FCC Investigation Finds iPhones Do Not Exceed Federal Radiation Limits

Cell Phone Radiation Credit: Ivan Smuk / Shutterstock

That’s contrary to several reports and a class-action lawsuit that have surfaced over the past year. Here’s what you should know.

Past Reports

Back in August, The Chicago Tribune published the results of an independent test that found certain smartphone models allegedly exceeded the FCC’s legal limits.

That test, carried out by an accredited lab, didn’t just focus on iPhones. But its results suggested that Apple’s iPhone 7 was the worst emitter, with exposure levels beyond what the FCC allows.

In the wake of that report, Chicago-based law firm Fegan Scott apparently smelled blood in the water and announced that it would launch its own investigation into the matter.

Just a week or two, Fegan Scott released the results of that testing, claiming that some of Apple’s iPhones emitted five times the federal limits during “actual use conditions.” It also launched a class-action lawsuit against Apple and Samsung.

Apple, for its part, denies that its iPhones exceed federal limits. The company says that the Chicago Tribune’s testing was improperly conducted, and it likely has a similar conclusion for Fegan Scott’s results.

What the FCC Found

Of course, there was another thread to this story. Back when the Chicago Tribune’s report first broke, the FCC said that it would launch its own federal investigation into smartphone radiation levels.

This week, the FCC released the results of that investigation.

In short, the FCC found that none of Apple’s or Samsung’s devices actually exceeded its federal limits. That directly conflicts with both the Chicago Tribune’s and Fegan Scott’s conclusion.

The Commission used iPhone X, iPhone 7 and iPhone XS models purchased on the open market, as well as devices provided by Apple itself. And none of the FCC’s tests found results that looked like the Chicago Tribune’s.

“All sample cell phones tested by the FCC laboratory … produced maximum 1-g average SAR values less than the 1.6 W/kg limit specified in the FCC rules,” the report indicates.

As a result, the FCC says that “all tested sample devices comply with the FCC RF radiation exposure general population/uncontrolled limits.”

Why This Matters

Consumers are understandably concerned about the various health effects of smartphones and its devices. But getting worked up over something that isn’t actually a problem doesn’t help anyone.

It isn’t clear what went wrong with the Tribune’s testing, but it’s obvious that plenty of hyperbolic and overblown conclusions have been made as a result of it.

Even though the FCC’s test reveal that iPhones don’t surpass its limits, there’s also little evidence to suggest that these levels of smartphone radiation are dangerous in the first place.

Whether the FCC’s investigation helps Apple in fighting Fegan Scott’s court case remains to be seen. But the test should hopefully relieve worried smartphone users.

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