If you are planning to dump your mobile phone after reading the latest Statista report on smartphone radiation then you need not do so. This is because the list of smartphones emitting the most radiation compiled by Statista is based on the information provided by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection (Bundesamt für Strahlenschutz). Needless to say, India and Germany have different regulations for mobile radiation and Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). Having said that it is mandatory for every mobile phone company to follow the local laws and regulations if they want to sell mobile handsets in that particular region.
Also read: 40 popular Android phones and their radiation (or SAR) levels
The latest Statista report has put out 16 smartphones with the maximum SAR levels. The list of SAR values (in watts (W) per kilogram (kg) was topped by phones like Xiaomi Mi A1 (1.75W/kg) OnePlus 5T (1.68W/kg), the Xiaomi Mi Max 3 (1.58W/kg) and the OnePlus 6T 1.55W/kg). And the media in general was quick to report these smartphones as the most harmful. Even Google Pixel 3XL is included in the list of so-called ‘offenders’ of mobile radiation. But little, if anyone, seems to have focussed on the the permissible levels of SAR in India and Germany.
In India, the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) has established guidelines for radiation levels in 2012. The government has set a SAR limit of 1.6 W/kg averaged over one gram of tissue as the safe limit. The SAR levels are recorded when the device is held against the head (called Head SAR) and when it is operated at a separation distance of 1.5cm from the body (called body SAR). Both -- head and body SAR levels -- should be under 1.6W/kg for every mobile handsets that is being sold in India. Now, in Germany, the permissible level of SAR is 2W/kg, which is higher compared to the Indian limit.
As far as the Statista report is concerned, the maximum SAR value recorded by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection is 1.75W/kg on the Xiaomi Mi A1, which is below the limit of 2 W/kg in Germany. In the Indian context, Xiaomi sells a different model of Mi A1, which has a SAR level that is different. The Mi A1 model sold in India has a claimed SAR level of 1.26W/kg (head) and 0.17W/kg (body) which falls well below the prescribed limit of 1.6W/kg.
The media, quoting the same Statista report, has highlighted the OnePlus 5T as the “second biggest offender” as its SAR level recorded by the German agency is 1.68W/kg. It goes without saying that the same again is permissible in Germany. In India, OnePlus sells a different model of the OnePlus 5T with SAR levels of 1.41 W/kg (head) and 0.510 W/kg (body) in accordance with the local laws.
The same applies for all the phones listed by Statista (in the report attached below). Also, note that this list is based on the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection data which allows up to 2W/kg SAR and not 1.6W/kg like in India.