Apple Watch Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel (All Models)

No one would have anticipated that its Apple watches will become arguably the best smartwatches ever. But, like their phones and other gadgets, Apple has made sure their watches have all the features you would in a smartwatch.

An Apple watch comes in different models, variants, styles, and sizes, and most commonly in Aluminum and Stainless-steel frames. Ceramic and titanium are also available in some series, but they are not talked about as much.

When it comes to choosing an Apple Watch, besides other things, one of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make is whether to choose aluminum or stainless steel. Both materials have their unique benefits and drawbacks, so it can be tough to decide which one is right for you.

In this article, we’ll compare aluminum and stainless steel Apple Watches in terms of price, durability, style, and other factors. By the end of this article, you should have a good idea of which material is best for you.

 

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Apple Series 7 (45mm) Aluminum vs. Stainless steel

Apple Watch 7 is the latest drop from Apple. It was released on 15th October 2021, and it stole the show completely. The company did alter some of the features related to display, size, and colors, and made it a whole package for every iOS user out there.

For the very first time, Apple went on changing the case sizing after the release of series 4, and it came up in two sizes; 41mm and 45mm. The screen is 20% larger than series 6, and almost 50% larger than series 3, which is quite astonishing. The borders on the screen are also 40% thinner, allowing the user to experience an infinity display.

Differences between Apple Series 7 Aluminum vs Stainless-steel

Apple Watch Series 7 (45mm) Aluminum (GPS) Stainless Steel (GPS + Cellular)
     
Colors Starlight, Midnight, Blue, Green, Red Graphite, Gold, Silver
Sizes 41mm & 45mm 41mm & 45mm
Sim No Yes
Build Glass front, ceramic/sapphire crystal back, aluminum frame Glass front, ceramic/sapphire crystal back, stainless steel frame
Weight (44mm) 38.5g 51.5g
Display Retina LTPO OLED, 1000 nits (peak) Retina LTPO OLED, 1000 nits (peak)
Display Size 1.9-inches 1.9-inches
Resolution 484 x 396 pixels (~326 ppi density) 484 x 396 pixels (~326 ppi density)
Protection Ion-X strengthened glass Sapphire crystal glass
Storage 32GBGB 32GB
Sensors Heart rate (3rd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass.

Natural language commands and dictation (talking mode)
Ultra-Wideband (UWB) support

Heart rate (2nd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass.

Natural language commands and dictation (talking mode)
Ultra-Wideband (UWB) support

WLAN/Bluetooth Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band & 5.0, A2DP, LE Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band & 5.0, A2DP, LE
GPS/NFC Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS. GALILEO, QZSS
Connectivity GPS, GPS + Cellular Only GPS + Cellular
Water-resistance 50m 50m
Battery life Li-Ion 309 mAh (1.19 Wh), non-removable & 18 hours of usage Li-Ion 309 mAh (1.19 Wh), non-removable & 18 hours of usage

 

Color and display:

Well, the display and case size is not the only thing, Apple went on changing. Apple Watch 7 aluminum comes in 5 different new colors including Blue, Green, Red, Starlight, and Midnight. While the Apple watch 7 stainless-steel variant comes in 3 colors which are Graphite, Gold, and Silver.

Just like the predecessor of Watch 7, the aluminum style has the ceramic/sapphire crystal back with the protection of ion-x strengthened glass. On the other hand, stainless steel has the protection of sapphire crystal glass. In terms of protection, Apple has already claimed that this watch has the most crack-resistant glass of all the Apple Watches released yet.

Weight and pricing:

Apple Watch 7 aluminum weights 38.5g, while the stainless-steel model weighs around 51.5g, making it a heavier model. Not only the weight, but it beats the aluminum variant in price as well, costing almost double the base model.

Apple Series 6 (44mm) Aluminum vs. Stainless steel

Apple Watch 6 was released in Sep 2020 and was an instant hit anyway. It came in two sizes, 40 and 44m, while the GPS and GPS + Cellular are the two main styles.

