December-19: Public Interest

Suit against Apple, Samsung for smartphone radio frequency emissions


 A class action suit has been filed against tech giants Apple and Samsung in California because of a report published by The Chicago Tribune. A team of researchers found that the radio-frequency (RF) emissions from their smartphones was over the legal safety limits set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). The devices mentioned are Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and iPhone X, and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note8.


  • Suit claims RF radiation emitted from Apple and Samsung smartphones exceed legal limits set by the FCC
  • Smartphones mentioned are Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus, iPhone 8 and iPhone X, and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8

The investigation found that RF radiation exposure from the iPhone 7 exceeded the legal safety limit and is more than double of what Apple had reported. However, Apple responded saying that Tribune test results were inaccurate due to improper test setup.

Samsung’s Galaxy S8, Galaxy S9, and Galaxy J3 were also tested by Tribune. When kept 10 mm-15 mm (the distance set by FCC) from the body, they measured under the safety limit. But when kept 2mm from the body, the RF exposure was above the set limit. Samsung reacted that its devices sold in the USA comply with FCC regulations.

How does it affect us

According to recent scientific publications, RF radiation exposure at levels well below most international and national guidelines affects living organisms. Its effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders and negative impacts on general well-being in humans.

Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values for cell phones is the rate of RF energy absorption by the body from the source such as a cell phone. The FCC safety limit is 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6W/kg), averaged over 1 gram of tissue. Many people mistakenly assume that using a cell phone with a lower SAR value decreases a user’s exposure to RF emissions, or is somehow ‘safer’ than using a cell phone with a high SAR value.

As per the suit, the company misled customers by not telling them about the potential ill effects from iPhone’s harmful RF exposure. Apple used to declare RF exposure information including SAR but it stopped giving such information with iPhone 7.


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