Abstract Electronic components in portable electronic devices such as mobile phones and portable media player have previously been shown to be useful tools for retrospective and accident dosimetry. In this study the properties of alumina rich inductors removed from mobile phones are investigated using thermoluminescence (TL). The typical glow curve of this component has two main peaks at 170 and 270 °C. With a suitable measurement protocol sensitivity changes of both peaks could be corrected so that the TL signal shows a linear increase in the investigated dose range from 100 mGy to 5 Gy. All inductors studied showed essentially no signal for zero dose. We investigated the fading of the TL signals and the detection limit of inductors extracted from different mobile phones.