Here’s why France is the world’s only country where EarPods are bundled with iPhone 12

In a move bound to spark controversy, the iPhone 12 is the first iPhone without the bundled charger and EarPods, which are Apple’s standard wired Lightning headphones. That being said, customers in France will find a pair of EarPods in their iPhone 12 box, and here’s why.

Start off by reading this nice explainer by 9to5Mac’s Ben Lovejoy:

In France, it’s considered potentially harmful for the brain to absorb radio-frequency energy and phones emit more of this when they are being used for phone calls. There is considerable debate about the impact of this, but most countries err on the side of caution by setting a legal limit on the radio-frequency power output.

That’s why I’m always conducting phone calls over headphones.

iPhones use the proximity sensor to detect when the phone is being held against the head and reduce RF power to comply with the legal limits. However, France goes further, arguing that users should be encouraged to use headphones to keep the phone away from the side of their head. For this reason, it requires smartphones to be sold with headphones – or, in legaleze, ‘an accessory making it possible to limit the exposure of the head to radioelectric emissions during communications.’

So, Apple had to redesign the iPhone 12 box to fit the EarPods just for France? In a word, no. The company has actually approached selling the iPhone 12 with EarPods in France by chiming up with a creative solution that involves a box within a box.

iGeneration explains:

France is the only market in the world where Apple will provide EarPods headphones with its iPhone 12. But the manufacturer has no way of expanding the packaging of smartphones just for the pests that we are! As we announced on the evening of the keynote, the manufacturer delivers the iPhone and the headphones in two separate packages.

And there you have it, mystery solved!