Skip to main content

Doctors explain the risk of using an iPhone 12 with pacemakers and defibrillators

iPhone 12 mini vs. iPhone 12
(Image credit: Future)

Apple's iPhone 12 introduced MagSafe in all of its models, from the iPhone 12 mini to the Pro Max, and according to new findings from US cardiologists, it can cause dangerous problems to implanted medical devices.

Each of the 12-series smartphones, along with MagSafe accessories, contains magnets and components that emit electromagnetic fields that can interfere with pacemakers and defibrillators. Passing an iPhone 12 over the chest of someone who relies on these devices could have devastating effects. 

"Once the iPhone was brought close to the ICD over the left chest area, immediate suspension of ICD therapies was noted and persisted for the duration of the test," the report states. The findings were submitted on Heart Rhythm Journal by Henry Ford Hospital cardiologists Gurjit Singh, M.D. and Joshua Greenberg, M.D, with a further briefing going into more details about the results.

As reported a few weeks ago, the findings of the report got the attention of the US FDA federal agency, which regulates medical devices, the Association for the Advancement of Medical Instrumentation, and Apple, which published a warning on its site (opens in new tab). The latest update says to keep the smartphone "more than 6 inches / 15 cm apart or more than 12 inches / 30 cm apart if wirelessly charging." If you want to be extra careful, take those numbers and double it, we say.

According to the doctors, the experiments showed the iPhone 12 could deactivate a defibrillator and cause a pacemaker to send an electrical charge to disrupt heart rhythm. The devices are meant to be controlled by magnets, so MagSafe will cause interference.

As Dr. Singh states, about 300,000 people in the US get these devices implanted each year, and as sales for the iPhone 12 have soared, this only increases the risk. Will Apple replace MagSafe already knowing the risks? One can only think.

Darragh Murphy is fascinated by all things bizarre, which usually leads to assorted coverage varying from washing machines designed for AirPods to the mischievous world of cyberattacks. Whether it's connecting Scar from The Lion King to two-factor authentication or turning his love for gadgets into a fabricated rap battle from 8 Mile, he believes there’s always a quirky spin to be made. With a Master’s degree in Magazine Journalism from The University of Sheffield, along with short stints at Kerrang! and Exposed Magazine, Darragh started his career writing about the tech industry at Time Out Dubai and ShortList Dubai, covering everything from the latest iPhone models and Huawei laptops to massive Esports events in the Middle East. Now, he can be found proudly diving into gaming, gadgets, and letting readers know the joys of docking stations for Laptop Mag.