When it comes to the dangers of RF radiation, for many people, mobile phones are a primary cause for concern. In the modern world, it’s almost impossible to escape your phone. After all, you carry it everywhere you go, you hold it up to your head when you want to take a call, and many people even sleep with them at their bedside.
All in all, phones have a tendency to follow us everywhere we go, which is why it’s important to ensure that your phone poses as little danger to your health as possible. That brings us back to RF radiation and the potentially hazardous risks posed by carrying a phone around all day.
Evidence shows that high exposure to RF radiation can cause health problems in humans, particularly in the eyes and testes – both areas which a mobile phone could come into very close contact with.
Of course, there are a variety of methods for avoiding RF radiation. You can limit your phone use or buy yourself an RF shielding case. That being said, the best method for avoiding the hazards of RF radiation is to absorb as little as possible, and that’s why many people are starting to change their phone habits and keep a close eye on their phone’s SAR rating.
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What Is An SAR Rating?
The specific absorption rate (or SAR) of a phone is a measurement that is taken and publicly released by the FCC for every commercially available phone within the United States. In theory, it measures the level of RF radiation absorbed by a human being whilst using their mobile phone. We say ‘in theory’ because there are some legitimate concerns with using SAR as a hazard measurement, but we’ll come back to those later.
RF – in case you weren’t aware – stands for ‘radio frequency’ and is emitted by virtually all wireless devices in one way or another. Evidence shows that high quantities of RF radiation can be harmful to human beings, however, there are at present very few serious regulations on large tech industries to mitigate this problem.
SAR is one of the few standards by which the industry must abide. Although the standards are not as strict as we would like, they do at least force some level of compliance from large tech companies whilst also giving us a way to assess the danger of any given phone.
Is SAR A Valid Metric For Measuring A Phone’s Potential Hazard Level?
Well, as with most things science related, the answer is a little more complicated than a straightforward yes or no. That is to say that, while SAR is absolutely a valid metric for measuring a phone’s hazard level, it is not the only one.
Measuring SAR tells us how much RF radiation is being absorbed by the human body. This is very useful because it gives us a pretty good indication of the relative danger level of different types of phones. What it doesn’t tell us is exactly how much danger you’re in from any given phone, only which phones emit more radiation than others.
Put simply, it’s a purely comparative scale and a slightly vague one at that. The actual amount of radiation emitted by a phone varies massively during usage and a single SAR reading tells us very little about how the phone will behave on a day-to-day basis. What it does tell us is how phones stack up against each other under lab conditions.
The long and the short of it is that while SAR is absolutely a valid metric for comparing the radiation levels of different phones, and a low SAR phone will be safer, that’s not the same as saying it will be safe. As it stands, there is no easy way of knowing whether or not a given mobile phone will emit high amounts of RF radiation during usage, which is why it’s always good to take precautions.
All in all, if you’re worried about the potential effects of EMF, then you should probably still consider limiting your phone usage.
The Official SAR Regulations
So, we’ve talked about the dangers of a high SAR rating, but what do the regulations actually say? Can large tech companies really get away with emitting high quantities of RF radiation directly into your brain?
Well, in the US, FCC regulations clearly state that a phone’s SAR should fall below 1.6 W/kg when tested. Beyond that, companies are pretty much given free rein to do as they like and many have chosen to outright ignore their SAR ratings so long as they come below the legal threshold.
That’s not to say that all (or even most) phones actually hit that 1.6 W/kg threshold, but some come pretty close.
The Best Companies To Go With
At the end of the day, some companies are just more diligent than others about these things. For example, the iPhone 13 has a shocking rating of 1.19 W/kg, while the HTC One Max is only 0.5 W/kg.
If you want the absolute best company across the board for SAR ratings then look no further than Samsung.
Samsung phones are some of the most popular in the world. They are high quality and generally keep up to date with all the features you’d expect from the latest in mobile phone technology. At the same time, Samsung phones consistently have some of the lowest SAR ratings out there. The reason for this is that they use a unique kind of headset antenna that is designed to direct most of the radiation away from the ear.
At this point, you might reasonably ask why most of their competitors haven’t adopted a similar policy. After all, having an omnidirectional antenna has little to no advantage when it comes to signal strength.
While it’s hard to speculate about the internal economics of large tech companies, the answer likely comes down to limited R&D budgets and a lack of care on the part of the designers. Simply put, while they’re neither legally nor financially incentivised to fix this problem, they’re not going to spend the money that’s necessary to do so.
