It looks like Apple wasn’t extra cautious when it warned in the iPhone 12’s new MagSafe charging system could affect not only magnetic stripe cards and RFID tags, but also “interfere with medical devices” like pacemakers and defibrillators. Why?
All of those could affect the operation of “medical devices,” i.e. pacemakers, and a cardiologist from the Henry Ford Heart and Vascular Institute put Apple’s warning labels to the test. Dr Singh checked how the MagSafe components are affecting the work of implantable defibrillators, and by and large found that the defibrillator safety switch detected the iPhone 12’s magnets, and shut its functions down indeed:
When we brought the iPhone 12 close to the patient’s chest the defibrillator was deactivated. We saw on the external defibrillator programmer that the functions of the device were suspended and remained suspended. When we took the phone away from the patient’s chest, the defibrillator immediately returned to its normal function.
We were all stunned. We had assumed that the magnet would be too weak in a phone to trip the defibrillator’s magnetic switch. We believe our findings have profound implications on a large scale for the people who live daily with these devices, who without thinking, will place their phone in their shirt pocket or upper pocket or their coat – not knowing that it can cause their defibrillator or pacemaker to function in a way that could potentially be lethal.
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.