The Apple Watch ban has been the talk of the tech world this holiday season, but the reality is only really starting to set in now that Apple has actually stopped selling its Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 devices online.
We're entering unprecedented territory as Apple faces tangible consequences from one of the lawsuits it routinely faces. In fact, it's something I've never seen in more than 10 years covering the tech industry and all things Apple (including the worst iPhone ever).
With that in mind, here's everything you really need to know about the Apple Watch ban, including where you can still buy an Apple Watch Series 9 or Ultra 2 before Christmas.
Why is the Apple Watch Being Banned?
Apple's newest smartwatches, the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, are on the receiving end of a shock US sales ban, after the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that the company's devices hyped SpO2 (oxygen saturation) sensors infringed on patents held by medical device specialist Masimo.
The ITC's order specifically banned the import of these Apple Watch devices into the US, which is a de facto sales ban as they're manufactured in China and therefore need to be imported into the US to reach consumers.
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Unlike previous patent beefs Apple has had, the iPhone and iPad maker wasn't able to get a last minute reprieve from the ITC, who rejected its motion to stay the ban. President Joe Biden has also declined to get involved, despite having the power to veto the ban himself.
When Does the Apple Watch Sales Ban Start?
Some of the key dates for the Apple Watch sales ban have already passed, as indicated by the fact that Apple has stopped selling the affected devices – the Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2 – through its online store.
The ITC rules that the last Apple Watch 9 and Ultra 2 online sales have to be completed by December 26, meaning they have to actually be in consumers hands (or on their wrists, technically) by this date. Taking into account shipping, because this is an import ban after all, that means Apple has already pulled the plug on online orders.
However, you can still buy an Apple Watch 9 or Ultra 2 smartwatch from physical Apple Stores through December 24. You have a handful of other options to buy these Apple Watches, too, as we're about to explain.
Where to Still Buy an Apple Watch 9 or Ultra 2 Online
The loophole for shoppers still looking to nab a new Apple Watch in time for Christmas is that other large US retailers have already imported their smartwatch stock into the country, meaning if you order fast you'll still receive your order before the December 26 online sales ban kicks in.
As you might expect, Amazon has you covered, and at the time of writing has the following models:
All are in stock in various sizes and colors and available for immediate dispatch, meaning you can get them before Christmas.
Another obvious place to start is Walmart, where the Apple Watch 9 and Ultra 2 are still on sale and quoting delivery times of as little as two days. You might also want to consider Best Buy, however, as when we went to buy an Apple Watch Ultra 2 for shipping to Massachusetts, free next-day delivery was offered for some variants.
Beyond that, you can still go to a physical Apple Store (or Walmart/Best Buy store, for that matter), while after the curtain falls on the Apple Watch ban on December 26, your options may be limited to choosing a new Apple Watch SE.
A final option could be buying an Apple Watch abroad, where the ban will not be in effect, but bear in mind particularly cellular models may not be compatible with US carrier configurations.