Is the iPhone 12 safe for people with pacemakers?


The iPhone 12 has been a big seller since its launch in October of 2020. Rober Switzer of Scottsdale was glad to get his phone, that is until he heard about a recent study.

“I feel like this is a big issue,” said Switzer.

In January 2021, the Heart Rhythm Journal published a study that warns the iPhone 12 has a larger magnet for charging the phone than previous models. They found that when the phone was placed within six inches of a patient’s pacemaker, it could shut off.

“I have to be very careful of what I’m around and what I’m connected to,” said Switzer, who has had a pacemaker for several years.

It turns out many cell phones have the same or similar technology, not just the iPhone 12. The experts we spoke to say for that reason there has always been a rule of thumb for pacemaker recipients to keep cell phones away from their devices.

“I would say until further data is available anywhere greater than six inches – preferably a wired connection is probably the best,” said Dr. Srivathsan Komandoor (also known as Dr. Sri) a specialist in Cardiac Electrophysiology with the Mayo Clinic.

He says as technology advances, devices may need to be kept even further away, but that depends on a number of factors.

“It all depends on the…field strength of the magnet that is being used in the particular device,” said Dr. Sri.

As for Switzer, he says the study was enough of a concern for him and he wants a different phone. He reached out to Apple but was only offered an exchange for the same phone.

“I just need a telephone that I could dial 911 without falling over dead, you know,” said Switzer.

The Let Joe Know team decided to take action, reaching out to Apple. They responded saying they are working with Switzer to get him a phone with a smaller magnet.

They did not answer our questions about warning customers about the bigger magnet.

They did post information on their website after the study was published late last month saying while there are more magnets in the iPhone 12, “they’re not expected to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices than prior iPhone models.”

Dr. Sri says no matter the case, if you have a concern with your pacemaker, contact your doctor.

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