Apple Starts Selling Modified Watch 9 and Ultra 2—Here’s What’s New
Apple has now confirmed that the new Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 (review) will be available for sale starting today in the USA. These are modified versions with disabled blood oxygen (SpO2) functionality. This modification enables the company to continue selling these Apple Watches while the non-modified versions remain banned.
For starters, Apple has been embroiled in a patent dispute with Masimo Corporation for years in related to the blood oxygen or pulse oximeter sensor on Apple’s watches. Last year, the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling handed the victory to Masimo indicating that Apple infringed on the vital patents. And at the end of 2023, the ruling took effect that subsequently banned Apple from selling the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 in the States.
Apple managed to circumvent the ban temporarily after its appeal was approved by the U.S. Court of Appeals. However, the temporary lifting has ended this week, reinstating the ban. With Apple losing the second appeal to pause the import ban, it left no choice but to comply.
What’s new in Apple’s modified Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2
Now, Apple has seemingly found a way to continue selling the two Watch models despite the import ban. Based on its released statement, the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 being sold starting today in the USA don’t feature the blood oxygen. However, the blood oxygen app is still present on these watches, but users will be prompted and redirected to Apple’s support website once they open it.
Apple also confirmed that previously sold Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 won’t be affected by the change. Meaning, the blood oxygen and associated app should continue to work on these devices. The same goes for any Apple Watch with blood oxygen feature sold outside the USA. Users will be able to use the feature anytime.
There’s no word what comes next after this. But presently, Apple continues its legal battle against Masimo through another greater appeal that objects the decision of ITC. However, it was noted that this could take a year or so, possibly impacting the upcoming Watch Series 10 and Watch Ultra 3 in the process.
Are you intending to buy the Watch Series 9 or Watch Ultra 2 even without the blood oxygen feature? What are your thoughts on this Apple vs. Masimo patent dispute? We’d like to hear your answers in the comments.