How to Understand and Find Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of Your Mobile Device

Hi Pong Friends,

One of our most popular blog posts – How to Find the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of a Cell Phone – dates way back to October of 2012. Everyday, interested people find that article in the hopes of learning about SAR.

With that, we felt that the article needed updating to ensure everybody has the latest information. So, we tasked our resident expert Dr. Rong Wang to revisit her popular post and freshen it up with the most update-to-date SAR-related facts and figures for the newest devices.  Take it away to Dr. Wang:

How to Understand and Find Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) of Your Mobile Device

By Rong Wang, Ph.D.

What is SAR?

Cell phones and other mobile devices emit radiofrequency (RF) waves, a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation (commonly called “cell phone radiation”). When you hold or carry a mobile device close to your head and body, you can absorb over half of the transmitted RF energy.

Cell phone radiation level varies from device to device and is measured by the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). A mobile device’s SAR rating is used to estimate the maximum rate of RF energy absorption by a user’s head and body when using the device. In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sets the exposure limit for the general public to be an SAR level of 1.6 watts per kilogram (1.6 W/kg). A mobile device’s SAR rating must not exceed 1.6 W/kg in order to receive FCC certification and be sold in the United States. SAR is measured for placement of the phone next to the head and on the body. For example, the iPhone 6 has a Body SAR of 1.14 W/kg and Head SAR of 1.08 W/kg.

How to find the SAR of your device?

There are several ways to find the SAR rating of your device.  We have listed our top choices below.

From Manufacturers
Most manufacturers provide SAR information in their product’s manuals and on their websites. For example, the RF exposure of Apple devices can be found here

Mobile Manufacturers Forum
The Mobile Manufacturers Forum provides a database of SAR values for popular devices by Apple, LG, Motorola, Nokia, Samsung and Sony Ericsson.

The FCC maintains a SAR database. To find the SAR rating of your device, you’ll need its FCC ID number. It’s usually shown somewhere on the case of your device or specified in the “About” data on the device itself. For some devices, you might have to remove its battery pack to find the number. Once you have the number, you can go to the FCC website and follow the instructions.

Other Sources
CNET maintains a list of the 20 cell phones with the highest SAR.

Is my cell phone safe?

While cell phones bring enormous convenience to our lives, the possible health consequences of exposure to cell phone radiation have aroused considerable public attention and scientific debate. The results of thousands of scientific studies are mixed and contradictory. The reported health effects include cancer, impaired brain and nervous functions, sperm damages, behavioral problems in children, to list a few. In May 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified cell phone radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.  Read more in our blog to learn about cell phone radiation studies.

Just because your device’s SAR rating is below the regulatory threshold doesn’t necessarily mean it is safe. As a matter of fact, cell phones were introduced to the market without any safety testing on humans in the first place. Although the FCC enforces SAR limits on exposure, the standards have not been updated since 1996, and were based on a couple of animal behavioral studies in the 1970s. As of today, cell phones have been in widespread use for more than 15 years, and there is still extremely limited research data on its long-term health effects and the effects on children.

Furthermore, you may not be aware that the current FCC guidelines allow a device to be tested up to 25 mm away from the user’s body. Distance is a key factor in determining the amount of exposure from a device – the intensity of radiation increases rapidly as you get closer to the device. As a result, when you carry your device directly against your body, you may be exposed to radiation levels that exceed the device’s SAR rating and even the FCC exposure limit. For instance, if you place an iPhone 5 in contact with your body, your body exposure may exceed the FCC’s limit by more than 4 times. That’s why all cell phone manufactures include warnings in their user’s manuals to keep the cell phone a certain distance away from your body for safety concern. For example, you can find RF exposure information for Apple devices here. Apple even includes a proximity sensor in its iPhone 5S, 6, 6Plus and iPads to detect the presence of a user’s body and subsequently reduce the device’s transmitted signal in order to comply with the FCC’s RF exposure limit.

In March, 2013, the FCC commenced a formal Inquiry to determine whether there is a need for reassessment of the Commission radiofrequency (RF) exposure limits and policies.

How does a Pong Case affect SAR?

The Pong radiation redirection case offers a science-based solution to reduce the SAR of your device and therefore your RF exposure. Pong does not assert that cell phones are “unsafe” but believes that less exposure is better than more before we have a definitive answer. Pong’s built-in antenna technology reshapes the electromagnetic field pattern of your device’s transmitted signal to direct RF energy away from you while optimizing your device’s outbound signal. Specifically, micro-thin, gold-plated antennas, precisely engineered in size, shape and location, are imbedded in each Pong Case to achieve optimum coupling with the mobile device’s own antennas and maximum protection to you. Pong is the only technology proven in FCC-certified laboratories to reduce RF exposure. Pong’s claims were further verified by the Wired Magazine.

How Do Cell Phones Work?

With worldwide mobile subscriptions estimated to be around 7 billion in 2014, cell phones have become a universal and indispensable tool for modern life. With a cell phone, you can talk to anybody on the planet from almost anywhere. But do you really know how your cell phone works?

In the most basic form, a cell phone is essentially a two-way radio, consisting of a radio transmitter and a radio receiver. When you chat with your friend on your cell phone, your phone converts your voice into an electrical signal, which is then transmitted via radio waves to the nearest cell tower. The network of cell towers then relays the radio wave to your friend’s cell phone, which converts it to an electrical signal and then back to sound again. In the basic form, a cell phone works just like a walkie-talkie.

