Apple shares new advice for iPhone users with implanted medical devices

People who have medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators implanted in their body should be careful to keep their iPhone 12 and MagSafe accessories at a safe distance.

UPDATE: Apple has now clarified that all iPhones, not just the latest iPhone 12 models with MagSafe, pose a risk of magnetic interference to medical devices. The article continues below.

The iPhone 12 models contain more magnets than any prior iPhone models. Embedded underneath the backplate, the MagSafe magnets are used to magnetically attach accessories, force the correct alignment and transfer power wirelessly using the MagSafe or Qi chargers.

The strong MagSafe magnets

Apple originally claimed that these magnets are “not expected to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices than prior iPhone models.” Of course, any magnets that are powerful enough can deactivate pacemakers in certain situations.

All MagSafe accessories contain magnets.

An X-ray image showing the MagSafe magnets in the iPhone 12 mini and iPhone 12 Pro Max

That being said, a recent Heart Rhythm Journal study has proved that Apple’s MagSafe technology can indeed deactivate pacemakers. As an example, the study found that a Medtronic pacemaker could be deactivated simply by holding an iPhone 12 near the device.

A change of heart

Taking note of the study, the Cupertino technology giant has updated a support document on its website to corroborate the study findings.

Though all iPhone 12 models contain more magnets than prior iPhone models, they’re not expected to pose a greater risk of magnetic interference to medical devices than prior iPhone models.

As noted by MacRumors, the company is now advising that customers keep their phone and any MagSafe accessories more than six inches away from their implanted medical device.

Medical devices such as implanted pacemakers and defibrillators might contain sensors that respond to magnets and radios when in close contact. To avoid any potential interactions with these devices, keep your iPhone and MagSafe accessories a safe distance away from your device (more than 6 inches / 15 cm apart or more than 12 inches / 30 cm apart if wirelessly charging). But consult with your physician and your device manufacturer for specific guidelines.

Apple also notes that its MagSafe and MagSafe Duo chargers contain radios, in addition to magnets. “These magnets and electromagnetic fields might interfere with medical devices.”

Image credit: iFixit