Apple Watch is about to be banned: How to get one before this week’s deadline

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Apple Watch Ultra 2

Apple


If you’re in the market for a last-minute Apple Watch to give as a gift, or been considering one for yourself, now’s the time to lock one in. Right now. An Apple Watch ban is coming, and you don’t want to miss out on the year’s newest tech because of it. 

Apple will be ending in-store pickup of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 effective Thursday, December 21. Then, on Sunday, December 24, sales of both watches will be ending outright, so if you didn’t act before then, you’ll be out of luck.  You’ll no longer be able to order an Apple Watch Series 9 or Apple Watch Ultra 2 through retailers like the Apple Store, Target, Walmart, or anywhere that sells the popular smartwatches.

Read on to learn where to buy an Apple Watch while you still can, plus information about why this popular smartwatch is facing a ban on Dec. 25, 2023.


Get the Apple Watch while you still can: Quick links

Don’t want to delay on buying an Apple Watch? We don’t blame you. Here are some quick links that’ll take you to our coverage of the best Apple Watch deals right now, ahead of the ban.


Why is Apple Watch being banned?

Apple is removing both the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models from store shelves in the United States due to an October ruling by the International Trade Commission (ITC). This decision is the outcome of a patent dispute between Apple and the medical technology company Masimo concerning the blood oxygen sensor technology used in both Apple Watch models.

Masimo accused Apple of infringing on five different patents in 103 instances. The ITC found that Apple infringed on two of these patents, and its offenses specifically related to the pulse oximeter feature in the Apple Watch.

The ITC’s ruling, announced in October and stemming from a judge’s decision in January, initially led to a 60-day Presidential Review Period. During this period, President Biden could have vetoed the ruling, but this has not yet happened. With the review period expiring on December 25, Apple made the decision to preemptively comply with the ITC’s decision, even though it has not been finalized. 

Presidential vetoes of ITC decisions aren’t usually very common. President Obama vetoed an ITC ban on the iPhone in 2013 during Apple’s legal dispute with Samsung. 


Where to buy affected Apple Watch models

The only two Apple Watch models currently affected by Apple’s decision to preemptively remove the models from store shelves are the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9. Below, we’ve found the retailers offering the lowest price on each model, as well as other retailers to shop should these go out of stock. 

Apple Watch Series 9: $329 and up (18% off)

Apple Watch Series 9

Amazon


The Apple Watch Series 9 is the latest addition to the Apple Watch lineup, excluding the recently launched Apple Watch Ultra 2. It’s subject to ban on Dec. 25, 2023.

This smartwatch offers a wide range of features to support virtually every aspect of your daily life. Packed with advanced functionalities such as heart monitoring, crash detection, and many more, it comes in a sleek and compact design that makes it a worthwhile upgrade from the previous model. 

Moreover, it boasts impressive health-tracking capabilities, including electrical heart sensors for ECG, blood oxygen sensing, and a body temperature sensor. Women can also utilize the smartwatch to track their menstrual cycles. 

It seamlessly integrates with your new iPhone, enabling you to make calls, send texts, access your favorite apps, and much more.

Right now, you can get the Apple Watch Series 9 starting at $329 for the 41mm size at Walmart and Amazon.

The larger 45mm Apple Watch 9 is available starting at $359 at Amazon and Walmart. It’s a good choice for those with larger wrists.


Apple Watch Ultra 2: $730 (8% off)

apple-watch-ultra-2.jpg

Apple


The Apple Watch Ultra 2 is a standout option for power users or anyone who loves to stay active. It features a more robust set of features that can be crucial in emergency situations, especially if you’re someone who spends a lot of time outdoors, hiking, camping or hanging out away from home. 

In addition to its GPS capabilities and dual speakers, the Ultra 2 introduces several new features, including an action button, a side button and a trio of microphones. One standout addition is the 86-decibel siren, which can be heard from a distance of up to 600 feet.

It’s rugged, durable and reliable, crafted with a titanium casing. The Ultra 2 boasts an impressive battery life of up to 36 hours, which can be extended to 72 hours in low power mode.

One notable improvement over the previous Apple Watch Ultra model is the brighter, always-on retina display with a Night Mode, which enhances visibility in dim conditions. It’s worth mentioning that the watch is quite large (49 mm), so if you prefer a more compact screen on your wrist, this may not be the best choice for you.

Currently, you can get the Apple Watch Ultra 2 for its lowest price at Amazon thanks to an on-page coupon. It’s $730, down from its normal price of $750. Be sure to clip the coupon to save an additional $20 on your purchase.


