Apple Starts Watch Series 9 And Ultra 2 Sales Ban And Limits Replacements – Forbes

Apple is no longer selling the Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2 online, and will stop instore sales on Sunday, December 24. It will also stop replacing out-of-warranty Watches which feature blood oxygen monitors.

This is all down to a health technology patents dispute with Masimo, a medical technology company—full details here. The International Trade Commission ruled in October that the Apple Watch’s blood oxygen feature infringes on two Masimo patents and this ruling comes into effect on December 25. Apple is taking pre-emptive action to pause sales in the U.S.

That means that Apple will stop selling two of the three current models in its stores and on apple.com—the Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2—because they include the blood oxygen feature. The sales pause also includes refurbished Series 8 Watches. You can still buy these models from other retailers, such as Amazon, Best Buy and Target, while stocks last. The ban is limited to the U.S., so sales outside the States continue as normal.

The Apple Watch SE does not have blood oxygen measuring capabilities so is still on sale. Apple Watch Nike and Apple Watch Hermes are marked as currently unavailable on apple.com. Apple is allegedly rushing to find a solution to the problem with a software fix—full details here. It’s not known when or if this might come to fruition, and a spokesperson for Masimo says a software tweak won’t cut it.

But the new details that have emerged are subtle and, frankly, annoying.

According to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, “Apple’s customer service teams were informed in a memo that the company will no longer replace out-of-warranty models going back to Apple Watch Series 6. That means if a customer has a broken screen, for instance, they won’t be able to get the issue fixed by Apple. The company will still offer help that can be done via software, such as reinstalling the operating system.”

This is a nasty sting in the tail. Since some hardware issues couldn’t be resolved with repairs, some customers paid for replacements instead. Affected customers will now be told that, “they will be contacted when hardware replacements are allowed again,” Gurman says.

Until now, it had seemed that anyone who owned a Series 6, Series 7, Series 8 or Ultra would be blithely unaffected by the ban. Now, only those whose Apple Watches are still under warranty can rest easy. That means Series 8 and Ultra purchases made within the last 12 months, plus all Series 9 and Ultra 2 models, as these first went on sale on September 22 this year. If your Watch is still under warranty, the replacement ban “aren’t affected by the replacement prohibition,” according to Bloomberg.

In other words, only out-of-warranty models of Series 6, Series 7, Series 8 and Ultra can no longer be repaired or replaced.

But there are still concerns, even if you’re buying the Watch in-store today, for instance. Supposing you’re gifting the Watch to someone and they would rather have a different color. Bad luck, it seems. Gurman explains, “After Dec. 25, Apple also won’t be able to exchange a watch purchased before the ban, say for a different color or size, during the typical return period. Retail staff was told a product swap won’t be allowed, but Apple will replace accessories like bands. Watches can still be returned for a refund.”

Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 are stunningly good products, way ahead of the smartwatch competition. But right now, these restrictions make them tricky to recommend, at least in the U.S.

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