People with pacemakers should keep these Apple products at a safe distance

JC Torres - Jun 27, 2021, 8:11pm CDT
People with pacemakers should keep these Apple products at a safe distance

Many consumer electronics today either contain magnets or generate electromagnetic fields. Most of us take such things for granted, but for some people, it could be a matter of life and death. Earlier this year, there was a great deal of medical concern over Apple’s new MagSafe wireless charging tech for the iPhone 12 and its effect on pacemakers and defibrillators. To set the record straight, Apple has updated its support page to list such devices and advise users to keep them at a safe distance away from such embedded medical devices.

The revival of the MagSafe brand was naturally welcome with cheer by Apple users. While it was technically just another form of wireless charging, Apple’s implementation added a few convenient features and introduced a new breed of accessories compatible with it. Unfortunately, the new MagSafe also introduced some complications that could put some peoples’ lives at risk.

A couple of medical studies have been made to determine the effects of the iPhone 12’s stronger MagSafe magnets on embedded medical devices like pacemakers and defibrillators since these life-saving devices rely on magnets for some of their operations, particularly in their maintenance. It turned out that putting an iPhone 12 close to one would put it into such a maintenance mode without warning, effectively shutting it down. Unfortunately, patients would not be able to restart such devices without assistance from professionals.

Apple has now updated its support page regarding the risk of magnetic interference with medical devices with some of its products. It contains a rather exhaustive list that includes not just the iPhone 12 and its MagSafe accessories but also the Apple Watch, AirPods, and iPads. The latter has started to contain stronger magnets to connect to Smart Keyboards and Folio covers which are also on that list.

Apple isn’t telling people with pacemakers to avoid these products, of course, and to keep them at a distance, especially when charging wirelessly via MagSafe. It also notes that it does have other products with magnets, like the iPhone 11 and older, but those have negligible effects on such medical devices.


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