French regulators have ordered Apple to yank the iPhone 12 off the market after the two-year-old phone suddenly started testing too high for radiation levels. Apple is disputing the order right now but can’t seem to explain why this particular iteration of the iPhone is suddenly failing to pass European Union regulations aimed at radiation emissions.
The iPhone 12 was first released in late 2020. This is the first time that the phone failed one of two tests to measure how much electromagnetic radiation from it is absorbed by the body.
France’s National Frequency Agency told Apple last week that to “implement all available means to rapidly fix this malfunction.” The agency warned that it would be monitoring the phones for updates to ensure that it happens quickly. If the updates don’t work and the phones are still emitting too much radiation, all of the sold models will have to be recalled and taken off the market under EU rules.
EU standards only allow cell phones to emit 4 watts of radiation per kilogram. The agency’s latest tests found that the iPhone 12 is emitting 5.74 watts of radiation per kilogram when carried in a person’s hand or pocket. This is still within the limits of what’s considered “safe” for human beings, but it is outside the limits set by the EU.
Testing was also done to see whether the phone was within the 4 watts per kilogram limit when carried in a bag or a jacket pocket. The iPhone 12 passed those tests. Regulators tested 141 phones and found that they were consistently emitting too much radiation when carried in the hand or a pants pocket.
While Apple is disputing the results found by French regulators, the country’s minister of digital issues, Jean-Noël Barrot, told the company, “The rule is the rule.”