an iPhone 11 Pro Exceeds the FCC's Limit
A test by Penumbra Brands to measure how much radiofrequency energy an iPhone 11 Pro gives off found that the phone emits more than twice the amount allowable by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission.
The FCC measures exposure to RF energy as the amount of wireless power a person absorbs for each kilogram of their body. The agency calls this the specific absorption rate, or SAR. For a cellphone, the FCC’s threshold of safe exposure is 1.6 watts per kilogram. Penumbra’s test found that an iPhone 11 Pro emitted 3.8 W/kg.
Ryan McCaughey, Penumbra’s chief technology officer, said the test was a follow up to an investigation conducted by the Chicago Tribune last year. The Tribune tested several generations of Apple, Samsung, and Motorola phones, and found that many exceeded the FCC’s limit.
Penumbra used RF Exposure Labs, an independent, accredited SAR testing lab for the tests (The Tribune also used the San Diego-based lab for its investigation). Penumbra was conducting the test, which also included testing an iPhone 7.
More fundamentally, the SAR test doesn’t accurately replicate how most people interact with their phones. Testing phones from 5 millimeters away from the body may seem close, but for anyone carrying their phone in a pocket, the distance is closer to 2 millimeters. Because wireless power falls off exponentially with distance, what might be a safe amount of RF exposure at 5 millimeters could be much higher at 2 millimeters.
Apple declined to comment on the record for this story.