Apple has committed to updating the software on iPhone 12 devices in France to resolve the dispute regarding radiation levels. However, concerns in other European countries suggest that similar actions may be necessary elsewhere.
France suspended the sale of iPhone 12 devices this week after tests indicated that they exceeded radiation exposure limits. Apple contested these findings, asserting that the iPhone 12 had been certified compliant with global standards by multiple international bodies. Nevertheless, Apple announced on Friday that it would release a software update to align with the testing methods used in France.
While numerous studies have been conducted over the past two decades to assess the health risks of mobile phones, the World Health Organization has found no established adverse health effects related to their use. Nevertheless, the radiation warning in France, based on differing test results from other countries, has raised concerns across Europe.
Belgium’s state secretary for digitalization has requested that Apple upgrade the iPhone 12 software in all EU countries, even though Belgian regulators‘ preliminary review found no danger to users. Germany is working with French authorities to find a European Union-wide solution, and Italy plans to ask Apple to update the software on iPhone 12 devices in their country.
However, any requests to Apple or separate decisions by Italian authorities will only be made after the conclusion of the French investigation. The Dutch Authority for Digital Infrastructure is also conducting its own investigation and is in contact with Apple, as well as German and French authorities.
The French government has welcomed Apple’s software update, anticipating that it will allow the resumption of iPhone 12 sales in the country. Apple emphasized that this update is specific to the testing protocol used by French regulators and does not reflect a safety concern.
Apple regularly provides software updates for its devices, primarily to address security issues. These updates can be specific to a particular model or region, and multiple updates may be issued within a month.
The dispute in France stems from the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of the iPhone 12, which measures the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body from the device. France’s testing included SAR measurements for limbs (holding the phone in hand), unlike tests conducted elsewhere, which focused on the head and body. In the French limb SAR tests, the measurement was taken at a distance of 0 mm, compared to 5 mm for body tests.
Despite the concerns raised, industry experts have emphasized that there are no safety risks, as regulatory limits are well below levels where harm has been scientifically established. The recent incident primarily involves the older iPhone 12 model, with Apple having launched the iPhone 15.
Apple’s revenues in Europe totaled approximately $95 billion last year, making it the company’s second-largest market after the Americas. While it doesn’t provide sales breakdowns by country or model, estimates suggest that it sold over 50 million iPhones in Europe last year.