by Nicole Lee and Kent German
April 27, 2011
What it all
A cell phone's
SAR, or its Specific Absorption Rate, is a measure of
the amount of radio frequency (RF) energy absorbed by the body when
using the handset. All cell phones emit RF energy and the SAR varies
by handset model.
For a phone to receive FCC certification and be sold in the United
States, its maximum SAR level must be less than 1.6 watts per
kilogram. In Europe, the level is capped at 2 watts per kilogram,
while Canada allows a maximum of 1.6 watts per kilogram.
The SAR level listed in our charts represents the highest SAR level
measured with the phone next to the ear as tested by the FCC.
in mind that it is possible for the SAR level to vary between
different transmission bands (the same phone can use multiple bands
during a call), and that different testing bodies can obtain
different results. Also, it's possible for results to vary between
different models of the same phone - as in the case of a handset
that's offered by multiple carriers.
CNET lists the exposure for
voice calls only; the SAR for data use can differ.
It's important to note that in publishing this below list, we are in no
way implying that cell phone use is harmful to your health. Research
abounds, but there still is not conclusive or demonstrated evidence
as to whether cell phones cause adverse health effects in humans.
While some studies have found a possible link between long-term (10
years or longer) cell phone use and brain tumors, decreased sperm
count, and other ailments, other research has found no such effects.
The science will continue, and we will continue to monitor the
results, but it can take years of exhaustive research before studies
actually prove anything (if they ever do).
If you're concerned about limiting your SAR exposure, you can take a
few easy steps. You can text instead placing a voice call, use a
speakerphone or headset whenever possible, and carry your phone at
least 1 inch from your body (making sure the antenna is facing away
from you). If you're pregnant, you should avoid carrying a phone
next to your abdomen.
Some researchers also caution against using
your phone in areas with a weak signal since phones emit more
radiation during those times. Children, who have smaller and thinner
skulls, should limit cell phone use, and people of any age should
not sleep with an active phone next to the bedside or under the
Buying a phone with a lower SAR may make you feel more comfortable,
but there's no guarantee that it is inherently safer. Also, note
that even though
Bluetooth headsets emit far weaker radiation than
cell phones, there's still a small amount being transmitted.
If your phone isn't listed here (U.S. customers) and you've
purchased it within the last few years, consult your user manual.
Alternatively, you can request the SAR information from the FCC, the
manufacturer, or your carrier. You'll need the model number and FCC
ID number, which is usually - but not always - listed in the owner's
manual or under the phone's battery (you must pop the battery out).
We'll continue to update the list as new phones are announced.
more information, consult the Food and Drug Administration or the
Environmental Working Group.
cell phones (United States)
When a phone is discontinued by
a manufacturer or a carrier, it will be removed from this chart.
20 Lowest-Radiation cell phones
When a phone is discontinued by a manufacturer or
a carrier, it will be removed from this chart.
Other Trade Mark Models,