Monday, October 24, 2016

Do iPhones emit more radiation than Samsung Galaxy phones?

Caveat Emptor:  In the following post, I re-iterate the concern of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) that it is deceptive for the FCC to apply the SAR test in a manner that does not reflect how consumers actually use cell phones. I am not endorsing use of the SAR test for cell phone safety certification because the test fails to address the risks from exposure to non-thermal levels of microwave radiation. We need to adopt biologically-based safety limits and an appropriate testing procedure. See my earlier post, "What's Wrong with Cellphone Radiation Safety Limits," for more information.

Several recent news stories reported that Apple iPhones emit twice as much radiation as Samsung Galaxy phones (Cho Mu-Hyun, “iPhones 'emit double the radiation' of Galaxy handsets: Korean agency,” ZDNet, September 27, 2016). This story has been reported in Australia, China, France, India, Japan, and South Korea.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Representative Choi Myung-gil who serves on the South Korean Assembly’s Telecommunications Committee stated that six Apple products received a Tier 2 rating from the country's National Radio Research Agency (NRRA). In contrast, all Samsung products received a Tier 1 rating. The Tier 1 rating is awarded to mobile devices with a Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) below 0.8 watts/kilogram (W/kg) whereas devices with a higher SAR are given a Tier 2 rating.

Representative Choi also expressed concern that the SAR has been increasing over time for all cell phones and tablets and asked his government to do more to protect the public from wireless radiation exposure.

In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers all cell phones with a SAR of 1.60 W/kg or less to be safe. Unlike Korea and Belgium (below), the FCC discourages consumers from comparing SARs when selecting a phone. According to the FCC:

“ALL cell phones must meet the FCC’s RF exposure standard, which is set at a level well below that at which laboratory testing indicates, and medical and biological experts generally agree, adverse health effects could occur. For users who are concerned with the adequacy of this standard or who otherwise wish to further reduce their exposure, the most effective means to reduce exposure are to hold the cell phone away from the head or body and to use a speakerphone or hands-free accessory. These measures will generally have much more impact on RF energy absorption than the small difference in SAR between individual cell phones, which, in any event, is an unreliable comparison of RF exposure to consumers, given the variables of individual use.”

What is the full story?

The SAR is a measure of the maximum amount of microwave radiation absorbed by a test dummy, not the amount of microwave radiation emitted by a wireless device. Moreover, according to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the SAR does not provide an accurate representation of the amount of radiation that the typical cell phone user’s head and body absorb over time. For more information about how to interpret the SAR see the links at the end of this article.

The tier rating classifications in Korea are misleading because they only account for the SAR tested at the head. Furthermore, they only address the situation when Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned off while testing cellular transmission.

When tested near the head with W-Fi and Bluetooth turned off, the iPhone 7 does indeed have higher SARs than Galaxy 7 smartphones. However, in simultaneous mode with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on along with the cellular transmitter(s), the iPhones and Galaxy phones have similar SARs near the head. According to test reports filed with the FCC, without Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, iPhone SARs ranged from 1.09 to 1.19 W/kg as compared to 0.62 to 0.64 W/kg for Galaxy phones (see results below). However in simultaneous mode with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned on, iPhone SARs ranged from 1.42 to 1.49 W/kg as compared to 1.40 to 1.56 W/kg for Galaxy phones.

Unlike the SAR head test which is conducted at a fixed distance from the test dummy (about 6 millimeters), the SAR body test can be conducted at different distances from the dummy (up to 25 millimeters). The distance is selected by the phone’s manufacturer. SAR values from phones tested at different distances from the dummy should not be directly compared because they are not comparable.

Although with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth turned off, the iPhone 7 and Galaxy 7 smartphones appear to have similar body SARs, these phones were tested at different distances from the body. The iPhones were tested at 5 millimeters, and the Galaxy phones were tested at 15 millimeters. If the Galaxy phones had been tested at 5 millimeters, the SAR values would likely have been between 1.73 and 2.78 W/kg. (These estimates are based on research by Om Gandhi which found that SAR increases 5% to 10% for each millimeter closer to the body.) Moreover, since the body SARs for the iPhone ranged from 1.09 to 1.14 W/kg, the body is exposed to less radiation from an iPhone than a Galaxy phone when Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned off.

