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Apple Has Fix for iPhone 12 in France Over Radio Frequency Concerns

The tech giant denies that the iPhone 12 fails to meet regulations on electromagnetic wave exposure to humans, but says a software update will address concerns from French authorities.

Corinne Reichert Senior Editor
Corinne Reichert (she/her) grew up in Sydney, Australia and moved to California in 2019. She holds degrees in law and communications, and currently writes news, analysis and features for CNET across the topics of electric vehicles, broadband networks, mobile devices, big tech, artificial intelligence, home technology and entertainment. In her spare time, she watches soccer games and F1 races, and goes to Disneyland as often as possible.
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Corinne Reichert
2 min read
Apple iPhone 12 in blue

Apple's iPhone 12 was released in 2020.

Apple/CNET

Apple said Friday that it will issue a software update for the iPhone 12 in France to address regulators' concerns about radio frequency energy. 

On Tuesday, the National Frequency Agency in France (the Agence Nationale des Fréquences, or ANFR) said the iPhone 12 exceeds European specific absorption rate limits, and told Apple to temporarily stop selling the phone.

SAR limits are established for devices, like mobile phones, that emit radio frequency energy that could be absorbed by a person. Exposure to very high levels of RF energy can pose health risks, but multiple US health agencies say there's no scientific evidence of health problems related to RF energy emitted by phones.

Apple pushed back against the ANFR's announcement, saying the iPhone 12 meets or exceeds SAR regulations around the world. Apple said it's provided the ANFR with several internal and independent iPhone 12 lab test results that it says show compliance with SAR rules.

However, Apple said it will release a software update for iPhone 12 users in France to resolve the issue. The move was earlier reported by Reuters. 

"This is related to a specific testing protocol used by French regulators and not a safety concern," Apple said in an emailed statement Friday. "We will issue a software update for users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators. We look forward to iPhone 12 continuing to be available in France."

The ANFR manages France's radio frequencies. As part of its job to monitor radio equipment, the ANFR periodically tests phones to check human exposure to electromagnetic waves.

On Tuesday, the ANFR said the iPhone 12 doesn't currently comply with European regulations on SAR values while the phone is in contact with the body -- for example, being held in a hand or pants pocket. SAR values were found to be compliant for iPhone 12 devices being carried at more of a distance from the body, like in coat pockets or bags, however.

"Apple must immediately take all measures to prevent the affected phones present in the supply chain from being made available," the ANFR said Tuesday. "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 didn't immediately respond to a request for comment Friday about Apple's plan to release a software update to address concerns.