This week, Apple released clarifications in its support documents to allay consumer concerns that, due to the presence of the MagSafe magnet system in new iPhones, the iPhone 12 and its 2020 peers are particularly unsafe to be near an implantable device. cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) or pacemaker.
Apple’s updated warning to customers echoes previous statements that it’s unsafe to keep an iPhone within 15 inches of an ICD or pacemaker (or within 15 inches, while charging wirelessly). The warning also claims that the iPhone 12 is not specifically more dangerous than other models.
Several weeks ago, Heart Rhythm Journal published results of a test that repeatedly found that moving an iPhone 12 with MagSafe near a patient’s ICD interfered with that life-saving device. After that report, tech enthusiasts took to forums, Twitter and Reddit to spread speculation that the iPhone 12 would be particularly dangerous for people with pacemakers due to the introduction of MagSafe.
However, the magazine failed to mention that modern smartphones already contain magnets and emit signals that necessitate users with ICDs or pacemakers to keep them several inches away from those medical devices, even before the introduction of MagSafe on the iPhone line in 2020.
In other words, it is indeed unsafe to keep the iPhone 12 close to these medical devices, but it was also unsafe to do so with the iPhone 11, iPhone X or any number of competing smartphones. In the update to the support document, Apple claims that the iPhone 12’s MagSafe feature doesn’t change the warning because the warning was already there.
This is what it says:
In addition to magnets, iPhone also contains components and radios that emit electromagnetic fields. All MagSafe accessories (each sold separately) also include magnets – and MagSafe Charger and MagSafe Duo Charger include radios. These magnets and electromagnetic fields can interfere with medical devices.
While all iPhone 12 models contain more magnets than previous iPhone models, they are not expected to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference with medical devices than previous iPhone models.
Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators may contain sensors that react to magnets and radios upon close contact. To avoid possible interaction with these devices, keep your iPhone and MagSafe accessories a safe distance from your device (more than 6 inches (15 cm) apart or more than 12 inches (30 cm) apart when charging wirelessly). But check with your doctor and your device manufacturer for specific guidelines.
For those unfamiliar: MagSafe is a feature in new iPhones that allows the devices to be magnetically attached to a small Qi wireless charging pad, among other things. This magnetic alignment allows for more optimal charging speeds than in previous iPhone models.
MagSafe was also previously offered on Macs, albeit in a slightly different form. And recent reports suggest it may return to the Mac soon.
List image by Samuel Axon