With the Apple Watch sales ban back, Apple has decided to sell its latest smartwatches without blood oxygen monitoring in the U.S. The tweaked Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models went go on sale starting January 18 across the company’s online and retail stores.
The Cupertino giant is not making any hardware tweaks to the wearables. Instead, it will turn off the blood oxygen sensor feature through software.
New Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 say bye-bye to blood oxygen monitoring
The sales ban on Apple Watch stems from the long-running patent dispute between Masimo Corp and Apple. The former believes — and has convinced court after court — that the way the pulse oximeter inside the Apple Watch works infringes on its tech.
While the legal battle between the two companies has been going on for a while, it reached a tipping point in late December when a sales ban from the International Trade Commission came into effect. This forced Apple to stop selling the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2.
Apple quickly secured a temporary stay on the ban from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which granted a temporary stay until January 10. The Apple Watch maker lost a court appeal on Wednesday, leading the sales ban to again go into effect.
That doesn’t mean the company can’t sell Apple Watches — just that these can’t have a blood oximeter. And starting Thursday, the wearables are on Apple.com with the application disabled. A banner on the webpage for the products says, “Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 no longer include the blood oxygen feature.”
Existing Apple Watch units remain unaffected
“Apple’s appeal is ongoing, and we believe the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit should reverse the USITC’s decision. We strongly disagree with the USITC decision and resulting orders,” Apple spokesperson Nikki Rothberg told The Verge. To comply with the ruling and ensure limited disruption, Apple will sell the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 with blood oxygen monitoring disabled.
These units will still ship with the Blood Oxygen app. However, opening it will show the following message: “The Blood Oxygen app is no longer available. Learn more in the Health app on your iPhone.” This change does not affect existing Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 units.