The resolution of 44mm is top-notch, and with its clear display, you cannot look away from it. Apple went on increasing the storage after series 4 anyway, so it has decent storage of 32GB.

Differences between Apple Series 6 Aluminum vs. Stainless-steel

Features/Specs Apple Watch 6 GPS Apple Watch 6 Cellular
Colors Silver, Gold, Space Gray, Blue, Red Silver, Gold, Space Gray, Blue, Red
Sizes 40mm & 44mm 40mm & 44mm
SIM No eSIM
Connectivity GPS only GPS + Cellular
Standalone Smartwatch No Yes
Weight 36.5g 36.5g
Water-resistant 50m 50m
Display Type Retina LTPO OLED, 1000 nits (peak) Retina LTPO OLED, 1000 nits (peak)
Display Size 1.78-inches 1.78-inches
Resolution 448 x 368 pixels (~326 PPI density) 448 x 368 pixels (~326 PPI density)
Protection type Ion-X strengthened glass Ion-X strengthened glass
OS Watch OS 7.0, upgradable to 7.6 Watch OS 7.0, upgradable to 7.6
Chipset Apple S6 Apple S6
WLAN/Bluetooth Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band & 5.0, A2DP, LE Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band & 5.0, A2DP, LE
ECG certified Yes Yes
Sensors Heart rate (3rd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass Heart rate (3rd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass
Storage/RAM 32GB/1GB 32GB/1GB
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS
Battery Li-Ion 303.8 mAh (1.17 Wh), non-removable, Wireless charging & 18 hours of usage Li-Ion 303.8 mAh (1.17 Wh), non-removable, Wireless charging & 18 hours of usage

Color and display:

Unlike the previous generation of Apple Smartwatches, this Series came with new colors and was liked by the audience. The Apple Watch Series 6 Aluminum variant came in 5 colors Space Gray, Silver, Gold, Blue, and Red, while the stainless steel has Silver, Graphite, and Gold.

The aluminum watch has a sapphire crystal back with an aluminum frame and Ion-x strengthened glass, which is less likely to survive the severe cracks and might shatter if been under pressure. While the stainless-steel watch has a sapphire crystal glass display, which is a hard and rigid material and doesn’t crack easily.

Weight:

Aluminum Watch weighs 36.5g, while the stainless steel weighs around 47.1g.

Price:

When it comes to pricing, stainless steel costs way more than the Aluminum watch, and if you don’t want to use the cellular version, you have to go with the Aluminum ones because it has the GPS only option, while the latter doesn’t have any.

 

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Apple Series 5 (40mm) Aluminum vs. Stainless steel

This is where Apple showed everyone who’s the boss, as this model came with the most awaited ECG measuring feature, which was missing in the last series, and it made a huge difference. Although all these health monitoring sensors shouldn’t be used for medical purposes, just for an indication.

But it was really important, as some cheap smartwatches started to include this feature as well, so Apple covered it too.

This generation came in Sep 2019, in two sizes, 40 and 44mm, along with two styles; GPS and GPS + Cellular.

