Apple Watch Aluminum VS Stainless Steel — Which is Better? [2020]

Daniella Perry Siegel
9 min readFeb 20, 2019


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It was Apple watch 3 vs 4 and now with the series 4 at the end of its reign, we now see the domination of the series 5. Regardless of watch series, the material used is a big question mark.

Which should you get? In this comparison you will find out.

For now, here’s an interesting table that summarizes everything from this comparison.

apple watch aluminum vs stainless steel table

Apple Watch Aluminum vs Stainless Steel

1 — Stainless Steel Apple Watch

apple watch series 5 stainless steel

2 — Aluminum Apple Watch

Stainless Steel with Sapphire Crystal Display

One option for the new Apple Watch series 5 would be the stainless steel Apple watch, which is quite a common material used for watches that are built to last.

It is paired with a strengthened glass sapphire crystal display which is very robust indeed.

Price aside, the Apple Watch stainless steel case is very very tough. Stainless steel is scratch resistant, which makes your apple watch near indestructible and not susceptible to scratches (within reason of course).

They have a sleek and elegant look for smartwatches that other stainless steel model watches may not have.

The sapphire crystal display keeps your watch face properly protected and stainless steel models are not easily bent and deformed and they do not rust or corrode.

That is a huge plus for those of us who feel naked without our stainless steel apple watch and never take them off. Our sweat over time, and wearing it in the shower can damage other materials — but not this one.

Compared to the Apple aluminum version which is Ion-X glass, the sapphire crystal display on the stainless steel model is more durable. The sapphire crystal display definitely wins on durability.

Although it’s much more durable in the stainless steel Apple Watch, it actually sports the wear and tear incurred from daily activities much more obviously than the aluminum apple watch.

This is not a problem for those who “wear their scars proudly” so to speak, but not a lot of people like a worn-in look.

However, there are not a lot of people we know out there that can say they like the fingerprint imprints all over their Apple watch.

Another very important factor to keep in mind is although the stainless steel apple watch is much more scratch resistant than the aluminum apple watch, it is much more lacking and weaker in the impact department.

The stainless steel model (plus glass sapphire crystal display) is more rigid and heavier than Ion-X glass.

Do you want a relatively weightless accessory on your wrist or one you can feel wrapped around you at all times?

We also mentioned the price near the beginning of this section because sapphire crystal is more expensive and will therefore raise the overall price of your Apple stainless steel watch.

Anodized Aluminum with Ion-X Glass

Aluminum isn’t a bad case, it doesn’t rust either, but the material is susceptible to corrosion and scratches. That, if you ask us, is a big drawback for the aluminum Apple Watch.

However, the aluminum case in these steel apple watches are anodized, which means that when corrosion occurs, a layer of oxide is produced by the material which acts as further protection for the aluminum model.

This is also why tons of cookware and electronics are anodized. Plus, it hides the wear much better!

Now let’s talk about the Apple watch surface. Ion-X glass is pretty strong, durable, and light.

Ion-X glass is well-known for being impact-resistant. So while the display does scratch more easily than stainless steel apple watch models (say goodbye to your lovely matte finish), they get to handle force and impact much better when in use.

If you lead a lifestyle that’s full of physical activity, we’d suggest you use the Ion-X glass since there is much less of a chance of shattering or scratches. As said above, stainless steel models are much heavier and more expensive.

If you are looking for a budget-friendly option that can withstand heavy-duty exercise or sports, then an aluminum apple watch would be a better choice.

It’s also more flexible and lighter which makes it more comfortable to wear. The flexibility also contributes to the fact that it doesn’t crack as easily as sapphire crystal either.

The only con we can think of for the 5 apple watch series in aluminum would be that it’s more prone to damage and the Ion-X glass is more scratch-resistant.

However, keep in mind that it takes quite a lot of force to damage these watches so it doesn’t matter which models you choose, the aluminum apple or stainless steel apple watch will hold up to regular use.

If you’re still confused about which watch to buy, we can paint some hypothetical scenarios for you to help you decide and compare Apple watches! Read on to decide which lifestyle or purpose fits you the best.

For the Aluminum Watch

You should buy the aluminum version of the Apple watch if you don’t want it to weigh down your wrist. We need our hands for everyday activities and sometimes that includes carrying heavy items.

If you don’t want something straining your wrist, then aluminum models are a great choice.

Aluminum models are also the more wallet-friendly options and in general, they are both pretty sturdy. You also have the option to go for a GPS only, or a GPS and cellular watch.

