This week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to require cell phone stores in the city to post the specific absorption rate (SAR) of each handset sold. Though manufacturers and carriers typically list a phone's SAR in its user manual, San Francisco is one of the first places to require them to do so.
Though there's no scientific consensus that cell phone radiation is harmful--even from the long-awaited Interphone study--we encourage consumers to be informed about the issue and know the SAR for their handsets. That's why I've updated our gallery of the 20 phones sold in the United States with the lowest SAR. And just last month, CNET's David Carnoy updated his gallery of the 20 phones with the highest SAR.
Please note that on both lists some are sold by carriers, and others are unlocked, but all of the handsets are available in the U.S. market today. By publishing these lists we are in no way implying that cell phones are dangerous. Rather, we are giving you the tools to make a choice based on your your own concerns. We list the highest at-ear SAR measured for voice calls as tested by the FCC. It is possible for the SAR to vary between different transmission bands (the same phone can use multiple bands during a call), and that different testing bodies can obtain different results.
For more information, and for tips on how to limit cell phones' radiation, check out CNET's Quick guide to cell phone radiation. There you will find a full list of phones by manufacturer and our list of the 20 highest- and 20 lowest-radiation-emitting phones.