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Apple Watch Series 9 is missing a key feature from S8, but it’s not really a big deal

Published Mar 21st, 2024 7:43AM EDT
Apple Watch Series 9 Health Sensors
Image: Christian de Looper for BGR

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If you have an Apple Watch Series 8, Apple Watch Ultra, or any other model with a blood oxygen sensor, I have a question for you: when was the last time you actually used the pulse oximetry feature? If you’re being honest with yourself, you probably don’t know the answer.

When Apple was forced by a court to disable the blood oxygen sensor on all Apple Watch Series 9 and Apple Watch Ultra 2 models following a patent dispute, the media made a pretty big deal out of it. In reality, however, it’s not a big deal at all. For most people, pulse oximetry monitoring is not something we ever think about. It’s also not something we’ll miss if we decide to get a new Apple Watch Series 9 while it’s on sale at one of the lowest prices of the year.

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The Apple Watch Series 9 is the model that I personally use. To be frank, I have tested dozens of other smartwatch models, and I wouldn’t consider using any of them over the Series 9. With or without a blood oxygen sensor, it’s easily the best smartwatch for most Apple users.

The only other model that piques my interest is the Apple Watch Ultra 2, which is a fantastic upgrade from the Series 9. But it’s also massive, and it’s way too big for my wrist. If you’re interested in the Apple Watch Ultra 2, however, you should know that it’s currently on sale for $749 at Best Buy. That’s a great price, and it’s likely the best deal you’ll see until this summer.

As for the Series 9 model, it appeals to a much wider range of users. It also comes in two sizes that look great on just about any wrist size. You can read BGR’s in-depth Apple Watch Series 9 review to learn all about what makes this model so impressive.

One of my favorite features is the enhanced sleep tracking that’s bolstered by Apple’s new temperature sensor. I have issues falling asleep and staying asleep, so it’s great to get some insights into which sleep aids work best when I try new ones. The good news is that Apple’s sleep tracking still works great for me even without pulse oximetry.

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There are plenty of other great features on the Apple Watch Series 9, of course. It’s not Apple’s biggest update ever, but it definitely refines much of what made the Series 7 and Series 8 models so impressive.

Just like I stated earlier, prices start at just $329 right now, and a few different colorways are on sale. Also, the 45mm GPS version is on sale starting at $359 instead of $429.

If you want cellular connectivity in addition to GPS, prices start at $429 instead of $499 for the 41mm Cellular + GPS Apple Watch Series 9.

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Now, some people do have an actual need for a working blood oxygen sensor. If you fall into that category, the Series 9 is not for you. You can consider getting an Apple Watch Series 8 model instead. Or, if you want a larger model with pulse ox, you can get a renewed Apple Watch Ultra starting at just $499.99, depending on which band you want.

Be sure to visit our extensive guide for all the best Apple Watch deals on other models, including previous-generation Apple Watches that are on sale with deep discounts.

Maren Estrada Deals Editor

Maren Estrada has been the Editor of BGR Deals since it launched in 2013. She has more than 20 years of experience testing more than 1,500 products, and reviewing a wide range of consumer electronics including mobile devices, smart home products, computers, and home appliances.

Previously, she was a leading consultant specializing in copywriting, product development, and new product launches.