If you’re the type to like to upgrade your devices every time Apple comes out with something new, then save yourself some money by wearing the anodized aluminum Apple watch.

Also, if this is the first time you’re trying an Apple watch, maybe hold back a bit instead of plunking down a few hundred for a product you aren’t sure about.

If you’re pretty scatterbrained and often misplace your belongings, this is also a more replaceable option.

For the Stainless Steel Watch

The stainless steel model in the Apple watch series looks more stylish and sleek especially in space black, and some of us want something heavier as it makes us feel more secure.

They are also more durable if you don’t think it will sustain heavy force to the watch face. They do not corrode the way anodized aluminum eventually might.

They are also more expensive, and we know there are some people out there that want to afford the most expensive option.

Further Comparisons

Now let’s take a look at deeper facts such as the price and accessories that come with it.

You should know by now that anodized aluminum is much cheaper, and by cheaper we mean up to $500!

They are available in roughly the same colors except for the aluminum apple watch having a space grey, silver, and gold, and the stainless steel option comes in a space black. The gold and silver look pretty much the same.

They come in two sizes, the 40mm and the 44mm. Let’s check out the weight difference between the two with just a 4mm contrast.

The lighter Apple watch (aluminum)model comes in at about 30g for the 40mm and about 37g for the 44mm size.

It’s hard to feel the difference of just a few grams so the weight shouldn’t be the deciding factor. As for the stainless steel apple watch, you’re looking at about 40g for the 40mm and about 48g for the 44mm size.

For the charging puck, you get what you pay for in a sense since it comes in plastic for the aluminum and stainless steel topped for the stainless steel.

Also, for the stainless steel apple watch they do not sell Wi-Fi only options, which means you need cellular.

That’s a big point in favor of aluminum, just because they have more options like cellular. The storage space in both is the same at 32GB.

GPS, cellular, and other functions are included in all new Apple stainless steel options. If you nab one with cellular functions, the cellular of course drives up the price. of the Apple watch.

To add even more money on top of that, you need a monthly plan to activate this feature.

Basically, even if you don’t want GPS / cellular and you purchase the stainless steel Apple watch option, you have to pay for it anyways.

For the aluminum, you can get a GPS only device, or a GPS and cellular device.

There is Still the Elusive Titanium Model

If neither of the most popular Apple materials work for you, there’s still the new titanium model.

It is a newly adopted material that is extra durable. It is the second-most expensive option in the series 5 lineup and it looks unique and is still extra tough.

Perhaps the price turned you off a little bit, take this into consideration.

If aluminum makes your new timepiece feel like a plastic toy and the stainless steel is just too hefty, the titanium option presents to you the best of both worlds.

It’s a good weight, not too heavy and not too light, it’s just right (we’re starting to feel like we’re in Goldilocks and the Three Bears).

It’s also quite resistant to scratches and fingerprints, which further puts it in the “just right” category.

It’s really quite a revolutionary change Apple has made, and it still comes with the tough and durable sapphire crystal watch face.

The brushed matte finish of the Apple watch may not be for everyone, but you get your pick of stylish silver or sexy space grey.

We won’t go into the ceramic models which is also available for the Apple 5 series because in terms of durability, it just isn’t that much more impressive than other options and there’s only one color available.

Unlike the aluminum option that’s available in gray, silver, and gold color. It’s also on the heavy side rivaling the stainless steel option and it’s up there in price.

The Bottom Line

Series 3 and Series 4 are now overshadowed by the new Series 5. We hope you have formulated an idea of what’s important to you when it comes to the Apple watch.

Is being scratch resistant, shatterproof or light at the top of your want list? For us, we feel the aluminum option is sufficient enough for everyday wear and enough for most people in terms of durability. It’s also a lighter product and there are lots of colors available like silver, space gray, and gold.

We don’t want the corrosion that may occur in these Apple watches, but it would take quite a while for that to happen, and most people have upgraded to different products by then.

If you’re planning to not part with your Apple watch model for years to come, you’d want to get stainless steel as it’s much more durable.

A lot of people we have spoken to agree as well that aluminum is a great choice, but don’t forget that there’s a step between the two and a revolutionary find — the titanium option.


The Apple watch keeps upgrading year by year with the materials and performance even more impressive than the last models.

We’ve series 3 and series 4. How does one keep up? Find what matters to you the most, ignore the fads and take your budget well into account.

Our final suggestion is that the aluminum is the best quality for the price in the entire line of Apple watches.



Daniella Perry Siegel

I’m Daniella. I love to try different stuff and share my feedback and my thoughts about them. Hope you enjoy my blog. Thank you!