Is it safe to carry phones in your pocket? Apple and Samsung slapped with RF radiation lawsuit

Is it safe to carry phones in your pocket? Apple and Samsung slapped with RF radiation lawsuit
Dust up your hazmat suits, people, your iPhone and Galaxy emissions are just short of Chernobyl levels, way higher than the safe ones presented to the FCC, and there is even a lawsuit now filed against them for doing that! 

If you have been following the news in the past few days, you might be left with such an impression because of the infamous Chicago Tribune investigation that tested RF emissions on a number of few popular phones and found the FCC and phone makers' testing methods obsolete:

The tests were done on the band and frequency that showed the highest emission levels in the FCC table for that particular phone which is public information. Apple and Motorola returned comments that this is not how you test, as actually holding the phone or activating the proximity sensor when next to your ear, trigger automatic reduction in RF emissions.

Jeans, pockets and iPhone RF radiation levels

The thing is, however, that the FCC's own guidelines for these measurements are for keeping a phone away from your body, 5-15mm which is the equivalent of carrying it in a holster. A relic from past times, we know. Who carries their phone like that, though? Women have the dubious advantage of clothing companies creating pocketless or tight jeans for them, so they often carry the handset in their purse. 

Men, however, usually have the phones in their jeans or shirt pockets, while girls often carry them in their back pockets or even sports bras. That shortens the distance of the handset to body parts significantly, and the Tribune asked researchers to test from a 2mm distance, the typical thickness of a shirt or jeans pocket. Needless to say, since the absorption rate grows exponentially with shorting the distance, it far exceeded the FCC's 1.6 watts per kilogram specific absorption rate (SAR) safety level. 

This SAR threshold is set for larger distances that the phone-to-body situation we have with modern smartphones, so the FCC has started its own investigation into the matter. The litigious country that we are, there is already a class action lawsuit filed against Apple and Samsung for misleading radiofrequency radiation claims.

To be fair, their tests were done within the FCC guidelines so maybe an update to those for the modern era is warranted. There is one pressing question that keeps our mind occupied, though - since we are mostly carrying our phones in cases that add to the distance they are kept from our bodies, are we safer because of the wrappers? As scientists love to say: "more research is needed," so no need to get overly alarmed just yet. 

We'd definitely put a case on, though, as the test showed that the combined thickness of your pocket and underwear still keeps the phones dangerously close to your body, and when tested in the worst case scenarios - getting a call in an area with weak signal, for instance - RF radiation levels far exceeded the safe levels:



1. saif2711

Posts: 107; Member since: Feb 22, 2016

That's a serious issue..look how every mobile oem is taking us for granted even the likes of Samsung and Apple.

2. Whitedot

Posts: 866; Member since: Sep 26, 2017

Waiting for some serious 5g tests regarding potential health hazards so some people stop sleeping with they phones like there is no tomorrow.

13. oldskool50 unregistered

There have already been tests on 5G. I watched a video about it here:

3. Mike88

Posts: 438; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

This is a major concern, I hope someone takes very strict steps to make phones safe but the govts and testing agencies worship money and lick the feet of these companies while giving them clearance rating. It's about people's health and can't be ignored like this

4. Ankitm

Posts: 9; Member since: Mar 04, 2014

I just jumped the ship from iPhone 8 plus to S10+. Guess I should go back as Samsung published reading is lower than iPhones. I usually do look at the published SAR value before buying the phone. Wonder if there is a difference between phones with Glass, plastic or ceremic body

7. OneLove123

Posts: 1257; Member since: Aug 28, 2018

Why would you go back if Samsung is lower? Doesn’t make any

8. cmdacos

Posts: 4318; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Because lower is safer...

10. iushnt

Posts: 3151; Member since: Feb 06, 2013

That’s the exact question Onelove is asking.

17. OneLove123

Posts: 1257; Member since: Aug 28, 2018


19. Ankitm

Posts: 9; Member since: Mar 04, 2014

As artice called out that iPhone 8 plus is one of the phone that had correct SAR (and i was using that earlier). Also it doesn't say that s10 series is ok.

5. Plutonium239

Posts: 1243; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

This is rediculous. Phones emit non-ionizing radiation. This means that they cannot damage your DNA. This is the same baseless fear mongering as the anti vaccine campaign. Neither the fear of cellphone radiation or vaccinations is based on real scientific data. Should more research be done to make sure that cellphones are not impacting our health in a negative way? Absolutely, however todate there is no data to suggest it is harmful. Chernobyl was bad because fission reactions from a nuclear reactor emit ionizing radiation(and a lot of it in an uncontrolled reaction such as a melt down) which can and does damage your DNA, cause cancer and in high enough doses be leathal.

6. splus

Posts: 166; Member since: Nov 26, 2011

Unfortunately, that's just in theory... Practical tests have shown there are real and substantial effects of wireless radiation in both physical and psychological ways (more psychological - contributing to anxiety, depression and lack of concentration). It just shows that our theoretical knowledge about radiation is still incomplete.

9. cmdacos

Posts: 4318; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

The psychological concerns you mention are software concerns more than anything.

16. Plutonium239

Posts: 1243; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

It's not theory, it's established scientific fact from the last 100 years of using radio communications. Radio waves and other non-ionizing radiation cannot damage DNA, period. The last long term study done on extreme rf exposure in rats showed that male rats lived about 6% longer on average compared to the control group. No effect on female rats, and the amount of rf exposure was far greater than anything that most people ever encounter.

14. AbhiD

Posts: 856; Member since: Apr 06, 2012

Can't believe people like you. Go and sit under a mobile radiation tower if it's so much safe. Do that a for a few months and then tell us how you feel

15. Plutonium239

Posts: 1243; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

If you are directly in front of an active cellphone tower antenna(practically hugging the thing), you can be burned on your skin, yes, however, it does not damage your DNA nor does it penetrate further than your skin. One of my previous job was working on cellphone towers. I upgraded sites to 4g LTE. Sitting under the tower is perfectly safe. You don't get burns, nothing. People like you hear or read the word "radiation" and automatically assume all radiation is bad. It's not. You do realize that light is radiation, correct? What we can see is called the visible spectrum of radiation.

11. tokuzumi

Posts: 1961; Member since: Aug 27, 2009

Fortunately, size creep on phones has been a good thing for keeping your phones farther away. I can hardly sit down with my "small" phones in my pocket (S9, and a Pixel 3a). So I keep them on my desk at work, and on a side table in my house. Back when phones were smaller, I would leave them in my pocket all day. And those old phones could send some x-ray levels of radiation through you. But it is still concerning how much radiation we are subjecting ourselves to these days.

18. Plutonium239

Posts: 1243; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

No cellphone ever manufactured produced x-rays. Only radio waves.

12. oldskool50 unregistered

The suite is bogus, because the phones already pass FCC standards for RF emissions. It just sounds like someone is trying to get attention. What affect has it had on anyone? Nothing that we can tell. Has there been a sudden increase in skins cancers or cancers of any kinda since cellphones popularity? NO! The FCC testing is based on typical normal phone usage. You're not using the phone while its in your pocket. Who cares how close it is. It's never been a problem and it isn't one now.

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