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Shining eyes - radiant mobile?

BfS provides information about low-radiation smartphones and tablets

Year of issue 2018
Date 2018.12.13

Father Christmas photographed with a smartphone

People looking to treat their loved ones with a mobile or tablet for Christmas should consider low-radiation devices when making their purchase. On its website, the Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) provides information about the SAR values of current devices and their predecessors.

According to current statistics, 61% of Germans buy a new mobile at least once per year and 86% own a smartphone. And smartphones and tablets are some of the favourite gifts under the Christmas tree.

"When purchasing a new smartphone or tablet, consumers should consider not only the technical properties but also how much radiation is emitted by the device. We advise consumers to find out about the SAR values of devices before they make a purchase. On its website, the BfS provides a comprehensive list", says Inge Paulini, President of the Federal Office for Radiation Protection.

What is the SAR value?

Smartphones and tablets use high-frequency electromagnetic fields to transfer speech or data. Because devices are carried close to the body, part of the energy from these fields is absorbed, for example by the head or upper body in the form of heat. A measure of this energy absorption is the specific absorption rate (SAR), which is given in watts per kilogram.

Limit values are set to prevent effects that are detrimental to health. According to international guidelines, the SAR should be limited to 2 watts per kilogram. Mobile devices with a SAR value of up to 0.5 watts per kilogram are considered low-radiation (as regards exposure of the head). The SAR value of a device can usually be found in the operating instructions. On its website, the BfS provides information about the SAR values of devices currently available on the market.

BfS provides information about SAR values

The SAR values list compiled by the BfS has been available online since 2002 and is updated regularly. The database now includes 3,383 devices from 78 manufacturers - from the latest models to mobiles that are no longer manufactured but are sometimes still available on the market either new or second hand.

Where information is available, the list provides two SAR values for each device:

  • one value for using the device as a telephone by the ear and
  • one value for its operation when carrying the device close to the body.

Furthermore, there is a search function and a range of search filters. Results can be filtered by manufacturer and specifically by SAR value.

Low-radiation devices are those which fulfil the sub-requirement of the Blue Angel radiation protection criteria of "SAR to the head less than/equal to 0.5 watts per kilogram"; these are marked with a green symbol.

State of 2018.12.13

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