Based upon SAR test results, when Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are turned on in addition to cellular, the body absorbs considerably less radiation from an iPhone, whereas the head absorbs similar amounts of radiation as compared to Galaxy phones. 

FCC needs to standardize the body SAR test

The FCC should standardize the distance from the test dummy for the SAR body test. Since hardly anyone uses a manufacturer-approved cell phone holder to keep the phone away from their body, there is no justification for allowing phones to be tested at different distances from the dummy. Also, consumers who wanted to compare the body SARs from different phones would then be able to do so.

All phones should be tested next to the body where people actually keep their cell phones. However, it is likely that no phone would pass the test and be certified for sale in the U.S. 

Some phones may even fail the SAR test with a 5 millimeter body separation distance. For example, the Samsung Galaxy 7 phones would not likely have been certified for sale because the maximum SAR allowed in the U.S. or Korea is 1.60 W/kg, and the body SARs would have exceeded this limit if the phones were tested at 5 millimeters.

Belgium’s 5-tier safety system for cell phones

Belgium has a 5-tier safety classification system. All cell phones in Belgium are labeled with the letter A, B, C, D, or E, corresponding to the phone's head SAR (averaged over 10 grams of simulated tissue):
  • "A" indicates a SAR less than 0.4 watts/kilogram (W/kg),
  • "B" from 0.4 to less than 0.8 W/kg, 
  • "C" from 0.8 to less than 1.2 W/kg, 
  • "D" from 1.2 to less than 1.6 W/kg, and 
  • "E" more than 1.6 W/kg.
In Belgium it is compulsory to display a poster at the point of sale that explains the SAR-value categories and advises the consumer to make phone calls wearing an earpiece and to choose a mobile phone with a lower radiation value.

“Think about your health – use your mobile phone moderately, make your calls wearing an earpiece and choose a set with a lower SAR value.”

SARs reported to the 
Federal Communications Commission

The maximum SAR allowed in the U.S. and Korea is 1.60 W/kg averaged over one gram of simulated tissue. The SARs reported below were averaged over one gram. 


iPhone 7 (Model A1660: GSM and CDMA)
Head = 1.10 watts per kilogram (W/kg) 
Body = 1.14 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.16 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.49 W/kg (head), 1.56 W/kg (body), 1.56 W/kg (hotspot)

iPhone 7 (Model A1778: GSM, no CDMA) 
Head = 1.19 W/kg 
Body = 1.09 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.14 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.56 W/kg (head), 1.51 W/kg (body), 1.58 W/kg (hotspot)

iPhone 7 Plus (Model A1661: GSM and CDMA)
Head = 1.09 W/kg 
Body = 1.10 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.13 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.45 W/kg (head), 1.51 W/kg (body), 1.58 W/kg (hotspot)

iPhone 7 Plus (Model A1784: GSM, no CDMA) 
Head = 1.09 W/kg 
Body = 1.14 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.14 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.42 W/kg (head), 1.54 W/kg (body), 1.54 W/kg (hotspot)


Galaxy S7
Head = 0.62 W/kg 
Body = 1.06 W/kg
Hotspot = 0.55 W/kg (head)
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.40 W/kg (head), 1.50 W/kg (body), 1.59 W/kg (hotspot)

Galaxy S7 Edge
Head = 0.64 W/kg 
Body = 1.07 W/kg
Hotspot = 1.10 W/kg
Simultaneous (cellular plus Wi-Fi) = 1.56 W/kg hotspot

Also see:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge Specific Absorption Rates (SAR)

What are the SAR values for Samsung’s new smart phones? 

What is the manufacturer's recommended minimum 
body separation distance?

How should consumers use this information?

Be sure to read the latest 
Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Recall

October 10, 2016 (updated Oct 11)

Today the New York Times reported that Samsung has decided to permanently stop producing the Note 7 smartphone due to problems with the replacement phones.

On October 10, the BBC reported that Samsung temporarily stopped production of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphone due to reports of replacement phones catching on fire. Several phone companies in the U.S. stopped selling this phone or replacing existing phones. 

CNN reported that Samsung issued an alert to all Galaxy Note 7 owners to turn off their phones immediately to prevent fires.

