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If you’re interested in science and technology or global communications, you’re likely aware that mobile phones and other radio wave sources give off varying levels of radiation that can be potentially dangerous.
There have been all sorts of claims regarding the related risks, including the possibility that overuse of mobile phones could lead to cancer.
While scientists and studies have struggled to come to an agreement, there has been some evidence that constant exposure to radiation from mobile phones can lead to the increased likelihood of growth of certain tumors.
In order to protect public health and keep the risks from mobile phone transmissions within acceptable levels, an international standard was brought in known as an SAR value.
But how do you know whether your mobile phone is safe?
I have assembled a detailed guide, taking you through all the methods you can use to find out the SAR value of your specific handset.
But first, let’s take a look at exactly what that means:
What is an SAR value?
SAR, or Specific Absorption Rate, is a method used to measure the rate at which the human body absorbs electromagnetic radiation given off by a particular radioactive source.
It is usually measured in terms of the amount of power that is able to be absorbed by a specific mass of tissue and is measured in W/kg (watts per kilogram).
SAR can be used to measure how many different sources of radiation affect the body including MRI machines, ultrasounds and more, but it’s most commonly used to measure the safety of mobile phone handsets.
The highest SAR rating a phone handset is allowed to emit is 2.0W/kg in the European Union, and 1.6W/kg in the United States and India.
As we previously mentioned, the waves given off by mobile phones are carcinogenic and exposure to higher SAR ratings could be very dangerous.
Luckily, these numbers are the maximum SAR value a phone is allowed at any time, and even a phone with an SAR value of 2.0 will actually stay much below this number the vast majority of the time, only giving off up to 2.0W/kg when it is at the furthest point away from any communication masts and working as hard as it possibly can.
Despite this, it is also worth noting that these limits are based on the normal adult human body, and that several studies have suggested that the signals given off by mobile phones may be absorbed by children, women or babies at a much faster rate.
This probably sounds pretty worrying, especially if you haven’t heard about this before and have used mobile phones for your whole life.
So, how do you even check the SAR value of your mobile?
Worry not, because we’ll take you through the 5 simplest methods:
How to Check Your Mobile Phone’s Radiation Level (SAR)
These are not in any particular order as each may be the easiest method depending on your circumstances. Here is a list of methods by which you can check the SAR value of mobile phones:
- By checking your mobile phone’s user guide
- By checking SAR values on the FCC website
- By checking your cell phone manufacturer’s website
- By dialing the USSD Number
- By looking in your phone’s settings
Now , let’s go over them in detail.
1. Check Your Mobile Phone’s User Guide
Most mobile phone user guides these days will display the SAR value of your phone.
If you have lost your user guide or bought your phone pre-owned, you should be able to find a digital version of the user guide online.
We were able to do this by simply typing in the brand and model number of our mobile phones, followed by “user guide” or “instructions”.
This is often one of the quickest and easiest ways to complete a mobile phone radiation check, although you may have to download a PDF version of the user guide and skip through it.
While some manufacturers seem not to provide online user guides, most large companies do and some even have an easily searchable manual database such as this one from Apple.
2. Check the FCC Website
The FCC (or Federal Communications Commission) is the United States’ regulatory body when it comes to regulating communications via radio, internet, satellite and other broadcast technologies.
While they have no authority on the international stage, they do maintain a complete list of mobile phone manufacturers, the SAR ratings of specific handsets, and more public resources that can be hugely helpful, no matter which country you’re in.
We did find it to be a little out of date, missing information on some recent models, but it’s a decent place to take a look, especially if your phone has been in use in the United States for at least a few years.
3. Check Your Mobile Phone Manufacturer’s Website
It’s a legal necessity for all mobile phone manufacturers to list the SAR rating of their products online.
All you need to know is the exact model of your mobile phone.
This is something that will often be displayed on the back of your phone, but if this isn’t the case you should be able to find it in the user guide or in the settings screen.
From there it will be as simple as Googling your phone’s model name or number followed by “SAR”.
Every phone manufacturer should have an SAR page on their website, so it really is that easy!
Just to make things even easier for you, here are a few of those pages:
There are also third party resources online where people have put together lists of the SAR values of mobile phones in huge numbers.
If you need to find the radiation information for large amounts of different mobile phones, for example if you are putting together marketing information for a phone store or eCommerce website, this is likely your easiest path since you can simply CTRL + F most of these lists to find specific handsets quickly.
Just be careful regarding information from dubious sources on the internet – the people typing these lists are only human and can make mistakes, or could even be intentionally misleading.
The manufacturers themselves are always the best place to get the most accurate and reliable information.
