Apple is moving to defuse the French iPhone 12 dispute as scrutiny intensifies in the European Union

  • Apple says it will release the software update for the iPhone12 in France
  • France says the update should allow iPhone 12 sales to resume
  • Apple says it still doubts the French radiation results
  • Belgium says it has asked Apple for an EU-wide software update
  • Belgium sees no risk to users, and Denmark says it is not concerned

PARIS, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Apple Inc (AAPL.O) pledged on Friday to update software for its iPhone 12s in France to settle a dispute over radiation levels, but concerns in other European countries suggested it may have to take similar action elsewhere.

This week, France suspended sales of iPhone 12 phones after tests it said found violations of radiation exposure limits.

Apple disputed the findings, saying the iPhone 12 had been certified by several international bodies as compatible with global standards, but said on Friday it would release a software update to accommodate the testing methods used in France.

Researchers have conducted a large number of studies over the past two decades to evaluate the health risks of cell phones. According to the World Health Organization, no harmful health effects have been proven.

But France’s radiation warning, based on test results different from those conducted in other countries, has raised concerns across Europe.

The Belgian Minister of State for Digitization said he had asked Apple to upgrade the iPhone 12 software across the European Union, although he said that based on an initial review by the Belgian regulator, the phone did not pose any risk to users.

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Germany said it was in contact with French authorities to find a solution at the EU level, while Italy is set to ask Apple to upgrade the software on the iPhone 12s there, according to a government source in Rome.

However, a second Italian government source said that any request to Apple or separate decisions by Italian authorities would not come until after the French investigation is over.

The Dutch Digital Infrastructure Authority said it is also conducting its own investigation, scheduled to take two weeks, and is in contact with Apple as well as German and French authorities. The agency said it received calls from concerned consumers.

The French government welcomed Apple’s software update, saying it would be tested quickly and should allow sales of the relatively old iPhone 12 model, which was launched in 2020, to resume.

“We will release a software update to users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators. We look forward to the continued availability of iPhone 12 in France,” Apple said in a statement.

“This is related to a specific testing protocol used by French regulators and is not a safety concern,” she added.

Apple routinely provides software updates for its phones and computers, often to fix a security issue. They can focus on a specific model or region, and Apple sometimes releases such updates several times a month.

Limb tests

France’s National Radiofrequency Agency (ANFR) said on Tuesday that the specific absorption rate (SAR) of the iPhone 12 — a measure of the rate of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body from a piece of equipment — was higher than legally allowed, leading to the sale being suspended. .

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A change in French regulations in 2020 allowed SAR testing for the extremities – such as holding a phone in the hand – as well as for the head and body, used elsewhere. In French party SAR tests, which the iPhone 12 failed, it measured at a distance of 0mm compared to 5mm for in-body tests.

Belgian Digitalization Minister Mathieu Michel said in a statement on Friday that although a review of the phone by the country’s IBPT regulator is still ongoing, the initial results were “reassuring” and there is no need to recall the phone in 2019. Belgium.

However, he said he contacted Apple and asked it to “review its software updates in a similar manner within the whole of Europe.”

Denmark also moved to reassure phone owners, saying its safety authority would not take action following France’s findings, and that it was not concerned about radiation levels resulting from use of the iPhone 12.

“Based on the available information, the Danish Health Authority’s assessment is that you can continue to use your iPhone 12 without worry,” she said in an emailed statement.

Industry experts said there were no safety risks because regulatory limits, based on the risk of burns or heatstroke from phone radiation, were set well below levels at which scientists found evidence of harm.

“Ultimately, I suspect the whole incident will be quickly forgotten,” said Ben Wood, senior analyst at CCS Insight, highlighting that the iPhone 12 is an older model.

Apple launched the iPhone 15 on Tuesday and the iPhone 12 is not available for purchase from Apple directly. However, they can be purchased from third parties who have stock or trade in old phones.

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The biggest problem could have been the potential recall, which France threatened if Apple refused to update the software.

Apple’s total revenues amounted to about $95 billion in Europe last year, making the region the second largest after the Americas. Some estimates suggest it sold more than 50 million iPhones last year in Europe.

The American company does not break down its sales by country or model.

(Reporting by Elisabeth Pineau and Tassilo Hummel in Paris, Elvira Pollina in Milan, Hakan Ersene in Berlin and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam – Preparing by Muhammad for the Arabic Bulletin – Preparing by Muhammad for the Arabic Bulletin – Preparing by Muhammad for the Arabic Bulletin) Additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Supantha Mukherjee. Writing by Ingrid Melander and Silvia Aloisi, Editing by Mark Potter and David Evans.

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Tassilo is a trained lawyer who first joined Reuters in Berlin, then returned to work in Paris. It covers French politics, business and the institutions of the European Union and NATO.

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