In today’s fast-paced world of technology and innovation, the market is flooded with an ever-expanding array of radio frequency devices, from smartphones and wearables to IoT gadgets and wireless networking equipment. While these products have transformed our lives, they also bring with them the potential for unseen risks, particularly in the form of Radio Frequency (RF) emissions and Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) levels.
In our quest for connectivity and convenience, the importance of SAR and RF testing cannot be overstated. These vital assessments ensure that potentially hazardous products don’t enter the consumer market. In this article, we’ll explore how SAR and RF testing play a pivotal role in safeguarding consumers by preventing the release of products that could compromise their safety and well-being.
The iPhone 12 and France
In September of 2023, French regulators asked that sales of the iPhone be stopped, citing radiation levels that exceeded European regulations. Although this product had been certified by multiple international bodies and proved compliance with regulations for multiple countries, a test by the Agence Nationale des Fréquences (ANFR) found that the SAR was 5.74 w/kg, above the EU’s 4.0 w/kg.
However, this was found during tests that simulated the phone being held in a hand or pocket. Apple states that the iPhone 12 has on-body detection abilities so that it can lower its transmission power when closer to the body, but the ANFR does not conduct testing in this circumstance.
Fortunately, this situation didn’t end with a recall, because Apple created a software update allowing the iPhone 12 to pass ANFR regulations. It was approved by ANFR on September 29 and was part of the iOS 17.1 update.
Preventing Device Recalls with SAR & RF Testing
Although Apple’s situation had a positive ending, there are a few different lessons we can learn from it that help illustrate why compliance testing is so important for radio frequency devices.
SAR testing measures the amount of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the human body when a device is used, particularly when held close to the head or body, such as with mobile phones. Regulatory bodies, like the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States, establish SAR limits to protect users from excessive exposure to RF radiation. Devices that exceed these limits can pose health risks, including increased risk of thermal effects or other adverse health effects.
Many countries have strict regulations in place that mandate SAR and RF testing for wireless devices. To be legally sold in these markets, devices must pass these tests and adhere to the specified SAR limits. Failure to meet these requirements can lead to penalties, fines, or even bans on selling the device in that market, such as what happened to Apple in France.
SAR and RF testing are fundamental for ensuring that radio frequency devices do not expose users to harmful levels of radiation. Compliance with safety standards is a fundamental aspect of protecting consumer health and safety. Devices found to exceed SAR limits may be deemed unsafe for consumers, prompting recalls to avoid potential harm.
Avoiding Negative Publicity
Recalling products due to SAR or RF issues can lead to severe damage to a manufacturer’s reputation. In an age of rapid information sharing, negative news spreads quickly. Companies that prioritize rigorous testing and safety compliance can avoid the public relations nightmare associated with recalls.
Litigation and Liability
When wireless devices cause harm to users due to SAR or RF issues, manufacturers can face legal liability. Ensuring that devices pass SAR and RF tests minimizes the risk of lawsuits and legal consequences.
SAR and RF testing also impact international trade. Non-compliant devices may not be eligible for export or import in various countries. Compliance with global standards is essential for expanding a product’s reach in the international market.
Work with the testing experts at RF Exposure Lab
SAR and RF testing are essential for manufacturers to ensure that their wireless devices meet safety and regulatory requirements. By adhering to these standards, manufacturers can avoid costly recalls, maintain a positive brand image, protect consumers, and comply with international trade regulations, all of which are critical factors in the success and longevity of their products in the market.
When you need RF or SAR testing for a project, come to the experts here at RF Exposure Lab. The importance of working with an experienced, A2LA accredited testing lab that will guide you through the entire process is invaluable. Working with an experienced testing lab as early as possible in the manufacturing process will help you successfully get through the maze of regulations and ensure that your product is compliant. We offer compliance testing services for a variety of wireless devices, such as
- Millimeter wave devices
- Near field charging devices
- Cell phones, laptops, and tablets
- Medical devices
As well as many more!
If you’re looking for compliance testing help that is provided with expertise, speed, accuracy, and integrity, contact us to learn more about our services or to get a quote.