0 Facebook Twitter Reddit
As promised, Apple has developed an update to reduce the power of the cellular radio modem on the iPhone 12 and now handed it over to the French government for analysis.
Just before a two-week deadline set by France's radiation watchdog, Agence nationale des Frequences (ANFR), Apple delivered a promised fix for the iPhone 12's alleged too-high radio frequency emissions. The phone was found to exceed acceptable limits. AFNR retest RF exposure limits for 141 mobile phone models.
France's action only affected the base model of the iPhone 12. It is not yet clear whether the new round of tests will affect any other manufacturers.
Apple said it provided France's radiation watchdog, Agence nationale des Frequences (ANFR), with documentation from several international regulators. All data provided shows that Apple is complying with restrictions worldwide.
Apple's initial testing and re-testing in France were supposed to simulate a worst-case scenario where the iPhone searches for an RF tower in an area with a poor signal. The update will almost certainly degrade cellular reception in areas with poor signal strength, but the extent of the impact is unclear.
Apple's iPhone 12 cannot be purchased directly from the company. It is still available from carriers and used, and until the French government confirms that the update will solve what they consider to be a problem, sales remain banned.
In addition, if the updated information is sufficient for the French government, it will also remove the possibility of a full recall in the country.
“Apple is expected to respond within two weeks,” Jean-Noël Barrault, France’s junior minister of the digital economy, said on September 12. “If they don't do this, I'm ready to order a recall of all iPhone 12s in circulation. The rule is the same for everyone, including the digital giants.”
It is unclear how long France will take to evaluate the submitted fix, and Reuters did not appear to be given any details about the timetable or evaluation process.
Radio frequency power depending on ionizing radiation
Radiofrequency radiation is not the same as ionizing radiation, which results from the decay of radioactive isotopes and the Sun itself—and the mechanism of damage is different. Ionizing radiation breaks bonds in cells, and high enough levels of radiofrequency radiation can heat tissue and theoretically cause tissue damage.
Although radiative forcing is measured in greys, sieverts or rem per hour, depending on the country, the specific absorption rate (SAR) is more universal. SAR is a measure of the rate at which a body absorbs radio frequency energy. An SAR of 1 watt per kilogram will increase the temperature of an insulated block of tissue by one degree Celsius per hour of exposure at that power and does not account for the loss of this temperature increase due to any other factor.
Unlike the three methods of measuring ionizing radiation, SAR is a measure of that heat, not an absolute measure of damage. The heat generated is what could theoretically cause damage from RF exposure, but measuring — and how it is measured and regulated — is controversial.
ANFR claims that contact testing found an absorption of 5.74 watts per kilogram. The EU legal limit for mobile phone contact exposure is 4 W per kilogram per gram of ersatz fabric without cooling.
However, ANFR noted that the test at a distance of 5 centimeters from the broadcast element to the ersatz fabric met the international norm of 2 watts per kilogram, which was confirmed by Apple's own tests.
Apple testing meets international industry standards. During testing, iPhone radios are manually tuned to the highest possible transmission, and SAR is assessed in real time during time intervals required by applicable regulations, Apple said.
Apple says its SAR testing evaluates in positions that simulate using the device on the head, without separation, and when worn or carried on the torso with a distance of 5 mm. Various reports have claimed that the French regulator's testing differs from that of the rest of the world, but it is unclear in what ways other than the manufacturer of the detection equipment.