4. Dial the USSD Number
If you have your phone on you and it is fully charged, this is by far the easiest way to check your handset’s SAR value.
Dialing the USSD number or “Quick Code” provides you with a ton of information about your phone, including but not limited to RF radiation details such as the SAR rating.
It’s also a great way to instantly check the SAR rating of any phone, for example if you’re with somebody who isn’t aware of absorption rates and you want to show them how easy it is to check!
This number is an international legal requirement and as such will work on any phone handset from any manufacturer, no matter which country you are in.
It’s as easy as this:
- Get up your phone’s keypad or dialling screen
- Dial #07#
- Press call
And that’s all there is to it!
Your phone will give you the SAR rating or take you to the settings screen where this information is visible.
If you have your phone already, as opposed to being curious about the SAR rating of a phone you’re considering purchasing, this is likely by far the easiest method of checking cell phone radiation levels.
This became our favorite method during the research for this guide, because it’s so easy to remember and allows you to get an instant answer regarding any phone you have access to.
5. Look in Your Phone’s Settings
As mentioned above, many phones have a “Details” or “Information” page in the settings that will list various technical specifications about the phone, including the SAR value.
This will provide a wide list of different technical details regarding your phone, along with the relevant legal and copyright information.
Other terms to look out for are “Safety Information”, “Legal”, “SAR Rating”, “RF Exposure” and anything along those lines.
This method can be a little fiddly if you are trying to find out the SAR value for a brand new mobile phone you aren’t quite used to using.
If this is the case for you, we recommend sticking to dialing the USSD.
This technique may become easier as you get more acquainted with your phone however, depending on how accessible the settings page is in the OS of your specific phone.
How Are SAR Values Calculated?
The way SAR is calculated is actually very complicated since it depends on the shape and texture of the human body part that is being exposed to the radiation.
Here is the formula used by scientists and legislators to calculate a specific device’s SAR value:
σ = Conductivity of Material
E = Electric Field(RMS)
md = Mass Density
SAR measures exposure to radio waves specifically.
Waves with a frequency of between 100 kHz and 10gHz are considered to be radio waves and are used for all kinds of modern day communication, with mobile phones being by far the most common and numerous example.
Which Smartphone Has the Lowest SAR Value?
After reading this list, you could be forgiven for asking what the mobile phone with the lowest SAR value in the world might be. I have an article on this website which lists the SAR values of popular smartphones. Go check it out.
The undisputed champion in this area is the Verykool Vortex RS90, which comes with an unbelievable SAR rating of only 0.18!
But, Verykool is a small phone manufacturer you’ve likely never heard of and this phone is very limited in number.
Luckily, you might be surprised to find that one of the large mobile phone brands that gives off the least overall radiation in the world is actually Samsung.
With 3 of their handsets taking up positions in the top 5 phones with the lowest SAR ratings, and 12 of their handsets taking up positions in the top 20, Samsung are arguably the only huge global manufacturer that are putting real work into making their devices as safe as possible.
This is good to know if you want to avoid absorbing too much radiation, but it’s also worth mentioning the SAR rating of Samsung phones does increase with the specifications of the phone, so it’s better to stick to one of the smaller ones like the Samsung Galaxy Note.
In general, as phones have become more advanced and more capable, SAR ratings have increase – so if this is something that’s really important to you, consider getting an older, simpler phone handset.
Irrespective of the mobile phone you own, consider EMF protective cases. Check my review of the ones I recommend.
……So that’s it for today’s guide!
Hopefully you feel a lot more equipped now to figure out the level of radiation you may be exposing yourself to, and why it matters.
If your worried about exposure to radio waves but can’t afford to change your phone or stop using it, consider reducing your use to only essential calls.
Other good ideas can include using an RF blocking phone case – these are thick, protective phone cases specifically designed to block radio frequencies emitted from the phone.
Last but not least, we recommend keeping your phone away from you anytime you don’t need it.
Most of us keep our phones on us 24/7 and over a lifetime that can add up to a lot of exposure.
Something as simple as keeping your phone downstairs when you sleep can make a huge difference to the amount of radio waves you are exposed to every single day, and comes with other benefits such as giving you a more restful, less distracted sleep.
In the long run, we can expect more and more studies to be conducted on the topic, and hopefully we will learn once and for all how much damage our mobile phones are causing us.
Who knows, maybe the constant development of technology will one day allow us to find a more safe method of communication transmission.
Until then, we recommend simply being aware of what you’re carrying around in your pocket and being as mindful and careful as possible.
Thanks a lot for reading, and don’t forget to keep checking back regularly for more useful information, technical guides and actionable tips! Check out my top recommendations for EMF protective cell phone cases.