Not only has Apple halted online sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra Series 2 (with in-store sales to follow), but the company’s ongoing patent rift with medical device maker Masimo has another ripple effect: out-of-warranty hardware repairs for several Apple Watch models are now unavailable to customers. That’s according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, who reports that Apple has informed customer service employees that out-of-warranty hardware repairs and whole unit replacements for the Apple Watch Series 6 onward (with the exception of the SE) will be unavailable for the duration of the ban imposed by the US International Trade Commission.
If you own one of the models included in the ban and your device is out of warranty, well, you should be extra careful with Apple’s smartwatch starting right now. Products under warranty (or the extended AppleCare Plus program) aren’t affected by this situation. Customers will be notified when hardware replacements are permitted, according to Gurman’s report.
This gives Apple yet another critical reason to resolve the patent dispute with Masimo. The Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 are currently unavailable from Apple’s online store during the final stretch of holiday shopping, though both models can still be purchased in Apple’s physical stores, which will pull the devices after December 24th. Third-party retailers can continue selling them after that, but supply is likely to dwindle since Apple is barred from importing more Apple Watch devices until it resolves the patent dispute.
The patent dispute revolves around the SpO2 sensor built into the Apple Watch Series 6, 7, 8, 9, Ultra, and Ultra 2. Apple is said to be working on a software update that could avoid further infringement of Masimo’s patents, though the medical device maker believes the issue fundamentally relates to hardware and will require deeper changes.