One of the more unique new things about the iPhone 12 is the new MagSafe charging mechanism. Basically, phones in the series—the iPhone 12, 12 Mini, 12 Pro, and 12 Pro Max—come with a magnetic ring around its wireless charging coil, which helps compatible accessories such as the MagSafe wireless charger snap onto the phones.
However, this might also have an unwanted, medical effect. New research from the Heart Rhythm Journal shows that the “strong magnetic array” within the iPhone 12 series and compatible MagSafe cases cause issues with Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillators (ICDs).
What are ICDs, and how are they affected by MagSafe?
According to WebMD, an ICD is a device that is used to treat heart arrhythmias, just like a pacemaker. Both devices have similarities, which include the fact that pacemakers and ICDs are placed under your skin. When your heart beats abnormally, the ICD sends out an electrical shock to return your heart rate to a normal rhythm.
According to researchers, the magnets in the iPhone 12 series were found to deactivate ICDs in patients when the iPhone was brought close to the device’s location. The study also states that this outcome was “reproduced multiple times with different positions of the phone over the (left breast) pocket”.
Researchers warned that their findings showed a public health issue with the iPhone 12, which can “potentially inhibit lifesaving therapy in a patient”—especially when carrying the phone in breast pockets. That said, previous studies have shown “minimal risk” of interference from smartphones without magnetic arrays and ICDs.
Apple does actually have a support page dedicated to this particular issue. The company warns that the iPhone 12 models have more magnets than other iPhones, but that “they’re not expected to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices”. Regardless, the page also states that you should consult your physical and medical device manufacturers on the topic:
“Consult your physician and medical device manufacturer for information specific to your medical device and whether you need to maintain a safe distance of separation between your medical device and iPhone. There are many types of medical devices, and manufacturers often provide recommendations on the safe use of their devices around wireless or magnetic products to prevent possible interference. If you suspect iPhone is interfering with your medical device, stop using your iPhone.”
To read the full study, click here.