A French government watchdog agency demanded that tech giant Apple withdraw the iPhone 12 from the French market this week after determining that it emits too much electromagnetic radiation.
The National Frequency Agency (ANFR) ordered Apple «to implement all available means to quickly remedy this malfunction» or the company will have to recall the phones already sold in France.
The agency is responsible for monitoring radio equipment and public exposure to electromagnetic waves.
It recently checked the specific absorption rates (SAR) of 141 phones sold in France, including Apple’s iPhone 12. The SAR measures the rate of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the human body.
Agents from the agency will verify that this version of the iPhone is no longer sold in France. Multiple French telecommunications stores had pulled the iPhone 12 from their online sales as of Wednesday.
«For phones already sold, Apple must take corrective action as soon as possible to bring the affected phones into compliance. Otherwise, it will be up to Apple to recall them,» the ANFR said in a statement.
‘Waves can vary during software update’
Jean-Noël Barrot, a French minister in charge of digital, wrote in a social media post that the waves can change after the phone is released depending on updates.
«The wave levels that smartphones emit can vary during a software update. It is undoubtedly because of an update after its release that the iPhone 12 exceeded the authorised threshold. And it is a simple update that will bring it back into compliance,» he wrote.
Apple responded that the iPhone 12 has complied with all SAR regulations and standards and contested the results of the ANFR review.
The French agency said the phones are analysed both when they are near the body — in your hand or pocket — and when they are at a distance of 5 millimetres — such as in a bag.
The limit when the phone is on your person is 4 watts per kilogramme (W/kg), but the iPhone 12 was at 5.74 W/kg, the watchdog said. The phone did not break the threshold, however, when it was at a distance.
The level is «more than ten times lower than the level at which there would be a health risk,» Barrot wrote on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter.
«But the rule is the rule: Apple must comply».
This article was updated with a response from Apple.