In a very weird turn of events France has gone ahead and banned the iPhone 12 from sale right after Apple has officially discontinued the phone. Why? Because it was discovered that the phone is emitting more radiation than is allowed under French law. Now Apple has commented on the situation, and is vowing to resolve it.
The main questions you might have in this situation are why it’s taken over three years to notice the iPhone 12’s emissions are breaking the law, and is the phone potentially a danger to anyone using it?
According to French regulators, a gradual increase in iPhone 12 radiation has been observed over time — caused by a succession of iPhone 12 software updates. That’s why this problem wasn’t spotted three years ago when the phone first launched. It straight-up wasn’t an issue back then.
Apple also claims that the increase in radiation isn’t a safety concern, instead claiming it’s all down to the “specific testing protocol used by French regulators." It’s also been reported that Apple told tech support staff not to speak about the issue to customers, issuing additional guidance to inform customers that Apple products go through rigorous safety testing before they go on sale.
French ministers later stated that while the radiation is above the legal limit, iPhone 12s are still safe to use. You just can’t buy one until Apple solves the alleged excessive emissions problem — which it says it will do with a software update. However, it sounds like the update will be exclusive to the French market, in order to get the phone back on sale.
France has long been very strict when it comes to electromagnetic radiation emissions from cell phones. Aside from imposing strict limits on the level of electromagnetic absorption from the body, another factor in these rules is that all phones previously had to be sold with some kind of hands-free kit in the box — primarily to help reduce radiation exposure to the developing brains of children.
So when Apple stopped including Earpods with the launch of the iPhone 12, that change didn’t affect the French market at the time. While that law has since been changed, clearly the radiation rules have not — hence the mandate to pull the iPhone 12 from sale.
French regulator ANFR said that if Apple’s software update can make a difference to the iPhone 12’s radiation emissions, the phone can go back on sale in the country.
When that will be isn’t clear, though. And I do have to wonder just how popular the iPhone 12 might be in France considering we’ve had three seen new flagship iPhones and the third generation iPhone SE launch in the years since the iPhone 12’s debut.