The SAR Rating Ã¯Â¿Â½ specific absorption rate --- itÃ¯Â¿Â½s the governmentÃ¯Â¿Â½s rating of how much a cell
phone is treating you like a bag of microwave popcorn.
A measure of watts absorbed per
kilogram of body mass.
NobodyÃ¯Â¿Â½s really sure what it tells us, but it remains the only yardstick
youÃ¯Â¿Â½ve got now in our third decade of the debate over whether cell phones cause cancer.
here are the Top 5 smartphones of 2010 that rate high by CNET and lowest on their SAR
#5 is the Samsung Vibrant with a CNET Rating of 8.3 and a SAR number of .89, just over half the
legal limit of 1.6.
This T-Mo Android phone is a looker with a 4Ã¯Â¿Â½ AMOLED screen
and, 16GB of memory and speedy performance.
But much of that helps make the battery life a
bit soft and the screen is way nicer than the plasticky case around it.
Oh, and no camera flash.
#4 is another Sammie, the Epic 4G on Sprint, CNET Rating 8.7 and SAR rating of .68, under half
This guy can utilize SprintÃ¯Â¿Â½s 4G network as the name implies and has everything else
including 5MP camera, big AMOLED display and 5 device hotspot ability.
Unfortunately, all that
stuff needs a place to live and the Epic is just plain huge.
Except on its SAR number.
#3 is the HTC Legend on, well, not really on any carrier in N.
America because it isnÃ¯Â¿Â½t compatible
with 3G networks there.
But if it works where you are yourÃ¯Â¿Â½ll enjoy a phone with a CNET rating
of 8.3 and a SAR number of .565.
Nice and low.
Another Android phone with an AMOLED
screen but mixed results from its built in camera.
The #2 smartphone in our list is the Samsung Fascinate on Verizon, CNET Rating of 8.3 and SAR
number of a mere .57.
Sister phone to the Vibrant, but on Verizon and with some service
tweaks Ã¯Â¿Â½ including the annoying lock-in of Search to Microsoft Bing.
Before we look at the #1 letÃ¯Â¿Â½s update the SAR story: The FCC recently announced that it no
longer is sure what the hell this number tells us and that any phone under the 1.6 SAR rating is
as safe as any other, which doesnÃ¯Â¿Â½t really make sense because the number represents radiation
absorbed by your body.
So while the mystery continues, the choice to play it safe remains
Which brings us to the #1 smartphone in our list: The Samsung Captivate.
CNET Rating 8.3 and
SAR number of just .42 -- A quarter of the limit.
This phone is the virtual twin of the Fascinate
and the Vibrant, but running on AT&T.
So notice how the phone you buy is not the only factor
in radiation Ã¯Â¿Â½ the network its on has a big impact.
Another reason to think about carrier and
For all out smartphone reviews, go to CNETÃ¯Â¿Â½s cell phone sections and to CNETÃ¯Â¿Â½s SAR ratings,
which sort them by maker, top cleanest and dirtiest.