How to Get a Pulse Oximeter on Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2 After Purchase

What you should know


  • An International Trade Commission (ITC) judge ruled that Apple infringed on Masimo’s patents related to the pulse oximeter in the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2, leading to a potential import ban into the U.S.
  • Apple removed the pulse oximeter feature from the Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 to comply with the ITC’s ruling, after initially receiving a temporary stay from the import ban.
  • Apple attempted to find a solution to offer the pulse oximeter without infringing on Masimo’s patents but ultimately had to sell the two timepieces without this feature.
  • The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol allowed the import of redesigned Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models without the pulse oximeter, determining that Apple had done enough to avoid infringing on Masimo’s patents.


Full Story

Ah, remember those chilly days in late December and the middle of January? Every morning, it seemed like we woke up to a fresh headline about the Apple Watch Series 9 and the Apple Watch Ultra 2. It was almost like a daily ritual.

To jog your memory a bit, there was this health tech company, Masimo. They weren’t too happy with Apple. Claimed Apple was stepping on their toes, patent-wise, with the pulse oximeter feature on those fancy watches.

So, what happened next? An International Trade Commission (ITC) judge got involved. Ruled that, yep, Apple was infringing on some patents. Ouch for Apple, right?

The ITC didn’t stop there. They issued an exclusion order. It was pretty straightforward: Apple had to either cough up some cash for a license, tweak the feature so it wasn’t stepping on Masimo’s toes, or just ditch the pulse oximeter altogether. Tough choices, huh?

Apple, perhaps a bit stubbornly, pulled the Series 9 and Ultra 2 from its U.S. stores. Both the online ones and the brick-and-mortar ones. But then, they got a temporary reprieve – a two-week stay from the import ban while they appealed. Didn’t last forever, though.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting. President Biden could’ve waved his magic Veto stamp and made the whole mess disappear. But, nope, he didn’t.

Apple, back to the drawing board, tried to figure out a workaround. But alas, no dice. They ended up selling those watches without the pulse oximeter. You know, that nifty feature that checks how much oxygen is in your blood? Pretty important for spotting stuff like hypoxia.

Speaking of the pulse oximeter, here’s a bit of tech gossip for you. MacRumors spilled the beans on how Apple managed to disable the feature. Once you pair the watch with an iPhone, poof, no more pulse oximeter. Try to use it, and you’ll get a polite but firm warning that it’s not available.

Masimo wasn’t too thrilled when they found out Apple could just turn off the feature with some code. They were even less thrilled when they discovered a loophole – a jailbroken iPhone could bring the feature back. Sneaky, right?

But here’s the kicker: the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol sided with Apple. Said Apple did enough to not step on Masimo’s patents. So, if you bought one of those watches, you might get that pulse oximeter back someday. Either when Masimo’s patents expire in August 2028 or if Apple wins their appeal.

Crazy story, huh? Just when you think you’ve seen it all, the tech world throws you another curveball.

Derrick Flynn
Derrick Flynn
With over four years of experience in tech journalism, Derrick has honed his skills and knowledge to become a vital part of the PhonesInsights team. His intuitive reviews and insightful commentary on the latest smartphones and wearable technology consistently provide our readers with valuable information.


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