iPhone needs a blood pressure monitor like Galaxy S9’s

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Galaxy S9 blood pressure monitor
The Galaxy S9 has a blood pressure monitor. The next iPhone should too.
Photo: Samsung

Samsung’s new Galaxy S9 packs a heart-rate monitor that can also check blood pressure. It’s high time Apple added these features to the next iPhone.

Previously, Samsung’s phones could only gauge heart rate, which isn’t actually useful enough to justify adding the sensor. That’s changed now that the new one can also test blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for stroke, heart attack and other serious health problems.

Apple does not simply add new features to its devices just because they become available. It will not build a bathtub into a bicycle just because it can. That’s probably why it avoided putting a heart-rate monitor in its latest iPhones. That type of sensor just does not prove very useful in a smartphone.

Apple health care initiatives

However, Apple does position Apple Watch as a health-centric device. The company’s HealthKit framework brings powerful functionality to an increasing range of fitness and health  accessories. Both HealthKit and ResearchKit, Apple’s platform for medical research, point to the company’s growing interest in health care.

In this case, Samsung sprinted ahead of Apple with the new Galaxy S9. The optical sensor in the iPhone X’s chief rival goes beyond just counting heartbeats. It also reads a user’s blood pressure just by scanning a fingertip — no arm cuff needed.

Admittedly, this feature is still being tested as part of a joint program between Samsung and the University of California, San Francisco. But early reports indicate that the S9 records blood pressure readings just slightly different from what the traditional arm cuff says.

iPhone needs blood pressure monitor

Apple gets razzed whenever it adds a feature that rival phones included for years, such as the inclusion of wireless charging in the iPhone 8 and iPhone X. But CEO Tim Cook doesn’t seem to care.

An easy, at-home blood pressure monitor in every iPhone could be a lifesaver. Literally. Apple should bring this feature to its phones.