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The Chicago Tribune Test
The basis for the lawsuit actually started back in August, when The Chicago Tribune carried out an independent investigation into the radiofrequency emissions of popular smartphone models.
Through testing conducted by an accredited lab, the investigation found that some Apple iPhones and other smartphones allegedly emitted RF radiation above federal safety limits.
- Some of the models that exceeded those limits included the iPhone 7, iPhone 8, and iPhone X.
- The lab also found that devices manufactured by Samsung, Vivo, and Motorola also tested above legal limits.
Apple later contested the results of the testing, calling the experiment inaccurate. The company also said that it carried out its own review and concluded that its devices are “in compliance and met all applicable … exposure guidelines and limits.”
Fegan Scott Testing & Lawsuit
At the time, the FCC said that it would launch its own investigation into the matter. But a few days later, Chicago-based law firm Fegan Scott said it would take matters into its own hands.
The law firm carried out its own testing through an FCC-accredited lab. It sought to simulate “actual use conditions” by testing at 0mm and 2mm distances, rather than the 5mm distance that Apple tests at.
It allegedly found that the iPhone 8 and Galaxy S8 emitted “more than twice the federal exposure limit” at two millimeters. At zero millimeters, the iPhone 8 emitted “five times more” than that limit.
“The independent results confirm that RF radiation levels are well over the federal exposure limit, sometimes exceeding it by 500 percent, when phones are used in the way Apple and Samsung encourage us to,” said Beth Fagan, one of the firm’s managing partners.
After receiving the results of their test, Fegan Scott officially filed a lawsuit against the smartphone manufacturers Friday in California, Illinois, and Iowa. It alleges that the smartphone manufacturers “intentionally misrepresented” how safe their devices were.
More specifically, the complaint accuses both Apple and Samsung of “negligence, breach of warranty, consumer fraud and unjust enrichment.” It seeks an unspecified amount of damages and payment for medical monitoring.
What This Means for You
It’s worth noting that The Chicago Tribune’s testing was meant to simulate the worst possible scenario, meaning that users won’t necessarily reach those levels of RF radiation exposure during normal usage. It isn’t clear whether Fagan Scott’s testing was carried out in the same way.
There’s also no concrete evidence that RF radiation levels above federal limits can actually cause harm to users. So while it makes for a punchy headline, users shouldn’t be too alarmed at the results.
Additionally, the FCC has yet to complete its own investigation into the matter. When it finishes up, it should provide better and arguably more objective insight into iPhone and Galaxy radiation levels and what that means for consumer health.
In the meantime, if you’re worried about radiation levels, Apple recommends that you use hands-free solutions on your iPhone.
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