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Why every iPhone 12 in France could be recalled

Apple may be facing a recall of all of its iPhone 12 devices in circulation in France if it fails to resolve a dispute with a regulator over how much radiation the handset emits.

The story emerged on Tuesday — the same day that the tech giant unveiled the latest iteration of its popular smartphone — when France’s National Frequency Agency (ANFR) claimed that recent testing showed that the iPhone 12 emits electromagnetic radiation beyond the regulated limit, Reuters reported.

The ANFR also ordered Apple to stop selling the device in the country until it fixes the issue, which it said can be done via a software update. According to Reuters, the ANFR has even threatened to send its agents to Apple stores and other distributors to make sure that the model is no longer being offered to customers.

Apple launched the iPhone 12 in 2020 and still sells it globally via its refurbished items store or through distributors.

Responding to the ANFR’s claims on Wednesday, Apple insisted that the iPhone 12 was certified by a number of international bodies as compliant with global radiation standards.

Upping the ante, Jean-Noel Barrot, France’s junior minister for the digital economy, said that if Apple failed to take action within two weeks, he was prepared to “order a recall of all iPhone 12s in circulation.”

The ANFR recently tested around 140 mobile phone models, including the iPhone 12, to check each device’s Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), which refers to the amount of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body from a piece of equipment. It found that the iPhone 12 was higher than the limit allowed by EU rules. It’s been suggested that the French findings may differ from those of other national regulators because ANFR assesses radiation with a method that includes direct skin contact, without layers such as clothing between the device and the user.

It seems that with some sensible cooperation between the French authorities and Apple, the matter can be resolved before the situation spirals out of control.

The issue of whether exposure to low-level electromagnetic fields causes harm to humans has been a controversial one for years, with a slew of scientific studies supporting various conclusions.

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Trevor Mogg
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