Apple moves to shut down French iPhone 12 lineup as EU probe accelerates

  • Apple says it’s rolling out a software update for the iPhone12 in France
  • France says the update should allow iPhone 12 sales to resume
  • Apple says it still denies the French radiation findings
  • Germany says it is in touch with France on EU settlement
  • Italy plans to ask Apple for software update – source

PARIS, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Apple ( AAPL.O ) promised on Friday to update software on iPhone 12s in France to resolve a row over radiation levels, but concerns in other European countries signaled similar action elsewhere.

France halted sales of iPhone 12 handsets this week after tests it said exceeded radiation exposure limits.

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

Over the past two decades researchers have conducted numerous studies to assess the health risks of mobile phones. According to the World Health Organization, no adverse health effects from them have been established.

But the radiation warning in France, based on the results of tests carried out in other countries, has sparked concerns across Europe.

Belgium said it would conduct its own review, while Germany said it was in touch with French authorities to find an EU-wide solution. It’s not immediately clear if there’s a software update for the entire block.

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Meanwhile, Italy is set to ask Apple to upgrade the software on the iPhone 12s, a government source said.

The Dutch Authority for Digital Infrastructure said it would conduct its own investigation in two weeks and was in contact with Apple and German and French authorities. The company 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 introduced in 2020 to resume.

“We will issue a software update to users in France to accommodate the protocol used by French regulators. We expect iPhone 12 to continue to be available 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,” it said.

Apple regularly issues software updates for its phones and computers, often to fix security issues. They may focus on a specific model or a region, and sometimes Apple releases updates multiple times in a month.

Joint tests

France’s Agence Nationale des Frequencies (ANFR) said on Tuesday that the iPhone 12’s specific absorption rate (SAR) — a measure of the proportion of radio frequency energy from a device that is absorbed by the body — was higher than legally allowed, prompting a sales suspension. .

A change in French regulations in 2020 allowed SAR to be tested on the limbs – holding a phone in the hands – as well as the head and body, as used elsewhere. In French limb SAR tests, the iPhone 12 failed, measuring at 0 mm distance compared to 5 mm distance for physical tests.

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Industry experts said there were no safety risks because regulatory limits based on the risk of burns or heating from the phone’s radiation were set far below where scientists found evidence of harm.

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

Apple launched the iPhone 15 on Tuesday and the iPhone 12 cannot be purchased directly from Apple. However, it can be purchased from third parties who trade consignment or old phones.

A bigger problem would have been a potential recall, which France threatened if Apple refused to issue a software update.

Apple’s revenue in Europe was about $95 billion last year, making it its second-largest region behind the United States. Some estimates suggest that more than 50 million iPhones were sold in Europe last year.

The American company doesn’t break out its sales by country or model.

Reporting by Elisabeth Bino, and Tassilo Hummel in Paris, Elvira Pollina in Milan, Hakan Ersen in Berlin, and Toby Sterling in Amsterdam; Additional reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Subanta Mukherjee Editing by Ingrid Melander and Silvia Alosi Editing by Mark Potter

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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