Canada will be taking “additional measures” to make sure the iPhone 12 complies with the limits of human exposure to radiofrequency after France found the phone exceeded limits.
In a statement Thursday, a spokesperson for Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) said it last carried out an “audit” of the iPhone 12 in February during a routine inspection.
“Results obtained through the course of this audit were found to comply with applicable radiofrequency limits,” the agency said.
“Following the position taken by France regarding the iPhone 12, ISED is taking additional measures to reaffirm the compliance of this product.”
On Tuesday, France’s National Frequency Agency (ANFR) ordered Apple to stop selling the iPhone model, which was first released in 2020, and to “implement all available means to quickly remedy this malfunction” or face a recall.
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The agency found that the iPhone 12 had a specific absorption rate (SAR) of 5.74 watts per kilogram when carried in a hand or pocket, above the EU’s limit of four watts per kilogram.
SAR is a measure of how much energy is absorbed by the human body when exposed to an electromagnetic field.
France tested 141 phone models recently, including the iPhone 12, and came to its conclusion after the phone model failed one of two key tests.
However, the amount found is still “significantly lower” than what is harmful to humans, said France’s minister for digital transition, Jean-Noël Barrot, and the EU’s thresholds for radiation are set about 10 times lower than what studies show may be harmful to users.
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Canada has set its limits “far below the threshold for all known established adverse health effects,” ISED said. It has a limit of four watts per kilogram for limbs, the same as the EU.
The agency did warn that some of France’s requirements may be different from Canada’s, so its non-compliance there does not automatically mean the same in Canada.
ISED said Canada has some of the toughest standards for cellphone safety in the world. Every device needs to pass rigorous testing and a certification process before being sold, and they are then regularly audited afterward, according to ISED.
“Should the government become aware of a device with exposure levels exceeding safety limits in Canada, the government will take immediate action to protect Canadians,” the agency said.
Apple may be able to avoid a recall in France if it can fix the issue with a software update, Barrot said.
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Belgium said on Thursday that it would be looking into any potential health risks of the iPhone 12, while the Netherlands said it is looking into the matter. Germany said France’s work could act as a guideline for Europe as a whole.
Apple has disputed France’s findings, saying it has sent its agency multiple lab results done in-house and by third parties that show the iPhone 12 is in compliance with EU regulations.
France came to its results by testing the iPhone 12 at maximum power for six minutes, a scenario the ANFR says doesn’t reflect common use as the phone only transmits about half the time during calls and 10 per cent of the time while using mobile internet or video.
The iPhone 12 was compliant with the EU’s limit of two watts per kilogram absorbed by the body when it was carried in a bag or jacket, France found.
Apple no longer sells the iPhone 12 but it can be bought secondhand or from third-party retailers such as Amazon. The company announced its newest model, the iPhone 15, on Wednesday.
— with files from Global News’ Kathryn Mannie.
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