Earlier this month, an alarming, albeit small, study shared by the American Heart Association revealed pacemakers and similar implantable cardioverter defibrillators could experience electromagnetic interference when within close range of Apple’s latest iPhone 12 series, which touts Apple’s MagSafe wireless charging technology. Of the 14 devices tested, 11 displayed at least some noticeable effects after being placed within 1.5 centimeters of the smartphones, some of which were still in the medical manufacturer’s original packaging.
While a distressing bit of news, it’s not exactly surprising given MagSafe’s whole conceit, which has “magnet” in the name of the technology. Still, Apple’s latest updated inventory of all products that could potentially cause pacemakers to skip a beat is still pretty absurd — AirPods, Apple Watches, HomePods, iPads, Macs, and Beats Headphones along with most of their respective accessories and chargers. According to the company’s warnings, pretty much any recent Apple release should be kept at a safe distance away from your chest if you suffer from a related medical condition. Additionally, “the FDA recommends keeping all electronic devices with magnets at least six inches away from implanted medical devices, such as pacemakers and defibrillators,” according to the AMA.
But, hey. In exchange for medically unsound ramifications, you can make the charger thingy stick to the phone thingy... which is fun and cool and totally worth the trade.
A relatively recent development — Until recently, studies have shown very little risk posed by cellphones and similar electronic devices. The specific introduction of stronger magnetic-based tech like Apple’s MagSafe have finally upped the ante on this, prompting the FDA and other watchdogs to issue these latest warnings.
“We have always known that magnets can interfere with cardiac implantable electronic devices, however, we were surprised by the strength of the magnets used in the iPhone 12 magnet technology,” said lead study investigator, Dr. Michael Wu. “In general, a magnet can change a pacemaker’s timing or deactivate a defibrillator’s lifesaving functions, and this research indicate the urgency for everyone to be aware that electronic devices with magnets can interfere with cardiac implantable electronic devices.”
With an estimated 50,000 Americans over the age of 65 receiving some form of cardioverter-related implant per year, that’s a sizable portion of people who will need to be additionally careful when using these newer products — items that don’t appear to be abandoning the magnetic updates anytime soon.