Belgium said on Thursday it would review potential health risks linked to Apple’s iPhone 12, raising the prospect that more European countries might ban the model after France ordered a halt to sales due to breaches of radiation exposure limits.
Apple contests the French findings, saying the iPhone 12 – now a relatively old model launched in 2020 – was certified by multiple international bodies as compliant with radiation standards.
Researchers have conducted a vast number of studies over the last two decades to assess the health risk of mobile phones. According to the World Health Organisation, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by their use.
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But Paris’ move to halt iPhone 12 sales until Apple fixes radiation issues detected in two tests has raised the prospect of further bans in Europe – though others, like Italy, said they would take no steps for now.
“It is my duty to make sure all citizens … are safe”, Mathieu Michel, Belgium’s state secretary for digitalisation, said in a statement emailed to Reuters.
“I have rapidly reached out to the IBPT-BIPT (regulator) to ask for an analysis about the potential danger of the product”, Michel said, adding he had also asked the regulator to review all Apple smartphones, as well as devices made by other producers, at a later stage.
Germany’s network regulator BNetzA reiterated that the work in France could act as a guide for Europe as a whole and that it would examine the issue for the German market if the process in France had progressed sufficiently.
The Dutch digital watchdog also said it was looking into the matter and would ask the U.S. firm for an explanation, while stressing there was “no acute safety risk”.
Italy’s industry ministry, meanwhile, said it was monitoring the situation but not taking any action for now.
Britain, where the iPhone 12 met radiation safety standards when it was released, has not announced any plans in the wake of France’s decision.
In Spain, consumers’ associations OCU urged authorities to follow France’s move and halt the sales of iPhone 12.
Industry experts said there were no safety risks as regulatory limits, based on the risk of burns or heatstroke from the phone’s radiation, were set well below levels where scientists have found evidence of harm.
Apple doesn’t break out its sales by country or model.
The company launched the iPhone 15 on Tuesday and the three-year old iPhone 12 is not available to buy from Apple online in France and other European countries. It can, however, be bought from third parties, including Amazon France.
“Limiting iPhone 12 sales, in and of itself, should not be that impactful for iPhone. We would be more concerned if newer models were involved,” DA Davidson analyst Tom Forte said, while pointing out that Apple could face bigger problems elsewhere, such as potential curbs on the use of iPhones in China and new data regulations in Europe.
Apple’s revenues totalled about $95 billion in Europe last year, making the region its second biggest behind the Americas. Some estimates say it sold over 50 million iPhones last year in Europe.