Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 users in the US may soon lose access to one of the device’s key health features: the SpO2 blood oxygen sensor. This is due to a patent dispute between Apple and Masimo, a medical device company that claims Apple infringed on its pulse oximetry technology.
According to 9to5Mac, Apple will disable the pulse oximetry features of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2 devices to allow them to be sold in the US. This only affects devices in the US, as other markets are not subject to the same patent restrictions.
The decision comes after the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favor of Masimo in December 2023, and ordered Apple to stop importing and selling the infringing products in the US. However, Apple said the SpO2 features on Series 9 and Ultra 2 devices will not be disabled yet, as the US appeals court may grant a temporary suspension of the ITC ruling.
The SpO2 blood oxygen sensor is one of the main selling points of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Watch Ultra 2, as it can measure the oxygen saturation of the user’s blood, which can indicate potential health issues such as sleep apnea, asthma, or COVID-19.
Apple has not yet announced when or how it will disable the pulse oximetry features on the affected devices, but it will likely be done through a software update. Users who have already purchased the Apple Watch Series 9 or Watch Ultra 2 in the US may be eligible for a refund or exchange, depending on Apple’s policy.
Apple and Masimo have been locked in a legal battle since January 2020, when Masimo sued Apple for allegedly poaching its employees and using its patented technology without permission. Apple has denied the allegations and countersued Masimo for making false claims and interfering with its business.