    petri said:
    As always AI falls over itself to defend Apple, but a reading of 5.4w/kg does not just “slightly exceed” the legal limit, it’s 35% higher.  Regardless of what margin there may be between the legal limit and a harmful effect, ignoring it to the tune of 35% is unacceptable.

    They made up their own testing protocol. Apple used and passed the standard testing protocols. As usual, it's France that's being ridiculous.
    thtchasmbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 10
    dewmedewme Posts: 5,410member
    petri said:
    As always AI falls over itself to defend Apple, but a reading of 5.4w/kg does not just “slightly exceed” the legal limit, it’s 35% higher.  Regardless of what margin there may be between the legal limit and a harmful effect, ignoring it to the tune of 35% is unacceptable.

    If you go 35% faster than the speed limit, you’d best expect you’re going to be booked for it.

    Assuming it isn’t just a faulty test (and that seems pretty unlikely) Apple have some explaining to do.  An iOS update now is all well and good, but this is a three year old phone which may well have been breaking the law for three years.
    Definitely not the case on your last point. The iPhone 12 was previously tested and it passed. This is probably why French regulators stated from the beginning of this "controversy" that Apple would very likely be able to resolve this quickly with a software update. The media reports regarding this have been far more alarmist than the statements made by the regulators, which come across in a more pragmatic tone that nobody is really at risk here, but "the rules are the rules" and they're going to hold Apple to their requirements.

    It also sounds like the out-of-spec measurements are only seen during a very specific phase of the phone establishing a connection to a cell tower. This also sounds like the non-compliant measurements are specific to the French agency's unique test methodology since the iPhone 12 has passed standards for RF emissions requirements worldwide. So no, this is not something that's been going unnoticed for three years, not even in France. 

    In the meantime, if you are truly worried about your iPhone 12 leading to heatstroke or localized warming - don't duct tape your iPhone 12 directly to your face or your thigh, or any other heat-sensitive parts of your body until Apple issues an update. Heat is the only concern here since this is non-ionizing radiation we're talking about. 
    chasmbaconstangwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 10
    So if Apple turn down the maximum RF level, calls will be more likely to fail in weak signal areas. 

    📵  🤷🏻  🧅  🇫🇷

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 10
    chasmchasm Posts: 3,328member
    So if Apple turn down the maximum RF level, calls will be more likely to fail in weak signal areas.
    That’s 100 percent not what’s happening. Apple is simply updating the software to notice when French scientists are using their own unique method to measure RF and accommodate for that.

    Sort of like the way Intel rigged PCs to perform better when being benchmarked …

    As noted in the article, smartphones could be putting out 10 times (heck, 50 times) the amount of RF energy they currently do, and it would make no difference. There’s simply not enough energy in cell phones to cause human cell damage at any practical power level, according to the WHO and US FDA.

    Tinfoil hats off, folks, it’s all clear.
    edited September 2023 watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 10
    Reminds me of a more serious recall years ago of some Sony TVs that exceeded 2nd anode voltage limits and x-ray radiation.  Potentially MUCH more dangerous than this cell phone exposure.  As I recall, 2nd anode voltage was around 30kVA, which exceeded US government standards for picture tubes.  Probably not a real issue unless you sat close to the TV.  

    There have been past episodes in Alaska where folks have been burned by standing in front of microwave communications devices in an attempt to stay warm.  I'd also not want to stand close to industrial microwave equipment of the type once used to dry airplane propellers or paint.  Would not recommend defeating the interlock on your home microwave oven.  

    Just in case, have repeatedly heard it is safer to place ANY cell phone on a table top while talking (and keep a basketball sized distance between your head and the phone).  I tried to keep a two foot distance between phone and head with work phones (before retiring).  At home, which is now for most calls, I use a safer voice over internet protocol desk phone with hands free speaker and microphone.  (Has the added advantage of being MUCH cheaper than paying for constant upgrades to cell phones.  My SE 2nd generation stays powered off most of the time, except for two factor pass-code reception from companies that do not send by more secure email and non-cell means).  

    I tend to be a bit careful about both ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation.  Spent several years in medical x-ray departments, then spent time around radioactive tracers used in medical research, then 30+ years around a LOT of computer equipment and telecommunications equipment.  Also had a hobby of working on TVs back in the old picture tube days.  Back in the day, was within a few feet of Cobalt 60, Radium, ortho-voltage x-ray tubes.  Then spent time near a whole floor of a research facility that was off limits for 20+ years due to a radiation accident.  Then in rooms with many rows of SAN and NAS disk (and SSD) arrays, tons of WinTel and Unix servers, minicomputers.  Probably should have worn hearing protectors.  Still have mild ringing in quiet settings, but otherwise no hearing problems.  
    edited September 2023
  • Reply 9 of 10
    chasm said:
    So if Apple turn down the maximum RF level, calls will be more likely to fail in weak signal areas.
    That’s 100 percent not what’s happening. Apple is simply updating the software to notice when French scientists are using their own unique method to measure RF and accommodate for that.

    Sort of like the way Intel rigged PCs to perform better when being benchmarked …

    As noted in the article, smartphones could be putting out 10 times (heck, 50 times) the amount of RF energy they currently do, and it would make no difference. There’s simply not enough energy in cell phones to cause human cell damage at any practical power level, according to the WHO and US FDA.

    Tinfoil hats off, folks, it’s all clear.
    I admire your 100% confidence, but imagine the fuss if Apple is found to be gaming the test! For example https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_emissions_scandal

    The RF limits are set by the approvals bodies (at a very safe level), products must meet them to be legally sold. Lower power means poorer call quality in weak signal areas. 
  • Reply 10 of 10
    Mike WuertheleMike Wuerthele Posts: 6,868administrator
    petri said:
    As always AI falls over itself to defend Apple, but a reading of 5.4w/kg does not just “slightly exceed” the legal limit, it’s 35% higher.  Regardless of what margin there may be between the legal limit and a harmful effect, ignoring it to the tune of 35% is unacceptable.

    If you go 35% faster than the speed limit, you’d best expect you’re going to be booked for it.

    Assuming it isn’t just a faulty test (and that seems pretty unlikely) Apple have some explaining to do.  An iOS update now is all well and good, but this is a three year old phone which may well have been breaking the law for three years.
    Do you have a background in exposure control to RF and ionizing radiation?

    I do. Over a decade's worth, with periodic work still.

    This is an inconsequential increase, and likely because the French use different equipment than, literally, the rest of the world does. The French use a home-grown company called Art-fi. The rest of the world uses Speag.

    You know why nobody outside France uses Art-fi gear? Because it's unreliable and inaccurate.

    And, it can"slightly exceed" -- which it does, since it's 1.4 Watts/KG on contact in a scenario where there's no chance for damage -- and be 35% over at the same time.

    Regardless, Apple is turning down the transmitter in software, and will deal with this separately anyway.
    edited September 2023 baconstangmuthuk_vanalingamwatto_cobra
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