Differences between Apple Series 5 Aluminum vs. Stainless steel

Features/Specs Apple Watch 5 GPS Apple Watch 5 Cellular
Colors Silver, Gold, Space Gray Silver, Gold, Space Gray
Sizes 40mm & 44mm 40mm & 44mm
SIM No eSIM
Connectivity GPS only GPS + Cellular
Standalone Smartwatch No Yes
Weight 36.7g 36.7g
Water-resistant 50m 50m
Display Type Retina LTPO OLED, 1000 nits (peak) Retina LTPO OLED, 1000 nits (peak)
Display Size 1.78-inches 1.78-inches
Resolution 448 x 368 pixels (~326 PPI density) 448 x 368 pixels (~326 PPI density)
Protection type Ion-X strengthened glass Ion-X strengthened glass
OS Watch OS 6.0, upgradable to 7.6 Watch OS 6.0, upgradable to 7.6
Chipset Apple S5 Apple S5
WLAN/Bluetooth Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band & 5.0, A2DP, LE Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, dual-band & 5.0, A2DP, LE
ECG certified Yes Yes
Sensors Heart rate (2nd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass Heart rate (3rd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass
Storage/RAM 32GB/1GB 32GB/1GB
GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS
Battery Li-Po 296 mAh (1.13 Wh), non-removable, Wireless charging & 18 hours of usage Li-Po 296 mAh (1.13 Wh), non-removable, Wireless charging & 18 hours of usage

Color and display:

Apple Watch Series 4 Aluminum came in three colors Silver, Gold, and Space Gray, while the Stainless-steel Watch came in Space Black, Silver, and Gold.

The overall display didn’t change a bit from the Series 4 and is the same in both these styles. However, the Aluminum watch has a sapphire crystal back with Ion-x strengthened glass, while the stainless steel has a Sapphire crystal display with a stainless-steel back.

Weight:

Both the watches have a difference of almost 10g, as the Aluminum Watch weighs around 30g, while the Stainless-steel watch weighs 39.8g.

Price:

If your usage requires you to have a standalone smartwatch per se, and you have a thing for considerable heavy watches as well, then you should go with the stainless-steel watch, as you will be getting both in exchange for being pricey.

But if you don’t want both of these things, you should go with the Aluminum watch, which is not that expensive.

 

Apple Watch Series 4 (40mm) Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel

Released in Sep 2018, and just like its predecessor, people loved it. After the Series 3 itself, Apple stick with the same design, which means there weren’t any major changes in the appearance of watches.

Apart from changing the resolution with a better display, increasing the RAM, and upgrading some of the sensors, the rest of it is almost the same.

Apple Watch Series 4 came in two sizes, 40 and 44mm, which also changed since Series 3 came in 38 and 42mm. Along with this, it also had two styles; GPS or GPS + Cellular.

Differences between Apple Watch Series 4 Aluminum vs. stainless steel

Apple Watch 4 (40mm) Aluminum (GPS) Stainless Steel (GPS + Cellular)
Colors Silver, Gold, Space Gray Space Black, Silver, Gold
Sizes 40mm & 44mm 40mm & 44mm
Sim eSIM eSIM
Build Glass front, ceramic/sapphire crystal back, aluminum frame Glass front (Sapphire crystal), ceramic/sapphire crystal back, stainless steel frame
Weight (40mm) 30g 40g
Display Retina LTPO OLED, 1000 nits (peak) Retina LTPO OLED, 1000 nits (peak)
Display Size 1.57-inches 1.57-inches
Resolution 394 x 324 pixels (~326 PPI density) 394 x 324 pixels (~326 PPI density)
Protection Ion-X strengthened glass Sapphire crystal glass
RAM/Storage 1GB RAM/16GB 1GB RAM/16GB
Sensors Heart rate (2nd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro Heart rate (2nd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro
WLAN/Bluetooth Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n & 5.0, A2DP, LE Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n & 5.0, A2DP, LE
GPS/NFC Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, QZSS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS. GALILEO, QZSS
Connectivity GPS, GPS + Cellular Only GPS + Cellular
Water-resistance 50m 50m
Battery life Li-Ion 225 mAh (0.86 Wh), non-removable& 18 hours of usage Li-Ion 225 mAh (0.86 Wh), non-removable& 18 hours of usage

Color and display:

Just like Series 3, the main difference still relies on 2,3 things. Aluminum Watch offers Silver, gold, and Space Gray and has a sapphire crystal back with an aluminum frame.

On the other hand, the stainless steel watch comes in Space Black, Silver, and Gold and has a stainless steel frame, and has a sapphire crystal glass display, which is hard to break compared to Ion-x strengthened glass Aluminum watch.