In additional to the basic function of voice calls, most modern cell phones come with additional functions such as web surfing, taking pictures, playing games, sending text messages and playing music. More sophisticated smart phones can perform similar functions of a portable computer.

Continue reading “How Do Cell Phones Work?”

Great Article on Cellphone Radiation

Hey Pong Friends,

Check out this great article titled “Do Cellphones Cause Radiation” which appeared on and was written by Kim Komando host of The Kim Komando Show:

Do Cellphones Cause Radiation

I imagine you’re like me. You have least considered the idea that the phone you hold flat up against your ear day after day might have detrimental health effects. But then you shirk the concept and attribute it to a brief case of paranoia. After all, if cellphones did cause cancer, wouldn’t people be openly talking about it?

Continue reading “Great Article on Cellphone Radiation”

Are US Cell Phone Safety Standards Safe Enough?

Cell phones emit radiofrequency (RF) waves, a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation (commonly called “cell phone radiation”). When a consumer holds or carries a mobile device in close proximity, the user’s head and body can absorb over half of the transmitted energy.

The FCC’s inquiry into radiofrequency (RF) exposure limits and policies has generated broad response, as well as debate. Pong continues to play an active role in this process, weighing in on several topics of concern to users of cellphones and cases.

Continue reading “Are US Cell Phone Safety Standards Safe Enough?”

Is Wi-Fi Exposure Harmful?

The mobile device landscape has dramatically changed during the past ten years. As a popular wireless technology, Wi-Fi uses the radio-frequency bands of 2.4 and 5 GHz for data exchange among wireless devices. Devices that transmit Wi-Fi signals are not just commonplace, they have become an essential part of our lives.

So, it’s only natural that the biological and health effects of these devices have become the subject of many on-going scientific studies. While the research community is performing scientifically rigorous studies and carefully weighing the evidence, five Danish ninth-grade school girls have taken matters in to their own hands.

Continue reading “Is Wi-Fi Exposure Harmful?”

Wireless Radiation from Google Glass: Is There a Risk?

Google Glass ushers in a new trend in wireless devices. A wearable computer with head mounted display, Google Glass captures a lot of attention with its design, functions and life-style implication. Though it is not yet on sale, some people have raised concerns that Google Glass introduces new types of radiation exposure risks due to the way in which it is worn. This article explores the implications of on-body wireless devices on radiation exposure.

Like all wireless devices, Google Glass emits electromagnetic radiation, called non-ionizing radiation, in the radio-frequency (RF) range in operation. The prototype Google Glass has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth antennas but no cellular antenna. Although there is still no consensus on whether this type of radiation is harmful to human body, growing scientific evidence shows correlation between wireless radiation and adverse health effects, including but not limited to brain tumors, impaired brain function, sperm damage and behavioral problems in children. In May 2011, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified radio-frequency electromagnetic radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” based on increased risk of brain tumors.

Continue reading “Wireless Radiation from Google Glass: Is There a Risk?”

Indian Government’s New Regulation on Wireless Radiation & Worldwide Call for Precaution

According to a May 2013 news release in The Economic Times, India may ban import of mobile phones that don’t display their radiation emission levels in September 2013. The Directorate General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) will shortly issue a notification calling for mandatory disclosure of specific absorption rate (SAR) as a pre-condition for future handset imports.

In September 2012, Indian government issued a new mobile radiation law that lowered the exposure limit of mobile handsets from a SAR of 2.0 W/kg to 1.6 W/kg and made it mandatory for wireless device manufacturers to display the SAR values on their handsets.

To understand the rationale behind Indian government’s new regulation, let’s start by understanding what SAR is and what wireless radiation can do to us. Continue reading “Indian Government’s New Regulation on Wireless Radiation & Worldwide Call for Precaution”

A Progress of Research on Cell Phone Radiation Health Effects

On Jan. 21, 1993, the television talk-show Larry King featured a Florida man named David Reynard, who had filed a tort claim against the cell phone manufacturer NEC and the carrier GTE Mobilnet, claiming that radiation from their cell phones caused or accelerated the growth of a brain tumor in his wife Susan Elen Reynard.

“The tumor was exactly in the pattern of the antenna,” Reynard told King.

Continue reading “A Progress of Research on Cell Phone Radiation Health Effects”

Is there a Link between Cell Phone Use and Thyroid Cancer?

At Pong, we’ve been following recent scientific news with great interest. Israeli scientists have reported preliminary findings of a possible link between cell phone radiation and thyroid cancer.

Does Cell Phone Radiation Cause Thyroid Cancer?


Conducted at Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva and at Tel Aviv University, the Israeli research showed evidence for the first time of the possible connection between the rise in thyroid cancer cases to the increased exposure to radiation emitted by cell phones. Continue reading “Is there a Link between Cell Phone Use and Thyroid Cancer?”

Could cell phone radiation exposure put insurance companies at risk?

Lloyds of London is the largest insurance syndicate in the world.  It has insured some of the most esoteric risks one might imagine—including, most recently, a polar bear expedition, and in the past things as unlikely  as the taste buds of a food critic and Betty Grable’s legs.  But what if Lloyds refused to cover mobile phone manufacturers against risks to users’ health? More than a decade ago, they did. In 1999, Sarah Ryle of the London Observer (now the Guardian) reported that:

“Concern about the safety of mobile phones has prompted a leading Lloyd’s underwriter to refuse to insure phone manufacturers against the risk of damage to users’ health.”
Continue reading “Could cell phone radiation exposure put insurance companies at risk?”