September 15, 2016

Today the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission issued a recall of all Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphones sold prior to September 15 because the lithium ion battery can overheat and catch fire. Canada and Mexico also issued recalls. Samsung has received 92 reports of batteries overheating in the U.S.

To find out more the recall and whether your cell phone battery is safe, see Samsung's recall notice.

September 2, 2016

Samsung has stopped sales on the Galaxy Note 7 and issued a voluntary recall due to potential battery problems. As of September 1, 35 devices have caught fire when charging. Contact your cell phone company for details about the recall.

SAR Values for Galaxy S7, S7 Edge, and Note 7

March 1, 2016 (Updated on August 4, 2016 with Galaxy Note 7 SARs)

According to test reports filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for the Galaxy S7 for cellular transmission is 0.62 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 1.06 w/kg when worn on the body. The wireless router SAR is 0.55 w/kg at the head. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.40 w/kg at the head, 1.50 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.59 w/kg when used as a hotspot. (1)

For the Galaxy S7 Edge, the SAR for cellular transmission is 0.64 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 1.07 w/kg when worn on the body. The wireless router SAR is 1.10 w/kg. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.56 w/kg when used as a hotspot. (2)

For the Galaxy Note 7, the SAR for cellular transmission is 0.39 watts per kilogram (w/kg) at the head, and 0.67 w/kg when worn on the body. The wireless router SAR is 0.85 w/kg at the head. The SAR for simultaneous transmission (cellular plus Wi-Fi) is 1.24 w/kg at the head, 1.41 w/kg when worn on the body, and 1.59 w/kg when used as a hotspot. (2A)

All SARs reported above are averaged over one gram of body tissue corresponding to the US standard. The SARs may vary depending upon your specific cell phone carrier (e.g., AT&T = A, Sprint = P, T-Mobile = T, Verizon = V). The SARs for the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge can be found at

The minimum separation distance for body-worn testing was 15 mm (about 0.6 of an inch). According to Samsung, "To meet RF exposure guidelines during body-worn operation, the device should be positioned at least this distance away from the body." 

The SARs for the Apple iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus were obtained at a separation distance of 5 mm (about 0.2 of an inch) from the body so the body-worn SAR values are not comparable to those reported for the Samsung phones. The iPhone SAR values can be found in my article on Apple smart phones.

The FCC ID number for the Galaxy S7 is A3LSMG930US; for the S7 Edge it is A3LSMG935US, and for the S7 Note it is A3LSMN930F. The SAR values for these smart phones can be found on the following FCC website:

What do SAR values mean to the consumer?

The legal limit for the SAR in the U.S. is 1.60 w/kg (averaged over one gram of tissue).

The FCC requires that all cell phone models be tested for their Specific Absorption Rate or SAR. The SAR is a measure of the maximum amount of microwave radiation absorbed by the head or the body. It is measured in a laboratory using an artificial model of a large adult male with different fluids to simulate human tissue. The SAR, which is measured in watts per kilogram, represents the maximum amount of energy absorbed in any one gram of tissue in the test model. Phones sold in the U.S. typically range in SAR values from about 0.20 w/kg up to the 1.60 legal limit. (3, 4)

The SAR test, adopted in 1996 by the FCC, was criticized by the U.S. Government Accountability Office in 2012. (5) The test does not reflect those who currently use cell phones, nor does it correspond to the way people use them. Today many children are cell phone users -- the child’s brain absorbs twice the radiation as the adult’s brain. Moreover, the artificial head does not contain any metal (e.g., dental fillings, earrings, or eyeglass frames) which could increase the radiation absorption beyond the measured SAR in the laboratory. (5)

The FCC assumes that consumers will carry their cell phones in a manufacturer-approved holder that keeps the phone a minimum distance away from the body. However, most people do not keep their phone in a cell phone holder. For the body-worn SAR test, the FCC allows the manufacturer to choose the separation distance between the cell phone and the test model as long as consumers are informed about the minimum distance tested. However, few consumers are aware of the manufacturer’s recommended minimum body separation distance from their cell phone because this information is often difficult to find. Thus, most consumers are in the dark about precautions they can take to keep their exposure to microwave radiation below the legal limit. This prompted the city of Berkeley, California to adopt landmark legislation that requires cellphone retailers to inform their customers about the manufacturer’s safety information.

