iPhone 12 SAR-Lowering Update is Approved by French Authority

In a sudden twist of fates, the iPhone 12 was banned in France. The fact is that the country’s National Frequency Agency (ANFR) found the vanilla iPhone 12 was emitting higher than allowed electromagnetic waves. As a result, the authority opted for banning Apple from selling the device on the local market. It was a surprise for Apple, when most of the attention was being given to the iPhone 15 series. Although the iPhone 12 series is three-years old, the Cupertino-based firm didn’t give up. It issued a software update to reduce the SAR and get able to sell the smartphone regularly in France.

Apple’s software update brings the iPhone 12 to acceptable numbers

Apple rolled out the update and it seems to have fixed the problem. A new report from the ANFR states that Apple’s iPhone 12 software update does fix all the issues. It was tested by the French agency and was found to lower the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) levels to 3.94W/kg. The press release reads “Is is now up to Apple to distribute the new update to all iPhone 12 users in France”. With the update the iPhone 12’s history in the country will leave this “strange” event behind.

iPhone 12

Currently, the EU standard for a device’s SAR placed in a pocket is 4.0 watts per kilogram. The problem with the iPhone 12 is that it was above that mark with a SAR of 5.74 W/kg prior to the latest update. However, it is worth noting that the French test is different from other countries. For example, they include SAR tests for limbs (holding the phone in hand) which the iPhone 12 failed. Curiously, the iPhone 12 was not above the threshold when it launched in 2020. However, the French agency updated its tests on the same year.

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Interestingly, multiple EU members sent their officials to ask Apple to seed the same update at their countries. The EU members include Belgium, Germany, and Italy. Since the update seemingly reduces the SAR, it’s not a surprise to see these countries interested. For now, Apple is moving on to “resume” the iPhone 12 life in France. Time will tell if the company will bring the same update to other countries in Europe.

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Explaining More about Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values

There is considerable confusion and misunderstanding about the meaning of the maximum reported Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values for smartphones. The SAR is a measure of the rate of RF (radiofrequency) energy absorption by the body from the source being measured. In this case, a smartphone. SAR provides a straightforward means for measuring the RF exposure characteristics of smartphones. The goal is to ensure that they are within the safety guidelines set by the FCC.

Image Credit: Apple

ALL smartphones must meet the FCC’s RF exposure standard, which is set at a level well below that at which laboratory testing indicates. It’s a level that medical and biological experts generally agree. For users who are concerned with the adequacy of this standard or who otherwise wish to further reduce their exposure, the most effective means to reduce exposure are to hold the smartphone away from the head or body and to use a speakerphone or hands-free accessory.


Most of the regulators establish a safe number that companies need to meet. The iPhone 12 was above French’s threshold, and after a software update, it managed to meet the country’s guidelines. As we’ve told above, the device was launched under the country’s approval. However, due to a change in the testing parameters, which became tougher, it was found outside of ANFR’s guidelines. This makes us wonder whether tests become more rigorous how more smartphones will be found above the safe SAR values. For now, it’s good to see that a simple software update was enough to bring the numbers to a safe value.

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