By Mauro Orru 

Apple is planning a software update for users of its iPhone 12 model in France, after the country's radiation watchdog said the handset emits electromagnetic waves above European limits and threatened a sales ban and a recall if the tech giant doesn't address its concerns.

France's National Frequencies Agency said earlier this week that an analysis found the specific absorption rate--a measure of the rate of radio frequency energy absorbed by the human body--stood at 5.74 watts a kilogram when the iPhone 12 is held by hand or kept in a pocket, above a regulatory limit of 4 watts a kilogram.

The agency said it had observed the higher emissions in the base model of the iPhone 12, meaning that the iPhone 12 mini or the Pro lineup isn't affected.

The watchdog said Apple should take steps to ensure that iPhones already in the supply chain don't make their way to customers, while handsets that were already sold should receive a software update if possible. "Otherwise, Apple will have to recall the equipment," it said.

"We will issue a software update for users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators. We look forward to iPhone 12 continuing to be available in France," an Apple spokesperson said Friday.

Apple released the iPhone 12 in 2020, meaning the device is already in the hands of millions of customers worldwide, including in France. However, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company unveiled its new iPhone 15 lineup on Tuesday and discontinued direct sales of some older models--including the iPhone 12--from its website as part of a strategy aimed at wringing more money out of its newer, premium models.

Still, some third-party resellers could have the iPhone 12 in stock and the agency said it had instructed officers to make sure that the model would no longer be offered for sale in France until Apple addressed its concerns.

"This is related to a specific testing protocol used by French regulators and not a safety concern. Since it was introduced in 2020, iPhone 12 has been certified and recognized as meeting or exceeding all applicable [specific absorption rate] regulations and standards around the world," the Apple spokesperson said.

France's scrutiny of the iPhone 12 prompted agencies and regulators in other European countries to keep an eye on the case.

The Belgian Institute for Postal Services and Telecommunications, the federal regulatory body responsible for regulating the electronic communications market in Belgium, said it is maintaining close contact with its French counterpart.

"For the time being, we await Apple's corrective measures, as demanded by the French authorities," a spokeswoman said.

In the U.K., the Office for Product Safety and Standards is monitoring the situation in France, but there are no plans to launch an investigation at this time.


Write to Mauro Orru at; @MauroOrru94


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 15, 2023 08:19 ET (12:19 GMT)

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