Don't break your new Apple Watch — replacement Series 9 and Ultra 2 models could lack blood oxygen features if you break yours

Apple Watch Series 9
(Image credit: Future)

Apple’s ongoing patent dispute with health company Masimo over the blood oxygen feature in the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, the company’s best Apple Watch models, has thrown up another potential wrinkle for users who already own either device. 

In mid-January, Apple was forced to disable the blood oxygen monitoring feature in both of its flagship Apple Watch models after a court denied Apple’s request to halt a ban on sales and imports of the offending models, issued by the U.S. International Trade Commission. 

Apple’s website now notes that “Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 no longer include the Blood Oxygen feature,” meaning any new models bought will be missing the vital health feature. Now, according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, the disruption caused could also extend to existing customers who break their Apple Watch models and need a replacement through AppleCare. 

Apple Watch ban to impact AppleCare customers 

When asked if replacement/new hardware issued through AppleCare would still have the blood oxygen feature, Gurman said the answer “answer is a definite maybe.” According to the insider, a recent memo issued to AppleCare representatives “says that if you need a replacement for your Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2, the model may lack the blood oxygen feature.” 

According to Gurman, customers will only find out whether they were lucky or not if they need their watch replaced, indicating it’s very much random. He recommends waiting until the patent dispute is resolved to be sure, but court proceedings mean that could take a year or more. It seems that Apple may have some existing inventory of replacement Apple Watch models for both the Series 9 and Ultra 2, as well as new inventory that has been modified to remove the blood oxygen feature. Therefore, whether or not you lose the feature due to an AppleCare swap could come down to your location, which Apple Store you use, or even the time of day you go into a store for your appointment. 

At the end of 2023, the initial ban also impacted customers of older models including the Apple Watch Series 6, Apple Watch Series 7, Apple Watch Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra, with Apple forced to halt out-of-warranty repairs and replacements on those devices too. 

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Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9

  • Just_Me_D
    I’ve not read this article and therefore I am responding to the headline.

    If true, I have a problem with it because I would expect Apple to repair only what’s broken and not remove anything features therein. My Watch Ultra 2 came with the BO feature and I expect it to still be there after getting my watch repaired by Apple if I needed to get it repaired.