We all know, however vaguely, that smartphones, tablets, and other electronic devices that utilise a network use electromagnetic frequency. This means that they both absorb and emit radiation, something that is unwanted at best and dangerous at worst to our health. That said, different smartphones with different technologies emit different levels of radiation.

What is Specific Absorption Rate (SAR)?

Specific Absorption Rate, or SAR for short, is a measurement of the rate at which the human body absorbs energy when exposed to a radio frequency electromagnetic field. Any electronic device that emits radio frequency, such as a smartphone, is a source of such energy.

SAR Misconceptions

Since SAR measures radiation absorption levels, the next logical train of thought would be: lower SAR levels, lower risk of use, right? Not really. In actuality, SAR values alone are insufficient data to inform about radio frequency exposure under normal usage conditions. However, SAR values are used as a quantifiable benchmark tool to ensure that your smartphone operates within the permissible exposure level, even in times of extreme use.

What Are Safe SAR Levels?

The limit set by the Federal Communications Commission of the United States for smartphone SAR levels is 1.6 Watts per kilogram, although this limit may vary by country and regulating bodies.

Are There Radiation-Free Smartphones?

Does your smartphone connect to a network, be it for data, calls, or SMS? Then your smartphone won’t be radiation-free. Again, SAR levels are but one indicator of radiation absorption by the human body and isn’t a definitive mitigator by itself, but a lower SAR value may well be helpful in the larger picture.

SAR Levels for Smartphones

Different smartphones have different SAR values. This differs not just between brands, but also between phone models of the same brand. Therefore, no one SAR value should be the determiner of your next smartphone model. However, here are a few smartphone SAR values, as compiled by Statista, for your consideration:

Image via Statista

But don’t shy away from these smartphones yet! Remember, the SAR value isn’t the final word on radiation levels, so these smartphones can still be safe to use depending on how you use them.

How to Reduce Radiation Exposure from Smartphones

Regardless of the SAR value of your smartphone, there are several general ways to reduce radiation exposure from your smartphone.

Use an Earpiece or Loudspeaker

For all that smartphones work on radio frequency wavelengths, the effective radio frequency field surrounding the mobile device is actually pretty small. Doing something as simple as turning on your loudspeaker or using an earpiece (such as a Bluetooth headset or a hands-free) will do wonders to drastically reduce your radiation exposure, at least when you’re on calls.

Call Less

Phone calls are the most instant and direct way to communicate verbal information over long distances, sans VoIPs. Smartphones emit the most radiation when they constantly need to be in contact with the nearest base station that sends and receives wavelengths. In addition to that, calls are typically made with smartphones pressed right up against the head, creating a constant, maximised radio frequency exposure for the user. Conversely, your smartphone is at least a distance away when you view texts, emails, pictures, TV, and downloads. Simply calling less will reduce your exposure quite significantly.


Now that you know about SAR and ways to reduce the effects of radiation, hopefully you’ll practice safer smartphone usage practices!

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