Phone

So you’d like to know which smartphones emit the most radiation? Today we’ve got a chart for that – and a little explanation for what it all means. I’ve been writing a bit on SAR, in my article Temperature. There are definitely issues related to specific SAR and phone safety. Today we would like to take an insight, on how does it look like.

The list we’re looking at today comes from tests run by Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz (BFS). That’s the Federal Office for Radiation Protection in Germany. They’ve got a big fat list of smartphones and registered SAR ratings therein.

SAR stands for Specific Absorption Rate. That’s a measurement of energy intake – measured in watts per kilogram (W/kg) from high-frequency electromagnetic fields – from devices like smartphones. In Germany, the SAR upper limit is 1.6 W/kg, per the BFS. We will be doing a deep dive into these limits in our article. For now it would be worth to understand, this is still high for biological norms.

The German crew in charge of this recording and checking of devices (BFS) has been doing testing since 2002. As such, they’ve got one massively comprehensive list going on right now. They continuously update this list, and as such, they’ve got basically every phone we could ever want to see, tested.

Statista released a list of top-10 offenders with this same source, earlier this month. Their number one offender is the Xiaomi Mi A1 with 1.75 SAR. Our list puts that same phone all the way down at number 7. It COULD be – and probably is – that their list is only considering smartphones, and only smartphones that are currently out for sale. Many of the top 15 on the list are not currently being sold by their makers – not firsthand, anyway.

Top 10 Radiation Emitting Phones:

  1. LG 510W : 1.94 SAR (year 2002)
  2. LG G512 : 1.94 SAR (year N/A, it’s also significantly old)
  3. BlackBerry Bold 9790 : 1.86 SAR (year 2011)
  4. Allview P7 Pro : 1.82 SAR (year 2016)
  5. Doro HandlePlus 3240 : 1.8 SAR (year 2009)
  6. Sony Mobile T 650i : 1.8 SAR (year 2007)
  7. Xiaomi M1 A1 : 1.75 SAR (year 2017)
  8. BlackBerry 9105 Pearl: 1.74 SAR (year 2010)
  9. O2 XDA Orbit 2 : 1.72 SAR (year 2007)
  10. Huawei P8 : 1.72 SAR (year 2015)
  11. Toshiba G450 : 1.71 SAR (year 2008)
  12. Sony Mobile K770i : 1.69 SAR (year 2009)
  13. BlackBerry Z10 : 1.69 SAR (year 2013)
  14. OnePlus 5T : 1.68 SAR (year 2017)
  15. Huawei Mate 9 : 1.64 SAR (year 2016) +

NOTE: Doro HandlePlus 3240 was designed for older users who weren’t comfortable with small cell phones with little buttons. It was a bit of a mess in basically every respect.

NOTE: The O2 XDA Orbit 2 ran Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0 Professional. So it was sort of a smartphone, but not really. It had a stylus and SAT-NAV, so that was kinda cool.

What’s interesting here is the fact that most non-smart-phones on the list (this top 15) seem to have been from around the decade mark. Back in 2007 the smartphone world changed as Android got underway and Apple revealed the first iPhone. The biggest names don’t seem to be the biggest offenders here in 2019.

Also of note – the SAR levels here are referencing tests “Telefonieren mit dem Handy am Ohr” – aka the telephone is held up to the user’s head. The big list from BFS also tests SAR levels as devices are worn on the body (in one’s pocket, for example).

Where are Apple and Samsung?

Some other notable entries on the list are:

  • iPhone 8, Model A1905, the highest radiation iPhone on the list at 1.32 SAR. This iPhone is number #131 on the list of all devices tested thus far.
  • The highest Galaxy S smartphone on this list is the Samsung Galaxy S5 mini (SM-G800F) with 0.97 SAR, which puts the device at #562 on the list.
  • The Samsung Galaxy S9 (both models tested) had 0.37 SAR, putting them in the 2K+ range.
  • Apple’s iPhone XR, XS, and XS Max all had 0.99 SAR, putting them up at around #500.

Are we at risk for radiation-based health issues? Yes we are.

First problem with SAR is that it must be measured with a use of heterogeneous material. It works for a human phantom build out of gelatin, water and salt. It hardly works for human body. Separately, SAR assumes changes in temperature of up to 1C are OK. Study, I have dramatically criticised, found some biological effects at 0.2C.

SAR also does not look at the deregulating effects of the EMF. For example – clock signal for WiFi is at 10Hz, known to disrupt alpha brain waves. Cell phone radiation is now not a ‘potential carcinogen’, but is confirmed beyond any doubt as causing cancer.

Scientists call on the World Health Organization International Agency for Research on Cancer to re-evaluate the carcinogenicity of cell phone radiation after the Ramazzini Institute and US government studies report finding the same unusual cancers.

The cancer effect is linked to long-term exposure (as we all are now) and gradual, not acute deregulation of the human body. This can take multiple years to take effect.

Lastly SAR at a range of 0.3 – 1.6W/kg is still a lot! Biological effects are found at as low values as 0.000021W/kg. This is 100000 times less than advised as ‘safe’.

Examples:

SAR Reported Biological Effects References
0.000021- .0021 W/Kg Changes in cell cycle and cell proliferation (960 MHz GSM cell phone signal) Kwee, 1997 (Sage)
0.0004 W/Kg Cell phone RF caused changes in blood-brain barrier that protects brain from outside harmful chemicals and toxins ( 915 MHz GSM cell phone) Salford, 1997 (Sage)

Is this why for example Apple is advising all of their customers to keep their phone up to 15cm from the head?

When using iPhone near your body for voice calls or for wireless data transmission over a cellular network, keep iPhone at least 15 mm (5/8 inch) away from the body, and only use carrying cases.

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