What models does the Apple Watch ban affect?

The ITC’s ruling specifically targets the sales of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 because both of those models feature blood oxygen monitoring capabilities. The Apple Watch SE, while similar, does not have this feature and will continue to be sold.

While the ban prohibits Apple from selling the affected models, they will still be available for purchase from outlets like Amazon and Best Buy, at least until December 25. After this date, the ban will also prevent Apple from selling these models to resellers, which could further impact their availability at other retail outlets.

The ITC ruling will not affect Apple Watches with the blood oxygen sensor that have already been sold. These models, including those from Series 6 onwards that feature the technology, will continue to function as normal. The ban only affects new sales of the affected models. Additionally, the ITC order allows for service, repair or warranty claims for units sold before December 25 so if something is amiss with your watch, you can still have it fixed.


Where to buy unaffected Apple Watch models

Apple isn’t pulling every single Apple Watch from store shelves. None of the Apple Watch models outside of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 will be unavailable, and they will be restocked should they sell out. If you want to buy one of these watches, some models are currently on sale and may be purchased as normal without an “expiration date” to be concerned with. So if you need to shop all the way through Christmas Eve or even on Christmas Day online for the right gift, you have plenty of time to get one of these options. 

Apple Watch Series 8: $249 (38% off)

Apple Watch Series 7 (41mm)

Apple


The Apple Watch Series 8 may be one step below the Apple Watch Series 9, but it’s still worth wearing if you don’t want to fork over the extra cash. And it may be the best option going forward if the Apple Watch ban ends up lasting a lengthy period of time. 

Of course, the Apple Watch 8 offers an array of features in a sleek, easy-to-wear design, and it works just as well for a little less cash. This model includes health-monitoring tools such as an optical heart sensor, an ECG-capable electrical heart sensor, a blood oxygen sensor and a newly added body temperature sensor. 

Additionally, it has an innovative crash detection function that recognizes when the user is involved in a major car accident and promptly notifies emergency responders.

You can get the Apple Watch Series 8 for at Walmart for just $249, reduced from $399.


Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen): $229 (18% off)

Amazon


The Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen) may be the budget-priced alternative to the core Apple Watch family, but it’s certainly no slouch by any means.

It offers many of the same features you can expect from the numbered Apple Watch models, like essential fitness tracking, crash detection, enhanced workout metrics and more. As noted previously, blood oxygen measuring is not included.

The Apple Watch SE connects to your phone so you can answer and send texts, make calls and stream your favorite music straight from your wrist. It boasts 50m of water resistance. 

Right now, you can find the Apple Watch SE (2nd Gen) at Walmart for $229.


How long will the Apple Watch ban last?

The future of the Apple Watch Ultra 2 and Apple Watch Series 9 is’t clear right now. There’s currently no specific timeline for how long these models will be unavailable, which is why it’s imperative to act quickly if you want one. The situation could potentially change if President Biden decides to veto the ITC’s exclusion order, but that has not happened thus far.

Apple announced its intention to appeal the ITC’s decision with the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit as of December 26. But filing an appeal will not suspend the ban on the sales and imports of the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 models.

As of now, Apple has not disclosed any specific plans for how it will move forward. While it has announced that that more information will be provided after the Presidential Review Period ends, that still leaves customers in the dark. The best, short answer is “we don’t know” at this point, though that could change very quickly. 

Will I still be able to use my Apple Watch Ultra 2 or Apple Watch Series 9?

Yes, you will still be able to use your Apple Watch Ultra 2 or Apple Watch Series 9 after the ban takes effect. The International Trade Commission’s (ITC) ruling and the subsequent actions by Apple relate only to the sales and import of new units of these specific Apple Watch models. The ruling does not affect Apple Watches that have already been sold and are in use by consumers.

These models, including those with the pulse oximeter feature that is at the center of the patent dispute, will continue to function as normal. The ITC’s decision only halts new sales and imports of the affected models due to the patent infringement issue.

So, if you already own an Apple Watch Ultra 2 or Series 9, you can continue to use it without any restrictions or changes in functionality. The same goes for the new watches you may purchase ahead of the ban. 

Are there any other Apple Watch models that could be affected in the future?

Currently, there’s no indication that other Apple Watch models, aside from the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, are affected by the legal situation surrounding the International Trade Commission’s (ITC) ruling. The ruling specifically deals with the usage of Masimo’s blood oxygen sensor technology.



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