Have you got a thing about radiation from mobile phones? If so, you’re not alone. All mobile phone manufacturers have to publish measurements that reveal the level of radiation. This makes it easy to see which the lowest emitters are and which are the highest.

We recently ran a blog on mobile phones emitting radiation. Despite a mass of research into the effects, the evidence is largely inconclusive. But it’s an issue that is still live and many phone manufacturers publish specific absorption rates (SAR) to let customer’s know the levels of radiation emitted from their phones.

SAR “safe” limits

Various regulatory bodies have set ‘safe’ limits for SAR measurements. For instance, the US Federal Communications Community limits radio frequency exposure to a SAR value of 1.60 watts/kilogram over 1 gram/tissue.

In Europe the limit is higher and set at 2.00 watts/kilogram averaged over 10 grams/tissue. These figures are the amount of radiation absorbed by the body and they do differ according to the body parts affected. For instance the SAR rate for the ear will likely be higher than that of the body.

It’s also important to note that while SAR values are an important tool in judging the maximum possible exposure to radiofrequency energy (radiation) from a mobile a single SAR value does not provide measure the total amount of radiation.

You may be talking on your phone and absorbing radiation while your body is also absorbing the radiofrequency but at a different rate. As such the SAR value limits ensure that a phone does not exceed maximum permissible exposure levels. They are not the total absorption rate. But that said the lower the SAR value, the better

How SAR levels are calculated

To give you some sense of mobile phones that have a relatively low SAR we’ve trawled the internet to compose a list. But before we get there it might be useful to understand how SAR levels are calculated:

  • Testing takes place using models of the head and body that are filled with liquids to simulate the radio frequency absorption characteristics of different human tissues.
  • Each phone is tested while running at full power in all the frequency bands in which it operates, and in different positions against the dummy’s head and body.
  • A robotic probe takes a series of measurements of the electric field at specific locations in a precise, grid-like pattern within the dummy head and torso.

What SAR ratings don’t tell you?

The SAR is a measure of the energy deposition in radiofrequency; the higher the SAR the more radiofrequency energy. As such higher SAR is correlated with higher potential damage but it is not a measure of the damage, that is, it doesn’t quantify the biological effect on the body of radiofrequency.

Top 10 Low SAR rate phones

The SAR values listed below are based on the US Federal Communications Community guidelines. Because European criteria are higher approximate calculations using the European standard would place the SAR value lower than the US equivalent.

The SAR rated phones listed below are specific to the ear/head. For the body the SAR is a little different, usually a bit lower.

  • Samsung Galaxy A5 - 0.65
  • Microsoft Lumia 535 - 0.46
  • Samsung Gusto 3- 0.53
  • Microsoft Lumia 535 Dual SIM
  • Micromax Unite 3 - 0.20
  • Samsung Galaxy Grand Neo Plus - 0.374
  • LG 450 - 0.36
  • Samsung Jitterbug 5 - 0.40
  • LG A380 - 0.41
  • LG G3 Beat - 0.46

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Top 10 High SAR rate phones

  • Alcatel 1010 - 1.08
  • BlackBerry Bold 9790 - 1.73
  • BlackBerry Curve 9320 - 1.56
  • HTC Desire X - 1.59
  • Motorola V50 - 1.19
  • Nokia 105 - 1.48
  • Nokia 8810 - 1.14
  • Nokia Asha 503 - 1.44
  • Samsung S300 - 1.14
  • Sony Ericsson Z1010 - 1.41

iPhone SAR ratings

The following SAR values reveal that reducing radiofrequency emissions doesn’t seem to be high on Apple’s list of priorities, given that they tend towards the higher end.

  • iPhone 6S - 1.14
  • iPhone 6S Plus - 1.14
  • iPhone 6 - 1.14
  • iPhone 6 Plus - 1.16
  • iPhone 5S - 1.18
  • iPhone 5C - 1.19
  • iPhone 5 - 1.18
  • iPhone 4S - 1.19
  • iPhone 4 - 1.11
  • iPhone 3GS - 0.67

It’s also worth looking at other high-end smart phones SAR measurements. The devices listed below can be compared to Apple’s latest iPhone 6 in terms of functionality and specifications.

  • LG G3 - 0.68
  • Samsung Galaxy Note 4 - 0.86
  • Samsung Galaxy S5 - 0.82
  • Samsung Galaxy S4 - 1.17
  • HTC One M8 - 1.17
  • Amazon Fire Phone - 1.34
  • Motorola Moto X II - 1.40

For a comprehensive list of phone models and their SAR values, www.sarvalues.com provides unrivalled insight. It’s not clear how up-to-date the site is because if doesn’t list SAR values for the iPhone 6 but that said it does provide a detailed breakdown of all the major manufacturers and relatively recent models in Europe.

The future

Clearly most phone manufacturers recognise the importance of at least keeping their products within the specified guidelines. If they didn’t they couldn’t sell their phones within the respective markets.

Until long-term research proves that phones can cause biological damage, and that may never be the case, manufacturers will continue to produce devices that meet regulatory requirements.

Some mobile phone component manufacturers are developing processors for example that do have low SAR measurements, but until it becomes an issue that can potentially affect business things will continue unchanged.

Precautionary steps

If you are concerned about radiation from your phone there are steps you can take to minimise the amount that is absorbed. You could always move to the town of Green Bank in the US state of West Virginia where mobile phones are banned, which of course is a little extreme.

Or you can take a few simple steps to minimise exposure. In the previous blog we did mention some of the things you can do, but they are worth reiterating:

  • Try to use headsets all the time, avoid putting your phone on your ears. This is the best way to stay away from radiations of your smartphones.
  • Try to use texts more instead of calling. Call only when it is important.
  • Switch off your phone when you go to bed or put your phone on airplane mode and then turn ON the Wi-Fi, if you want anyone to reach out to you via internet
  • There are various ‘shields’ available out in the market which claim to minimise radiation absorption but do be careful about the claims and the efficacy of the shields.
  • Avoid using your phone in areas where the signal strength is poor. When your phone is searching for the network its antennas produce radiations at a maximum limit.
  • Consider getting a low value SAR phone