IPhone Agonistes

So the new iPhone is getting in the hands of early influencers, fanboys and critics, with the New York Times dropping an early analysis today. The tl;dr version: faster, better battery, imperfect.

Part of the complaints, of course, stems back to the removal of an earbud jack, requiring the purchase of wireless Apple Airpods, or -- and this is to Apple’s credit -- using an accompanying converter. The new iPhone comes with a dongle with a Lightning connector on one side, for plugging into the iPhone, and an audio port on the other end, for plugging in an audio accessory. There’s also a pair of wired earbuds with a Lightning connector that comes with the phone.

So that’s good. But we do think it’s worth mentioning that there have been a few cautionary Cassandras, warning that having a wireless devices inside your ear and so close to your brain is not healthy.

We were finally able to track down the cautionary CNN story from last week about potential dangers of AirPod use -- it seemed to vanish from Google results about an hour after we saw it online -- which are basically radio transmitters in your ears.

As Dr. Anthony Miller, senior advisor to the  Environmental Health Trust, an activist group that studies radiation and cell phone usage, tells CNN:  "Apple themselves acknowledges in their fine print -- often hidden -- that you need to keep cell phones ... away from the ear, and most people don't do that.”

The last Apple  phone, the 6s, came with instructions that read: "To reduce exposure to RF energy ….Carry iPhone at least 5mm away from your body to ensure exposure levels remain at, or below, the as-tested levels."

How many of you do that? I know I stopped talking on my phone without earbuds after learning of that warning last year. It was told to me by a very successful tech guy who said he thinks the dangers of smart phone use are going to blow up a decade or so in the future, the same way cigarettes were once shrugged off as no big deal to your health.

And, like cigarettes and cancer, we won’t know for years.

Dr Keith Black, chairman of the neurosurgery department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, told CNN it commonly takes several decades of exposure before people experience deleterious effects.

Meanwhile, professor Joel Moskowitz at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health told a British newspaper that AirPod wearers would be “playing with fire,” because research has repeatedly shown that even low-intensity radio wave emissions will wear down the blood-brain barrier, which is essential for keeping out chemical toxins.

The CNN story also reports that  the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in May published a partial report showing the potential health effects of cell phone RF radiation. The study shows mice developed aggressive, malignant tumors very similar with tumors in humans using phones for the longest period. The full reported is expected to come in 2017.

Finally, and we have no opinion about this one way or the other, but with the release of iOS 10, it’s probably going to be time for another round of possibly paranoid speculation that Apple releases software updates that slow down older devices in order to steer consumers towards buying a new iPhone. If you do a search on the term “iPhone Slow,” it peaks every time a new iOS version drops. Take that as you will.