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Apple has had its software update for iPhone 12 devices in France approved by regulators, after the country threatened to suspend sales of the phones earlier this month due to radiation levels (via Reuters).

purple-iphone-12-and-12-mini.jpg

In early September, France ordered Apple to halt ‌iPhone‌ 12 sales and "fix" existing devices to bring them into electromagnetic radiation compliance with European standards. The increase in emitted electromagnetic radiation observed over time by regulators appears to have been the result of successive software updates issued by Apple, and was not present when the ‌iPhone‌ 12 was launched in 2020.

The ANFR ordered Apple to "remove the ‌‌iPhone‌ 12‌ from the French market from September 12 due to the model exceeding the limit" for electromagnetic absorption by the body. The agency also told Apple to recall every ‌‌iPhone‌ 12‌ it has ever sold in the country. Ministers later said that though the radiation level was above the accepted standard, it was not dangerous and people were safe to continue using the phones, local media reported.

Apple later said it would issue a software update for iPhone 12 users in France to address the radiation concerns. The French regulator ANFR responded by saying it would test the software update. If it made a difference to the electromagnetic waves the device emitted, ANFR said it would bring the model into compliance with European standards applied in France, and the marketing withdrawal order would be lifted.

Article Link: Apple iOS Update to Fix iPhone 12 Radiation Levels Approved by French Regulators
 
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Fuzzball84

macrumors 65816
Apr 19, 2015
1,398
2,863
How did this even get through? surely someone at Apple must have known this was coming and they could have pro-actively applied a software update and avoided all of this 'bad' publicity...

Despite the levels of radiation still being safe, there will be some people who will over react to this.
 

FastLaneJB

macrumors regular
Jun 3, 2008
188
243
How does a software update fix radiation? Bit silly really. we may end up seeing performance throttling.
They turn on the lower radiation feature flag ;)

Joking aside if this wasn't present at launch and was later found then at some point Apple's boosted the power of the radios probably to improve signal strength. That pushed them over the limit and now I guess they are going to dial it back down so French iPhone 12 users should expect worse signal.
 

jasonsmith_88

macrumors regular
Jul 27, 2016
155
321
How did this even get through? surely someone at Apple must have known this was coming and they could have pro-actively applied a software update and avoided all of this 'bad' publicity...

Despite the levels of radiation still being safe, there will be some people who will over react to this.

Apple probably didn’t believe that the French regulator would be so stupid as to measure the radiation from a closer distance (closer than the EU regulation specifies) while expecting the same amount of radiation. Of course, if you measure from a closer distance, you get a higher value. A child in kindergarten could predict the result of this basic science experiment. But the French doubled-down in their scaremongering campaign and I guess it would be worse for Apple if they don’t respond. But don’t be fooled. The iPhone is within spec according to all other EU nations, all other countries in the world, and independent testing. This is nothing more than the French government trying to drum up fear.
 

jdavid_rp

macrumors regular
Feb 25, 2020
224
682
They turn on the lower radiation feature flag ;)

Joking aside if this wasn't present at launch and was later found then at some point Apple's boosted the power of the radios probably to improve signal strength. That pushed them over the limit and now I guess they are going to dial it back down so French iPhone 12 users should expect worse signal.
In my iPhone 12 Mini on iOS 15 the signal is quite regular already, so I suppose I wouldn’t see any difference 😂
 

LV426

macrumors 68000
Jan 22, 2013
1,809
2,211
How does a software update fix radiation? Bit silly really. we may end up seeing performance throttling.

In this context, radiation means electromagnetic radiation (radio). The strength of the radio transmitter can be controlled by the operating system. If, over the years, the control mechanism has upped the strength of the radio output, I can't say I'm entirely surprised that it went unmissed.
 

Populus

macrumors 601
Aug 24, 2012
4,374
6,266
Spain, Europe
How does a software update fix radiation? Bit silly really. we may end up seeing performance throttling.
Yes, it can be done, same way you can regulate the power at which a router can broadcast, Apple can regulate it via firmware. Actually, the iPhone 12 had allegedly lower radiation levels on its launch, so this has to be tweaked afterwards on an iOS update to increase the power (maybe to improve coverage?) and, thus, the radiation.
 

FreakinEurekan

macrumors 603
Sep 8, 2011
5,254
2,367
Despite the levels of radiation still being safe, there will be some people who will over react to this.
That's a pessimistic viewpoint, people will understand!

Wait, wait… is this update is only available in France? So, people in other countries using their iPhone 12 will keep being exposed to higher levels?
Or not (-‸ლ)
 

michelb76

macrumors regular
Mar 8, 2016
217
203
How did this even get through? surely someone at Apple must have known this was coming and they could have pro-actively applied a software update and avoided all of this 'bad' publicity...

