Apple Watch Comparison: Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel (All Models Explained)

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 styles, 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.

It’s always a debate that which is the best Apple Watch: Aluminum vs. Stainless-steel? So, to answer all of your queries, we will discuss all the Apple watches and see if there’s any difference between them or not.

 

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

The latest Smartwatch from Apple until now is this beautiful watch right here, which is the perfect accessory for an iPhone user. However, it is practically the same and has no visible changes to its design or appearance since it’s the latest, so the iPhone users really loved it.

It 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 in 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

Apple Watch Series 6 (44mm) Aluminum (GPS) Stainless Steel (GPS + Cellular)
Colors Silver, Gold, Space Gray, Blue, Red Silver, Graphite (DLC), Gold (PVD)
Sizes 40mm & 44mm 40mm & 44mm
Sim No Yes
Build Glass front, ceramic/sapphire crystal back, aluminum frame Glass front (Sapphire crystal), ceramic/sapphire crystal back, stainless steel frame
Weight (44mm) 36.5g 47.1g
Display 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 Ion-X strengthened glass Sapphire crystal glass
RAM/Storage 1GB RAM/32GBGB 1GB RAM/32GB
Sensors Heart rate (3rd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass Heart rate (2nd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass
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 303.8 mAh (1.17 Wh), non-removable & 18 hours of usage Li-Ion 303.8 mAh (1.17 Wh), non-removable & 18 hours of usage

 

Color and display:

Unlike the previous generation of Apple Smartwatches, this Series came with new colors and liked 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 really 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 really 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 4 Aluminum vs. Stainless steel

Apple Watch Series 5 (40mm) Aluminum (Wi-Fi) Stainless Steel (GPS + Cellular)
Colors Silver, Gold, Space Gray Space Black, Silver, Gold
Sizes 40mm & 44mm 40mm & 44mm
Sim No Yes
Build Glass front, ceramic/sapphire crystal back, aluminum frame Glass front (Sapphire crystal), ceramic/sapphire crystal back, stainless steel frame
Weight (40mm) 30g 39.8g
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/32GBGB 1GB RAM/32GB
Sensors Heart rate (2nd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass Heart rate (2nd gen), Barometer, Accelerometer, Gyro, Compass
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 (0.94 Wh), non-removable& 18 hours of usage Li-Ion 225 mAh (0.94 Wh), non-removable& 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 Series 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, 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.

 

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 really 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, 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 Series 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 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:

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.

 

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

Both Watches have their owns 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 have 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.

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