The 20 Best Low Radiation Phones Available In 2023
The following is a list of the top 20 phones in the world for low SAR ratings. Their ratings are measured in Watts per Kilogram (W/kg):
- ZTE Blade V10
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8
- ZTE Axon Elite
- Verykool Vortex RS90
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10
- ZTE Nubia 5
- Samsung Galaxy Note 2
- Samsung Galaxy Mega
- Kyocera Dura XT
- Pantech Discover
- Samsung Galaxy Beam
- Samsung Galaxy Stratosphere II
- Pantech Swift
- Samsung Jitterbug Plus
- Jitterbug Plus
- LG Exalt
- Samsung Galaxy Note 2
- HTC One V
- LG Optimus Vu
- Samsung Galaxy S Relay 4G
The Best Of The Bunch
Before we go on to a breakdown of how these phones have such low SAR ratings, and what you should do if your phone has a high SAR, we’d like to take a moment to talk about some of the more popular or significant entries on this list.
(Please bear in mind that none of these reviews are paid for and that they should be considered a mix of our own opinions and customer reviews.)
The ZTE Blade V10
It might not be the most famous entry on the list, but we felt the number one entry deserved more than a passing mention.
If you’re looking for a decent phone with a low SAR rating then you honestly couldn’t do much better than the ZTE Blade V10. While it’s not what you’d call bleeding-edge technology, the Blade V10 is a reliable little phone with a sharp screen and favourable customer reviews.
It has a 6.3-inch display, a 16 megapixel camera, and up to four GigaBytes of RAM. Although it is not equipped for 5G, the Blade V10 is fast, affordable, and easy to use.
Samsung Galaxy Note 10
If you’re looking to get a little more phone and don’t mind spending the extra money, then the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 is the choice for you. Released in 2019, the Galaxy Note 10 is the best trade-off you’ll find between top-of-the-line tech and low RF radiation.
With a 2.7GHz octa-core processor, a 6.3-inch display, S pen support, and a dual aperture camera, this is the perfect phone for anyone looking to geek out about their gadgets without taking any health risks.
As our third and final shout-out, we’d like to direct you to the Pantech discover – a gorgeous little phone and the perfect middle ground. Relatively inexpensive, the Pantech Discover is a fast, functional, modern smartphone with all the features you need and an SAR of only 0.386 W/kg.
It has a dual-core processor, a 12.6-megapixel camera, and a 4.8-inch HD, touch-screen display. It’s the ideal compromise between price, features, and safety.
How Do These Manufacturers Get Their SAR Levels So Low?
Looking over the lowest radiation phones on the market, it’s easy to see a clear trend developing of certain manufacturers over others. As we’ve already mentioned, Samsung are very much at the top of this game with practically every one of their recent phones scoring below a 0.6 W/kg.
Other names you’ll see repeated over and over again are ZTE, Pantech, and LG. All of these companies have designs that, in one way or another, seem to minimise RF exposure leading to a lower rating overall.
But is it really necessary to rush out and buy one of the phones on this list?
Why Choose a Phone With A Low SAR?
Low SAR isn’t a sure-fire stamp of approval – nothing is under the current system – but it can be treated as a reasonable indicator. While a low SAR rating won’t tell you for sure whether or not your phone is dangerous, what it will tell you is that it’s less dangerous than the competitors.
More than that, going to the effort of buying phones with low SAR shows that you, as a consumer, care about this issue. The fact of that matter is that if we want governments and companies to change the way they treat this issue then we have to make it clear that the desire for low radiation levels is a significant market force.
How To Find Out The SAR of YOUR phone
The SAR of a phone that is commercially available within the United States is a publicly available piece of information. While the specific information for your phone may be hard to track down – largely depending on the popularity/age of the model/make – there are several excellent sites out there that are devoted to cataloguing and recording this information.
Alternatively, if you can’t find the information online, then you should be able to access it in your phone’s settings. While the exact method will vary between operating systems, most smartphones should have a section in their ‘about phone’ relating to RF exposure and SAR levels.
If all else fails, you can try using this USSD code: *#07#
Simply type that code into your phone’s keypad and you should be given all the available information on your phone’s SAR value.
Is it Worth Replacing A Phone With A High SAR?
Ultimately, decisions like this are always a matter of personal discretion. As we’ve said multiple times throughout this article, a high SAR is an indicator of higher RF radiation but it is not the be-all and end-all. There are other ways to protect yourself, but the most effective method will always be a combination of strategies.
If you love your phone and don’t want to replace it, then you should still take precautions like limiting your usage if you want to avoid RF radiation. That being said, next time your contract renewal rolls around, you should probably consider checking out this list again.
When all is said and done, what most consumers want is peace of mind. By sharing this information and publicising responsible techniques for reducing your RF exposure, we hope to give you just that and to shine more of a light on this crucial issue.