Despite the levels of radiation still being safe, there will be some people who will over react to this.
It's not that easy to measure apparently. Every other smartphone manufacturer in Europe has had to change this in the past months, not sure why Apple gets the focus here. Maybe because they ignored the request to change it.
 

michelb76

macrumors regular
Mar 8, 2016
217
203
Wait, wait… is this update is only available in France? So, people in other countries using their iPhone 12 will keep being exposed to higher levels? Unless the allowed radiation levels are abnormally low in France, I think this update should have been available to everyone else.
No, it's being fixed in The Netherlands as well, and probably also in other European countries, like most of the Android phone makers have done in the past year.
 

Reason077

macrumors 68040
Aug 14, 2007
3,556
3,463
How does a software update fix radiation? Bit silly really. we may end up seeing performance throttling.

Will presumably be an update to the baseband firmware which regulates power output levels on the various antennas, etc. RF stuff can be pretty complex and I'd imagine it's possible that some innocent/unrelated changes resulted in increased measured radiation.

Baseband firmware updates may also have come from Qualcomm, so Apple might not have been at fault.
 

neuropsychguy

macrumors 68020
Sep 29, 2008
2,290
5,336
Wait, wait… is this update is only available in France? So, people in other countries using their iPhone 12 will keep being exposed to higher levels? Unless the allowed radiation levels are abnormally low in France, I think this update should have been available to everyone else.
The issue was with specific tests done in France. The levels of radiation (which are non-ionizing in any case) are safe.

From one of the AP articles about it:
France’s digital minister said the iPhone 12’s radiation levels are still much lower than levels that scientific studies consider could harm users, and the agency itself acknowledges that its tests don’t reflect typical phone use.

Also,
The agency recently tested 141 cellphones and found that when the iPhone 12 is held in a hand or carried in a pocket, its level of electromagnetic energy absorption is 5.74 watts per kilogram, higher than the EU standard of 4 watts per kilogram.

The phone passed a separate test of radiation levels for devices kept in a jacket or in a bag, the agency said.

Not stated in there is that tests are also done holding the phone up to a "head" (the agency testing uses a "phantom"/dummy head and body for testing) and those passed. So the iPhone 12 "failed" when it was used when holding in the hand away from the head or if it was used while carrying in a pocket. When using it in a jacket pocket or a bag or held up to the head (like typical use), the radiation levels were below the limit.

More here. Apple is complying because that's what it needs to do but people need to realize that there is a lot of fearmongering going on over this issue and the word "radiation".

Edit: Not all radiation is created equal. There is ionizing radiation, which has clear negative effects on health, and non-ionizing radiation (cell phones are included in that), which does not. Brain cancers have gone down slightly since the early 1990s: https://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/brain.html but we've had a huge increase in use of cell phones over that period of time. Childhood cases are up ever so slightly but it's not a significant trend.

Research on the whole shows no clear health effects of cell phone use and exposure, especially at the "radiation" levels that cell phones produce.
 
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bLackjackj

macrumors 6502a
Nov 14, 2016
758
1,524
And the rest of the world? This is quite concerning. How many other iPhone models are boosted after release? Is France the only country that re-tests electromagnetic equipment after release?
 
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tcgjeukens

macrumors regular
May 16, 2007
196
345
Esbeek, the Netherlands
Wait, wait… is this update is only available in France? So, people in other countries using their iPhone 12 will keep being exposed to higher levels? Unless the allowed radiation levels are abnormally low in France, I think this update should have been available to everyone else.
The fix is a bit smarter than that. It's based on location info. Any iPhone 12 user being in a French location will have its emissions throttled. If not, foreigners having a non-throttled phone, could be sued when in France.
 

neuropsychguy

macrumors 68020
Sep 29, 2008
2,290
5,336
It's not that easy to measure apparently. Every other smartphone manufacturer in Europe has had to change this in the past months, not sure why Apple gets the focus here. Maybe because they ignored the request to change it.
Apple did not ignore the request to change it -- they were given a couple weeks to respond and responded quickly. Apple disputed the tests (which they should because France has a different way of testing than Apple and many other countries do -- that doesn't make how France does it incorrect, just different, but different methodologies can give different results). However, Apple said two weeks ago it would do a software update (Macrumors also reported it at the time).
 
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tcgjeukens

macrumors regular
May 16, 2007
196
345
Esbeek, the Netherlands
And the rest of the world? This is quite concerning. How many other iPhone models are boosted after release? Is France the only country that re-tests electromagnetic equipment after release?
It's basically the same technique as all those phoney bitcoin adds you see on FB. As advertiser you upload a legit linked jpg file. FB AI scans the content and approves. Once approved, you change the source of the linked jpg file. Voila, you now have an modified add, having FB think it is legit.
BTW: this is what many corporations do. You file for an approval based on documentation you submit. Once you have the approval, you change the specs.
 

Ralfi

macrumors 601
Dec 22, 2016
4,310
3,008
Australia
I see this as a great outcome, even if only to keep Apple (& others) on their toes.

EDIT...
Apple later said it would issue a software update for iPhone 12 users in France

Err what? This update should be world-wide, should it not???
 
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