Cell phones are known to emit EMF radiations that are absorbed by human bodies. The Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) refers to the amount of radiofrequency that your body absorbs as a result of emissions from your cell phone.
There are several low and high SAR cell phones on the market. Note that the higher the SAR value of your cell phone, the higher the amount of radiation you expose your body to while using the cell phone. One of the lowest SAR cell phones on the market is the Verykool Vortex RS90 with only 0.18 SAR.
It is important to note that the SAR rating of cellphones plays a vital role in the health implications from cell phones. To know more about SAR ratings and their effect on your health, read on.
What is SAR?
SAR refers to the rate at which energy is absorbed by a human body per unit mass when the body is exposed to a radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF). In other words, SAR assesses the amount of radiation that a body absorbs from a cell phone. For instance, an iPhone XR has a SAR of 1.13, which relates to 1.13 watts per kilogram.
All cell phone models are usually tested for SAR to ensure that they meet the national and international exposure limits that have been imposed by regulatory bodies before they become available on the market.
In 1996, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in conjunction with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and other health and safety agencies published a set of rules that defined the legal (or safe) exposure limits to the radiofrequency emitted by cell phones. These limits were decided to be a unit of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
Any mobile phone whose SAR is found to be above this exposure limit is considered unsafe and in violation of the law. Hence, every cell phone manufacturer has to ensure that the mobile device they have produced complies with the safe exposure limits determined by regulatory bodies.
The safe exposure limit from cell phones that was determined by the FCC is a SAR value of 1.6 watts per kilogram (W/kg).
As mentioned earlier, SAR refers to the amount of radiation that is absorbed by the human body from a cell phone. To determine this value, a dummy is used instead of an actual human.
However, this dummy is not just any dummy; it is a mannequin that is known as Specific Anthropomorphic Mannequin (or SAM). SAM is the imitation of a man that is 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 meters) tall and weighs 220 lbs. (99.7 kg). This body size is estimated to be bigger and heavier than that of 97% of the entire human pollution.
Who Conducts SAR Testing?
In the United States, the FCC is the primary regulator of electromagnetic field emissions from consumer electronics. While they are in charge of setting the limit for the maximum exposure limit for the SAR of a cell phone, they do not test the phones themselves.
This is, instead, the responsibility of the manufacturer of the phone. This means that every cell phone manufacturer, like Apple and Samsung, determines the SAR level of their mobile phones.
This is actually surprising because there is the likelihood that they will lie. And unsurprisingly, they sometimes falsify the SAR rating of their products. For instance, in 2019, the Chicago Tribune decided to conduct tests on 11 different cell phones at the RF Exposure Lab in San Marcos, California.
The results of these tests showed that: “Radiofrequency radiation exposure from the iPhone 7 — one of the most popular smartphones ever sold — measured over the legal safety limit and more than double what Apple reported to federal regulators from its testing.”
Similarly, in 2018, the Canadian government had recalled a cell phone, the Alcatel U50, from the market because it was emitting radio frequency that was above the legal exposure limit.
Essentially, the SAR value that is provided by cell phone manufacturers is not always accurate. This renders it necessary that you take steps to reduce the amount of radiation that your body is exposed to from your cell phone.
How to Check the SAR Rating of your Cell Phone
There are several ways to check the SAR value of your cell phone, of which this article mentions two:
- If your mobile phone is legally sold in the United States, then you can find its SAR value through the FCC database; however, you need the FCC ID number of the device. The FCC ID number is usually provided on the case of the mobile phone. As soon as you have this number, proceed to the following web address: https://www.fcc.gov/oet/ea/fccid. On the website, follow the instructions that have been provided on entering the FCC ID number.
- You will have to input the required number in two parts. The first part, which is the “Grantee Code” includes the first three characters of the FCC ID number. The second part, which is the “Equipment Product Code” comprises the remainder of the FCC ID number.
- After you enter the code, click on “Start Search.”
- When your search is complete, you will be provided with the grant of equipment authorization for your cell phone. The highest SAR values that were found during testing are reported in the equipment certification test data, which are available in the comment section of the grant of equipment certification.
- Every cell phone manufacturer is required to have a coding method through which they can provide information about the mobile device to the service provider. When you dial this code, it provides you with information concerning the device, including its SAR rating. To use this method, open up your phone to make a call. Enter the shortcode: *#07#. Press the call or send button; this will make the required information available for you.
Check out this YouTube video to learn more about SAR, including what it is about and how to calculate the SAR value of your cell phone:
The Position of the Cell Phone During Testing
The distance of a cell phone from the body usually determines the level at which the body is exposed to the radiofrequency emitted by the phone. That is, there is a difference between the amount of exposure absorbed by the body when a phone is held against it and when it is held at a small distance away.
Although it is not the right way to use them, most people hold cell phones against their head. Also, because of the convenience it provides, the majority of people keep cell phones in their pockets. You must know that these are dangerous positions to put cell phones because of the proximity to the body.
As a result of the details as mentioned above, the best place to put the cell phone during testing would be directly against the SAM as that is the most common way people use cell phones. However, some cell phone manufacturers such as Apple place the device about 5mm away from the body.
In contrast, the cell phone company (Apple) had advised its customers using other iPhone models to place their cell phones a minimum of 10mm away from their body.
Top 20 Cell Phones with Lowest SAR Ratings
|Rank||Phone Model||Sar Rating||Carrier|
|1.||Verykool Vortex RS90||0.18||Unlocked|
|2.||Samsung Galaxy Note||0.19||T-Mobile|
|3.||ZTE Nubia 5||0.225||Unlocked|
|4.||Samsung Galaxy Note 2||0.28||Verizon|
|5.||Samsung Galaxy Mega||0.321||AT&T|
|6.||Kyocera Dura XT||0.328||Sprint|
|8.||Samsung Galaxy Beam||0.36||Unlocked|
|9.||Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II||0.37||Verizon|
|11.||Samsung Jitterbug Plus||0.4||Great Call|
|12.||Jitterbug Plus||0.4||Great Call|
|14.||Samsung Galaxy Note 2||0.43||Sprint|
|15.||HTC One V||0.455||US Cellular|
|16.||LG Optimus Vu||0.462||Unlocked|
|17.||Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G||0.47||T-Mobile|
|18.||Samsung Rugby 3||0.47||AT&T|
|19.||HTC One Max||0.5||Sprint|
The higher the SAR value of a cell phone, the higher the emissions from the cell phone. Note that the SAR values provided by cell phone manufacturers are not always accurate.
This is because the conditions under which the SAR test was conducted hugely matters. For instance, the distance of the cell phone from the body, the availability of network in the area, the number of connections that are used simultaneously, etc. influences the SAR value.
It is, therefore, advised that you assume that the SAR rating of your cell phone is at its worst and act accordingly.Click on this YouTube link to learn more about SAR, including what it is about and how to calculate the SAR value of your cell phone.