Apple has taken proactive measures to address concerns surrounding radiation levels in its iPhone 12 models in France. This development follows France's decision to suspend the sale of iPhone 12 handsets after tests revealed breaches of radiation exposure limits. Although Apple disputed these findings, the company pledged to release a software update tailored to align with the testing standards used in France.
The heart of the controversy lies in the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) measurement, which assesses the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body from a device.
France's Agence Nationale des Frequences (ANFR) conducted tests that indicated the iPhone 12's SAR exceeded legally allowed limits.
What makes this situation complex is the variation in testing methodologies between France and other countries. France introduced new regulations in 2020 that included SAR testing for limbs, such as holding the phone in hand, in addition to the traditional head and body SAR tests.
The ripple effect of these concerns has extended to other European nations, hinting at the possibility of similar actions being taken elsewhere. Belgium's state secretary for digitalization, for instance, has reached out to Apple to explore the possibility of upgrading iPhone 12 software across all EU countries. Preliminary reviews in Belgium suggested no immediate danger to users, but the state secretary emphasized the need for a consistent approach throughout Europe.
Germany has also engaged with French authorities to seek a European Union-wide solution, demonstrating the collective nature of the issue within the EU. Meanwhile, Italy is poised to request Apple to update iPhone 12 software within its borders, pending the conclusion of the French investigation.
Despite these concerns, industry experts emphasize that there are no immediate safety risks. Regulatory limits, which are based on the risk of burns or heatstroke from the phone's radiation, are set well below levels where scientists have found evidence of harm. Ultimately, experts believe that this incident will likely be resolved swiftly, particularly as the iPhone 12 is considered an older model.
Apple's recent launch of the iPhone 15 has further shifted attention away from the iPhone 12 including iPhone 12 Pro Max. While the iPhone 12 is no longer available for purchase directly from Apple, it can still be acquired from third-party sellers with inventory or through trade-in programs.
This situation poses a minimal risk to Apple's revenue, as the company generated approximately $95 billion in revenue in Europe last year, making it the region's second-largest market behind the Americas. While some estimates suggest Apple sold over 50 million iPhones in Europe in the past year, the company does not provide detailed sales breakdowns by country or model.
As such, Apple remains confident that addressing the concerns surrounding the iPhone 12 will not significantly impact its operations.