To ensure that the cell phone does not exceed the legal limit, consumers should never keep their cell phone in their pockets or next to their skin. The cell phone is not tested directly against the body because almost all cell phones would fail the SAR test as the radiation absorption increases dramatically when the cell phone is close to the body.

Is the legal limit sufficient to protect the cell phone user’s health?

Federal policies in the U.S. could lead the public to believe that all legally-marketed cell phones are safe, and that a cell phone's SAR doesn't matter as long as it meets the legal limit: 1.6 watts per kilogram. (3, 4)

However, the Environmental Working Group and experts point out that the SAR only measures the maximum microwave absorption from cell phone use that perfectly matches laboratory conditions. The SAR is not a good indicator of one’s cumulative microwave exposure under naturalistic conditions.  The research evidence suggests that how one uses the phone (e.g., hands-free) and one’s cell phone carrier actually matters more than the phone’s SAR level.  (4, 6, 7)

The SAR standard was developed to protect users only from the acute effects of the heat generated by microwave radiation (i.e., the thermal effect). (5) The SAR limit does not protect users from the non-thermal effects caused by the cumulative exposure over time to cell phone radiation.

Yet, thousands of laboratory studies with animals and cell samples have found deleterious biologic effects from short-term exposure to low intensity cell phone radiation, including development of stress proteins, micronuclei, free radicals, DNA breakage, and sperm damage. (8) Human studies have also found that brief exposure to cell phone radiation alters brain activity and can open the blood-brain barrier which could enable chemical toxins in the circulatory system to penetrate the brain. (9)

Major studies with humans have found increased cancer risk, including a three-fold increase in brain cancer among those who used wireless phones (cell phones and cordless phones) for 25 or more years. (10)  Based upon this research, the World Health Organization in 2011 declared radiofrequency radiation "possibly carcinogenic" in humans (Group 2B). (11)

Other risks from cell phone use include reproductive health damage and male infertility, and neurological disorders (e.g., impaired cognitive functioning, headaches and migraines, and ADHD [attention deficit/ hyperactivity disorder]) in children. (12, 13)

Based upon the weight of the evidence from several decades of research including thousands of peer-reviewed published studies, many experts worldwide have signed declarations calling upon government to adopt stronger radiation standards to protect consumers from low intensity, non-thermal exposures from radiation associated with wireless communications, and to alert consumers about how to reduce their risk of harm. (14 -16) Recent evidence suggests that brain tumor incidence is increasing in the U.S. and other countries and exposure to cell phone radiation may be contributing to this increase. (17) In May, 2015, about 200 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on electromagnetic fields and biology or health signed a petition, the International EMFScientist Appeal, calling for stronger regulation of wireless radiation. 

For tips on how to reduce exposure to wireless radiation, see "Some Tips to ReduceYour Exposure to Wireless Radiation". (18) In short, limit your use of the phone, keep the phone away from your body whenever it is powered on, use the phone hands-free, and turn off transmitters not in use (e.g., shut off Wi-Fi or use airplane mode).


(1) PCTEST Engineering Laboratory, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. FCC ID: A3LSMG930US. Date of Testing: 12/04/2015 to 1/04/2016.

(2) PCTEST Engineering Laboratory, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. FCC ID: A3LSMG935US. Date of Testing: 12/02/2015 to 1/06/2015.

(2A) PCTEST Engineering Laboratory, Inc. SAR Evaluation Report. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. FCC ID: A3LSMN930F. Date of Testing: 5/28/2016 to 6/06/16.

(3) FCC. Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) for Cellular Telephones. Undated.

(4) FCC. “Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) For Cell Phones: What It Means For You.” Undated.

(5) Joel Moskowitz. “"Comments on the 2012 GAO Report: 'Exposure and Testing Requirements for Mobile Phones Should Be Reassessed'.:”

(6) Wolchover N. Radiation Risk: Are Some Cellphones More Dangerous Than Others? Life's Little Mysteries. June 23, 2011.

(7) Environmental Working Group. EWG’s Guide to Safer Cell Phone Use: Where is EWG's cell phone database? August 27 2013. 

(8) Giuliani L. Soffritti M. Non-thermal effects and mechanisms of interaction between electromagnetic fields and living matter. ICEMS Monograph. Bologna, Italy: National Institute for the Study and Control of Cancer. 2010.

