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Apple will update iPhone 12 in France after regulators said it emitted too much radiation

The company, which just unveiled its newest generation of iPhones, insists the 12 model is safe and the phones have been certified in countries around the world since its introduction in 2020

Customers exit the Apple Store on the Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, 14 September 2023.
Customers exit the Apple Store on the Champs Elysees Avenue in Paris, France, 14 September 2023.CHRISTOPHE PETIT TESSON (EFE)

Apple has agreed to install updates for the iPhone 12 in France after French regulators ordered the company to stop selling the model because it emits electromagnetic radiation levels that exceed European Union standards.

The company, which just unveiled its newest generation of iPhones, insists the 12 model is safe and the phones have been certified in countries around the world since its introduction in 2020. It says the problem raised by the French government agency that manages wireless communications frequencies is “related to a specific testing protocol.”

The French agency said the iPhone 12 recently failed one of two types of tests for electromagnetic waves capable of being absorbed by the body. On Tuesday, France’s government ordered a halt to sales of the iPhone 12 and told Apple to issue a software update to address the problem or face a recall.

Apple said in a statement Friday that it “will issue a software update for users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators.” It did not elaborate.

The French ban could have extended to all 27 EU countries after three months if Apple had refused to issue updates and if no other government objected, European Commission spokesperson Sonya Gospodinova said Thursday.

France’s digital affairs minister said the iPhone 12′s radiation levels are still much lower than what scientific studies consider potentially harmful to users, and the radiation agency acknowledged that its tests don’t reflect typical phone use.

Cellphones have been labeled as possible carcinogens by the World Health Organization’s cancer research arm, putting them in the same category as coffee, diesel fumes and the pesticide DDT. The radiation produced by cellphones cannot directly damage DNA and is different from stronger types of radiation like X-rays or ultraviolet light.

Experts have recommended that people concerned about their cellphone radiation exposure use earphones or switch to texting.

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