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The Cell Phones That Emit the Most and Least Radiation

Newsweek logo Newsweek 8/29/2018 Aristos Georgiou

Stock image of a man talking on his cell phone.: GettyImages-838209340 © iStock GettyImages-838209340 Smartphones have become ubiquitous in our everyday lives and we are rarely without them. But this constant physical contact with our devices has sparked concerns in some quarters that they may pose a health risk in the long run as a result of the radiation that they emit.

While the science on the risks of prolonged exposure to phone radiation remains inconclusive, two infographics produced by consumer data firm Statista could help you decide which handset to choose if you are concerned.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by IBT Media

The charts—based on data from the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection, which has compiled a comprehensive database of new and old smartphones—show the handsets which emit the most and least radiation.

The phones are ranked by the specific absorption rate (SAR)—when calling with the phone placed to the ear—which is expressed in watts per kilogram of body weight.

The human body absorbs energy from devices that emit radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation, like phones, and the dose of the absorbed energy is estimated using the SAR measure, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).

The smartphone that emits the highest level of radiation currently is the Mi A1 from Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, with an SAR rating of 1.75 watts per kilogram.

In fact, 12 of the 15 handsets that emit the most radiation are produced by Chinese companies such OnePlus, Huawei, and ZTE, alongside Xiaomi. Meanwhile, Apple’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 and the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact round out the rest of the top radiation list.

The smartphone with the lowest SAR rating is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, coming in at just 0.17 watts per kilogram. The South Korean manufacturer fares well in general with five of its phones in the top ten places on the list of phones that emit the least radiation. Meanwhile, the Google Pixel XL, LG G7 and ZTE Axon Elite all feature in the top five.

While there are no agreed universal guidelines for “safe” levels of phone radiation, the Federal Communications Commission,which along with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) shares responsibility for regulating cell technologies,have set a limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram which companies must comply with.

Most of the health concerns around smartphone radiation are linked to its supposed potential to cause certain types of cancer in the brain and head.

a screenshot of a cell phone © Provided by IBT Media

Electromagnetic radiation, like the radiofrequency energy emitted by phones, can be categorized into two types: ionizing radiation (e.g. x-rays and cosmic rays) and non-ionizing radiation (e.g. radiofrequency). Exposure to ionizing radiation is known to increase the risk of cancer.

“However, although many studies have examined the potential health effects of non-ionizing radiation from radar, microwave ovens, cell phones, and other sources, there is currently no consistent evidence that non-ionizing radiation increases cancer risk,” according to the NCI.

Researchers have carried out several types of studies to investigate the possibility of a relationship between cell phone use and the risk of developing certain types of cancer, with most finding no clear evidence that one exists.

However, some statistically significant associations have been found for certain subgroups of people, such as the heaviest users of smartphones, (although these inconsistencies may reflect drawbacks in the study methods).

In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer appointed a working group to review all available evidence on cell phones, eventually classifying their use as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.” They noted though that the findings could reflect chance, bias or other pitfalls in the research.

The American Cancer Society suggests that this classification means there may be some risk associated with radiofrequency energy but argue that the evidence is not strong enough to support a causal link and needs to be investigated further.

Meanwhile the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FCC all conclude that no scientific evidence has proven a causal link between phone use and cancer.

If you want to limit your exposure to radiation, the FDA recommends reserving the use of cell phones for shorter conversations or for times when a landline is not available. Alternatively, they suggest using a device with hands-free technology which places more distance between the phone and the head of the user.


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