(9) Joel Moskowitz. “LTE Cell Phone Radiation Affects Brain Activity in Cell Phone Users.” Sep 20, 2013.

(10) Joel Moskowitz. “Brain Cancer Risk Increases with the Amount of Wireless Phone Use: Study.

(11) Joel Moskowitz. “Most Significant Government Health Report on Mobile Phone Radiation Ever Published.”

(12) Joel Moskowitz. “Cell Phone Radiation, Pregnancy, and Sperm.” Nov 19, 2012.

(13) Joel Moskowitz. “Cell Phone Use and Prenatal Exposure to Cell Phone Radiation May Cause Headaches in Children.“

(14) Joel Moskowitz. “Part I: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--Key Testimony Submitted to the FCC.” Aug 4, 2014.

(15) Joel Moskowitz. “Part II: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--Key Research Papers Submitted to the FCC.” Aug 4, 2014.

(16) Joel Moskowitz. “Part III: Why We Need Stronger Cell Phone Radiation Regulations--98 Scientific Experts Who Signed Resolutions.” Aug 4, 2014.

(17) Joel Moskowitz. Brain Tumor Rates are Increasing in the U.S.: The Role of Cell Phone and Cordless Phone Use.

(18) Joel Moskowitz. Some Tips to Reduce Your Exposure to Wireless Radiation  (one page handout). Undated.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Does Wireless Radiation from Cell Phones and Wi-Fi Cause Alzheimer's Disease?

Microwaves and Alzheimer's disease

Oct 6, 2016

The following paper discusses the research which suggests that long-term exposure to cell phone & other wireless radiation (e.g., Wi-Fi) may cause Alzheimer's Disease. The paper was published in the peer-reviewed journal, Experimental and Therapeutic Medicine. 

The paper is open access and can be viewed or downloaded from the link below.

Zhang X, Huang WJ, Chen WW. Microwaves and Alzheimer's disease. Exp Ther Med. 2016 Oct;12(4):1969-1972. 
Alzheimer's diseases (AD) is the most common type of dementia and a neurodegenerative disease that occurs when the nerve cells in the brain die. The cause and treatment of AD remain unknown. However, AD is a disease that affects the brain, an organ that controls behavior. Accordingly, anything that can interact with the brain may affect this organ positively or negatively, thereby protecting or encouraging AD. In this regard, modern life encompasses microwaves for all issues including industrial, communications, medical and domestic tenders, and among all applications, the cell phone wave, which directly exposes the brain, continues to be the most used. Evidence suggests that microwaves may produce various biological effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and many arguments relay the possibility that microwaves may be involved in the pathophysiology of CNS disease, including AD. By contrast, previous studies have reported some beneficial cognitive effects and that microwaves may protect against cognitive impairment in AD. However, although many of the beneficial effects of microwaves are derived from animal models, but can easily be extrapolated to humans, whether microwaves cause AD is an important issue that is to be addressed in the current review.
The impact of wireless communication on human health is a matter of debate. Since there are widespread concerns regarding the deleterious effects of the exposure to microwaves on human tissues and the subsequent potential threat of carcinogenesis, we can conclude that the current exposure to microwaves during the use of cell phones is not safe for long-term exposure, despite the current scientific opinion. Absorption of the cell phone signal into the brain of children does not exclude serious neuronal damage, as evidenced in rat studies (). In addition, the increased risk of tumors of the head associated with long-term cell phone use is evident since radiofrequency may cause the blood-brain barrier to leak and to favor the damage of genetic material which consists of common precursors to cancer (). Accordingly, poor fertility and the increased chance of miscarriage and childhood cancer have been associated with cell phone storage in front pockets. Notably, the data suggested that the hippocampus can be injured by long-term microwave exposure (), which may result in the impairment of cognitive function due to neurotransmitter disruption. These results suggest that precautionary approach underlying the restrictive use of cell phones constitutes essential appropriate guidelines to follow although additional studies are needed.
Open Access Paper:

Also see:

Blood-brain barrier studies
Key cell phone radiation research studies
Potential biologic mechanism


Hallberg Ö, Johansson O. Alzheimer mortality - why does it increase so fast in sparsely populated areas? Europ Biol Bioelectromag 2005; 1: 225-246.