Weight:

Apple Watch Series 4 aluminum weighs around 30g, while the stainless-steel watch weighs 40g, so there’s a difference of 10g here.

Price:

Stainless steel costs considerably more than Aluminum, so if you’re low on cash and don’t want to spend extra bucks on cellular networks, the Aluminum watch would be better for you.

 

Read in detail: Apple Watch Series 4 GPS vs Cellular

 

Apple Watch Series 3 (38mm) Aluminum vs. Stainless steel

Apple introduced this smartwatch in Sep 2017, and it was one of the best smartwatches at that time for two reasons.

Firstly, this was one of the defining and revolutionary watches that set the bar so high, which shocked the smartwatch world. Secondly, for an iPhone user, this was the best accessory ever.

It came in two sizes; 38mm, and 42mm, and two styles; GPS, GPS + Cellular. This was an instant hit, which made Apple known in this genre of smart-tech.

Now, along with different styles, and sizes, Apple also introduced this watch in two casings; Aluminum and stainless steel. But, are there any differences? Let’s find out.

Differences between Apple Watch Series 3 Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel

Apple Watch 3 (38mm) Aluminum (GPS) Stainless Steel (GPS + Cellular)
Colors Silver, Gold, Space Gray Space Black, Silver
Sizes 38mm & 42mm 38mm & 42mm
Sim eSIM eSIM
Build Aluminum/Composite back Glass front (Sapphire crystal), ceramic/sapphire crystal back, stainless steel frame
Weight (38mm) 26.7g 42.4 g
Display Type Retina OLED, 1000 nits (peak) Retina OLED, 1000 nits (peak)
Display Size 1.5-inches 1.5-inches
Resolution 340 x 272 pixels (~290 PPI density) 340 x 272 pixels (~290 PPI density)
Protection Ion-X strengthened glass Sapphire crystal glass
RAM/Storage 768MB RAM/16GB 768MB RAM/16GB
Sensors Heart rate, Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro Heart rate, Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro
WLAN/Bluetooth Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n & 4.2, A2DP, LE Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n & 4.2, A2DP, LE
GPS/NFC Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS
Connectivity GPS, GPS + Cellular Only GPS + Cellular
Water-resistance 50m 50m
Battery life Non-removable Li-Ion 279 mAh battery (1.07 Wh) & 18 hours of usage Non-removable Li-Ion 279 mAh battery (1.07 Wh) & 18 hours of usage

Color and display:

The aluminum watch comes in silver, gold, and space gray, while the stainless steel offers only space black and silver, which isn’t a big difference per se; however, when it comes to displaying the screen, that is where it gets real.

The aluminum watch offers an Ion-x glass display, which is softer than the Sapphire crystal display in Stainless steel, which is quite rigid and almost unbreakable. So, for safety reasons, Stainless steel does have the edge here.

Weight:

The 38mm Aluminum model weighs 26.7g, while the same model in stainless steel weighs around 42.4g, which is a difference of almost 16g.

Price:

The stainless steel watch costs almost double compared to the aluminum model because the former comes in GPS + Cellular version only, hence the price difference. Along with this, you will have to pay extra bucks for the carrier network, which can be avoided in the aluminum model, as it gives you the option of choosing GPS or GPS + Cellular.

Apart from this, there’s no difference in features, such as sleep monitoring, heart rate tracking, sport modes, activity monitoring, Water-resistance, etc.

Apple watch aluminum vs stainless steel – Durability

When it comes to durability, stainless steel has a clear edge over aluminum, making it more durable than aluminum. Apple Watch aluminum is more of soft material as compared to stained steel which is very hard, which means it’s more likely to get scratched. Although with its matte finishing the tiny scratches are not that visible.

The stainless-steel Apple watch has the screen protection of sapphire glass which is very difficult to break and is more scratch-resistant than the ion-x strengthened glass of aluminum. But on the other hand, a stainless-steel Apple watch weighs more than an aluminum Apple Watch, which the point of impact can be more prone to breaking.

