Apple has notified staff that its hands are tied regarding out-of-warranty repairs for recent Apple Watch models in the wake of a US trade ban. Specifically, Apple Watches Series 6 and newer can no longer be repaired or replaced once their limited 1-year warranties expire.
This repair nightmare stems from the US International Trade Commission’s import ban on certain Apple Watches containing pulse oximetry sensors. While Apple halted sales of the Series 8, SE 2, Ultra 2, and Series 9 in compliance starting December 24th, existing owners are also feeling the burn.
Per an internal Apple memo, the company’s repair program “does not apply” to affected watches past their coverage period. So if your year-old Series 8’s screen cracks, tough luck – Apple can’t swap it out anymore due to legal wrangles over the pulse ox sensor.
This presents a huge headache for Apple Watch customers whose high-end models retail starting at $399. Coughing up hundreds of dollars to replace a bricked device that should last 3-5+ years is a raw deal. Unfortunately, Apple’s hands are tied by the far-reaching import ban.
While third-party repair shops could theoretically fix these models, Apple warns using unauthorized parts or services could “compromise the safety systems” in the Watch. Not an ideal situation by any means.
To avoid getting stuck with an expensive paperweight in 2024, Apple Watch owners must be vigilant about securing the optional AppleCare+ extended warranty. This provides up to two years of expert technical support and reduced-fee repairs.
Otherwise, those rocking a Series 6 onward seem SOL regarding Do-It-Yourself fixes or affordable mail-in replacements from Apple post-warranty. Let’s hope Apple resolves this regulatory quagmire soon so loyal customers don’t get shafted on pricey repairs. For now, handle that aluminum Edition with extreme care once coverage lapses!