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smartphone radiation rankings
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Phones that emit the most (and least) radiation

“Kim, I’m concerned that my phone is going to give me cancer. My wife tells me I’m paranoid. What do you think? Thank you for your newsletters and shows. It helps me keep up with our two teens.” — Robert in San Antonio, Texas

I understand your concerns, Robert. The FCC says the radiation coming from your cellphone is no big deal. A cancer surgeon friend told me he begs to differ. I play it safe and keep my phone away from my body and head as much as possible. (Yes, I’m that person taking calls on my AirPods or speakerphone.)

Some phones, it turns out, emit more radiation than others. See where yours falls on the list.

What, exactly, are we measuring?

Specific absorption rate, or SAR, is measured by how much radiation is emitted when you make a call with the phone up to your ear. 

Nerd time: It’s measured in watts per kilogram of body weight. You don’t need to know all the details, just that the legal limit in the U.S. is 1.6 watts/kg. Btw in case you’re wondering, the legal SAR limit in Europe is 2.0 watts/kg.

Livin’ on the Edge

These models emit the most radiation. You definitely want to keep these phones away from your head and body:

  • Motorola Edge – 1.79
  • ZTE Axon 11 dG – 1.59
  • OnePlus 6T – 1.55
  • Sony Xperia XA2 Plus – 1.41
  • Google Pixel 3 XL – 1.39 
  • Google Pixel 4a – 1.37

Own a ZTE or Galaxy Note? Congrats

These phones emit the least radiation:

  • ZTE Blade V10 – 0.13
  • ZTE Axon Elite – 0.17
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10+ 5G – 0.19
  • Samsung Galaxy Note10 – 0.21 
  • Samsung Galaxy A80 – 0.22
  • LG G7 ThinQ – 0.24

What about the iPhone?

You guessed it: It falls somewhere in the middle.

  • iPhone 11 – 0.95
  • iPhone SE (2020 version) – 0.98
  • iPhone 12 – 0.98
  • iPhone 13 – 0.99
  • iPhone 14 – 0.98
  • iPhone 15 – 0.98

I’d rather be safe than sorry

For every study that your phone is perfectly safe, there’s another about the impacts of even low-level radiation on the body. 

I rarely bring my phone to my head or put it in my pocket. AirPods are my favorite way to take a call (I’m an iPhone gal). Go with AirPods Pro if you can. On an Android, here’s a budget earbuds option and the fancy ones.

The one rule of thumb to remember:

Share this important intel with your family and friends. Safety first!

We may receive a commission when you buy through our links, but our reporting and recommendations are always independent and objective.

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