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Apple Store / Apple news / Radiation in the iPhone - true or false?
19 January 2021

Radiation in the iPhone - true or false?

A string of accusations hit Apple in 2019.  Manufacturers were accused of exceeding the level of radiation emitted by their smartphones.  It turns out that the user has something to fear?

Eleonora Rusanovska

Apple iPhone models released in recent years have had to be retested in the US.  All of this comes after accusations were brought against the company, some of which claimed that iPhones had higher radiation levels than what the manufacturers officially claimed.  The incident came after the decision of the local Chicago Tribune newspaper to test several smartphones.  The study revealed extremely high SAR values, which provided sufficient grounds for filing a claim in court.  This state of affairs became interested in the FCC in the United States.  Moreover, it is this body that conducts testing before the release of the next gadget.

A bit of theory

The human brain is a very complex, sensitive, and, above all, very flexible organ.  It may turn out that throughout life, even small doses of radiation acting on it, in total, cause irreversible changes in our central nervous system. The SAR, which was mentioned in the charges, shows a certain rate of energy absorption.  Simply put, it is the rate at which the energy emitted by the smartphone is absorbed by the human body.  The lower the SAR, the better.

radiation in iPhone

SAR measurements are most often performed using special antennas embedded in materials with specific properties - such that they resemble the structure of the inner part of the human head.  The most commonly used fluid is the one that resembles the brain in its physical properties.  Additionally, it is poured into a head-shaped container so that the results reflect real conditions as closely as possible. Results are displayed in watts per kilogram of body weight.  The maximum allowable value in the consumer electronics market is 1.6 W / kg.  However, this does not negate the fact that despite the limitations, some smartphones have much lower SAR values, while others are dangerously close to the limit value.

It should be understood that SAR is measured for both the head and body.  Common problems that can result from too high a SAR value include headaches, fatigue, feeling over-arched in the place where the phone is held, and even irritation.


Similar tests to detect the level of SAR can be carried out at a distance of up to 25 mm between a smartphone and a person's head (or a liquid that mimics it).  The Chicago Tribune, in turn, used a distance that manufacturers themselves choose for their tests.  In the case of Apple, this is 5 mm.  The second test was carried out at a distance of 2 mm.  This was done in order to simulate a situation close to reality because most people use or carry their phones at exactly this distance.

However, it should be noted that the tests were conducted to simulate the worst possible exposure conditions.  In fact, the phones were operating at full power, which is essentially the worst-case scenario for RF exposure.  Typically, consumers experience this impact in limited situations.  For example, when someone is talking for a long time in an area with a weak connection.

The method of studying the harm of energy radiation to health also causes confusion.  Yes, everything is systematically checked in laboratories.  But we cannot be sure of the results, since the standards were invented long before the release of new smartphone models, and have not been updated since then. It is interesting that the first radio waves appeared only less than 30 years ago.  This is definitely too short a period to test whether their radiation affects our brains.  In addition to everything, there are waves that are more dangerous to human health, called ionizing waves.  These include UV, gamma rays, and X-rays.

How did Apple respond?

Company representatives disputed the results.  They mentioned that all products are properly tested before they reach store shelves.  In their own country, they are carried out by the aforementioned Federal Communications Commission, and in other countries - by the relevant institutions.

So iPhone users should have no doubts about their gadgets.  The manufacturers themselves, in the operating instructions, warn that the phones must be kept at least 15 mm away.  So the choice of how to use your phone, with or without a loudspeaker, in your pocket or away, is yours.

Interesting? Then read even more news about Apple and iPhone on our website.

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