The Aluminum Apple watch does not rust or corrode normally, but if the corrosion happens, the extra layer of oxide will prevent it from happening, which might not be the case with a stainless steel Apple watch.

All in all, Aluminum Apple Watch is more likely is more impact-resistant due to the softness of the material, and it’s quite light as well. The Stainless-steel Apple watch, on the other hand, is heavy and made up of hard material (Sapphire) which is more scratch-resistant than aluminum. So, the stainless-steel Apple watch wins the battle of durability here

 

Aluminum vs. Stainless-steel: Which Apple Watch should you go for?

Both Watches have their plus points, so there’s no literal winner here. The bottom line is here is this:

Aluminum Watch offers variety in colors, good display, and protection if you’re a normal user and don’t want something fancier. However, the Stainless-steel has a clear edge in protection because the glass and frame it contains make it immune to big scratches and cracks.

It weighs considerably less than stainless steel, which is a good thing for athletes and runners, as it won’t be weighing your wrist down as well.

On top of this, it costs less than stainless steel, and you have the option to choose between GPS or GPS + Cellular style, which is the only plus point this watch has, in my opinion.

A stainless-steel watch is rigid and hard, which means you don’t have to worry about it being cracked or having scratches on it, as it is scratch-resistant as well. This watch is specifically for those who like fancy and heavy watches, as it weighs more than an aluminum watch.

One of the drawbacks this watch has is you will have to choose GPS + Cellular if you’re going to choose it because it only comes in this style, which means you will ultimately have to activate the cellular network, and it would cost more bucks in addition to its price.

If you’re a sporty person or an athlete, you should go with an Aluminum watch, and if you’re into expensive, elite watches, then this stainless-steel would be a good option for you.

FAQS

Is it worth getting Stainless Steel Apple Watch?

If you’re looking for a more rigid/hard material, which is durable under cracks and prevents the watch from shattering, then you should go for a stainless-steel Apple watch.

Does the aluminum Apple Watch scratch easily?

No, Aluminum Apple Watch does not scratch easily, and due to matte finishing, it makes sure that tiny or microscopic scratches are not entirely visible most of the time.

Is aluminum stainless steel or titanium better for Apple Watch?

In terms of durability titanium, Apple Watch would be best, but it costs way more than the base model. Stainless-steel Apple Watch is comparatively cheaper than titanium, and has good durability, while Aluminum has the least durability of both these.

Does Apple Watch aluminum rust?

Although Apple Watch aluminum does not rust in normal conditions, if the corrosion does happen then the layer of oxide will prevent it from happening.

Is the stainless steel apple watch too heavy?

Stainless-steel Apple Watch is quite heavier than the aluminum Watch. The stainless-steel Apple Watch 7 (45mm) weighs around 51.5g while the same aluminum style weighs 38.5, which shows the difference. However, its weight depends on the wrist size of the person wearing it.

Which Apple Watch is most durable?

Apple Watch 7 is the most durable, Apple has ever introduced.

Which Apple Watch is the most scratch-resistant?

Apple Watch 7 is the most scratch-resistant watch in this watch series, with titanium and stainless-steel cases to resist scratches in the best possible ways.

Which Apple Watch looks best?

Although it depends on one’s personal choice, Apple Watch 7 is the most durable, and the latest smartwatch might be perfect for you.

Is the aluminum Apple Watch waterproof?

The Aluminum Apple watch is water-resistant to 50m, but it’s not entirely water-proof. This means that you may wear it during swimming, or while hand-washing, and it won’t get damaged.

Is Apple Watch easily scratched?

Depends on the type of scratches, and the watch you’re using. If we’re talking about Apple Watch 7, then it has the most scratch-resistant glass ever, and its predecessors might be prone to scratches where it’s not.

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