Although Apple has long acknowledged that its iPhone 12 lineup and MagSafe accessories may interfere with medical devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators, it released additional guidance for people who use medical devices on Saturday. The message: Keep your iPhone 12 and MagSafe accessories a safe distance away from your medical device.
In a support article, spotted by MacRumors, Apple explains that the iPhone 12 contains magnets as well as components and radios that emit electromagnetic fields The company also stated that all its MagSafe accessories contain magnets as well, and that its MagSafe Charger and MagSafe Duo Charger contain radios. These magnets and electromagnetic fields may interfere with medical devices, Apple said.
“Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain sensors that respond to magnets and radios when in close contact,” Apple wrote. “To avoid any potential interactions with these devices, keep your iPhone and MagSafe accessories a safe distance away from your device (more than 6 inches / 15 cm apart or more than 12 inches / 30 cm apart if wirelessly charging). But consult with your physician and your device manufacturer for specific guidelines.”
Defibrillators are devices that restore a person’s normal heartbeat by sending an electric pulse or shock to the heart. They can even help the heart start beating again if it suddenly stops. Pacemakers, meanwhile, use electrical pulses to help hearts beat at a normal rate and rhythm and also help heart chambers beat in sync so that the heart can pump blood more efficiently.
Apple states that users should consult with their physicians and medical device manufacturers for information on their particular devices. Users should ask whether they need to maintain a safe distance of separation between their medical devices and their iPhone or MagSafe accessories. Apple repeated this advice in the safety information section of its iPhone User Guide.
The safety of some of Apple’s newest products has been a point of concern in recent weeks following the publication of a study authored by researchers from the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute that found evidence that the iPhone 12 can interfere with implantable cardioverter defibrillators, also known as ICDs.
The researchers stated that once the iPhone 12—which has a circular array of magnets built into its back in order to allow it to snap to a MagSafe charger or other accessory—was placed near the medical device close to the patient’s heart, the device suspended its operations.
Apple made a point of mentioning in its article that although its iPhone 12 lineup has more magnets than past iPhone lineups, it’s “not expected” to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices than prior models.
This is not meant to bash the iPhone 12 or MagSafe accessories specifically. ICDs can be easily activated and deactivated by sources with magnetic fields, including Fitbits or vape pens. However, this is important information to consider when choosing a new phone or when using it, especially for those who rely on medical devices to remain healthy.