These Are the Cellphones That Emit the Most and Least Radiation

Smartphones have become ubiquitous in our everyday lives, and we are rarely without them. But this constant physical contact with our devices has sparked concerns in some quarters that they might pose a health risk in the long run as a result of the radiation that they emit.

While the science on the risks of prolonged exposure to phone radiation remains inconclusive, two infographics produced by the consumer data firm Statista could help you decide which handset to choose if you are concerned about possible radiation exposure.

The charts—based on data from the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection, which has compiled a comprehensive database of new and old smartphones—show the handsets that emit the most and least radiation.

The phones are ranked by the specific absorption rate (SAR)—when calling with the phone placed to the ear—which is expressed in watts per kilogram of body weight.

The human body absorbs energy from devices that emit radio frequency electromagnetic radiation, like phones, and the dose of the absorbed energy is estimated using the SAR measure, according to the National Cancer Institute.

The smartphone that currently emits the highest level of radiation is the Mi A1 from Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi, with an SAR rating of 1.75 watts per kilogram.

In fact, 12 of the 15 handsets that emit the most radiation are produced by Chinese companies such OnePlus, Huawei and ZTE, alongside Xiaomi. Meanwhile, Apple's iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 and the Sony Xperia XZ1 Compact round out the list of phones that emit the most radiation.

The smartphone with the lowest SAR rating is the Samsung Galaxy Note 8, coming in at just 0.17 watts per kilogram. The South Korean manufacturer fares well in general with five of its phones in the top 10 places on the list of phones that emit the least radiation. Meanwhile, the Google Pixel XL, LG G7 and ZTE Axon Elite all appear in the top five.

While there are no agreed upon universal guidelines for "safe" levels of phone radiation, the Federal Communications Commission and the Food and Drug Administration, which share responsibility for regulating cell technologies, have set a limit of 1.6 watts per kilogram that companies must comply with.

Most of the health concerns around smartphone radiation are linked to its supposed potential to cause certain types of cancer in the brain and head.

Electromagnetic radiation, like the radiofrequency energy emitted by phones, can be categorized into two types: ionizing radiation (e.g., X-rays and cosmic rays) and nonionizing radiation (e.g., radio frequency). Exposure to ionizing radiation is known to increase the risk of cancer.

"However, although many studies have examined the potential health effects of nonionizing radiation from radar, microwave ovens, cellphones and other sources, there is currently no consistent evidence that nonionizing radiation increases cancer risk," according to the National Cancer Institute.

Researchers have conducted several types of studies to investigate the possibility of a relationship between cellphone use and the risk of developing certain types of cancer, with most finding no clear evidence that one exists.

But some statistically significant associations have been found for certain subgroups of people, such as the heaviest users of smartphones (although these inconsistencies may reflect drawbacks in study methodology).

In 2011, the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer appointed a working group to review all available evidence on cellphones, eventually classifying their use as "possibly carcinogenic to humans." They noted, though, that the findings could reflect chance, bias or other pitfalls in the research.

The American Cancer Society suggested that this classification meant there might be some risk associated with radio frequency energy but said that the evidence was not strong enough to support a causal link and needed to be further investigated.

Meanwhile, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the FDA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FCC all concluded that no scientific evidence had proved a causal link between cellphone use and cancer.

If you want to limit your exposure to radiation, the FDA recommends reserving the use of cell phones for shorter conversations or for times when a landline is not available. Alternatively, it suggests using a device with hands-free technology that places more distance between the phone and the head.