Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Apple Watch: Which should you buy?


The People’s Apple Watch

Apple Watch Aluminum

Apple Watch Series 7 Aluminum

Elegance at a price

Apple Watch Stainless Steel

Apple Watch Series 7 Stainless Steel

The Apple Watch Series 7 aluminum model offers the same great internals as the equivalent stainless steel version. And then some older, less expensive models drop some features and cost even less.

From $179 at Amazon


  • Price
  • Choice of with or without cellular
  • Lighter
  • Nike+ version
  • Comes in more colors


  • Durability vs. stainless steel
  • Ion-X strengthened glass not as good as sapphire crystal

Durable, yes, but this Apple Watch costs hundreds more than the aluminum model. Thanks to the polished shine, it also shows those micro-abrasions easier.

From $599 at Amazon


  • Stainless steel is a stronger material
  • Sapphire Crystal glass front
  • Hermés version available


  • Pricey
  • Scratches are more noticeable
  • No Nike+ version
  • Weighs more

The Apple Watch is available in aluminum and stainless steel (as well as titanium). Apple Watch Series 3 and Apple Watch SE are available in aluminum. Apple Watch Series 7 is available in both aluminum and stainless steel, which is made of stronger material. But that might not matter for those that upgrade each year and want to save a few dollars.

Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel Apple Watch: Let’s compare

Apple Watch Series 7 Compare

Source: Apple

From a features perspective, Apple Watch Series 7 in either aluminum or stainless steel is identical. Either version, for example, can track your heart rate, include fitness tracking, and alert you to incoming messages. They also include available storage for onboard music and podcasts, and you can use the same third-party apps on all models. There are a few things to consider when choosing aluminum vs. stainless steel Apple Watch, like weight, material durability, and more. Below is a list of important details.

Apple Watch Aluminum Apple Watch Stainless Steel
Starting prices $399 (Series 7)
$279 (SE)
$179 (Series 3)
$599 (Series 7)
$1229 (Series 7 Hermés)
Color choices Midnight
Product (RED)
Weight 32.0g (41mm)
38.8g (45mm)
42.3g (41mm)
51.5g (45mm)
Display material Ion-X strengthened glass sapphire crystal
Wi-Fi only versions Yes No
Onboard storage size 32GB 32GB

As you can see, the differences between the aluminum and stainless steel Apple Watch Series 7 mostly come down to the materials used. Whether you’re talking about the casing or display, the stainless steel model offers better materials. The aluminum Apple Watch is a softer material, and the anodization could scratch or chip, as could its Ion-X-strengthened glass. The stainless steel Apple Watch is much, much harder. Still, stainless steel does have a drawback: Scratches are more noticeable than the aluminum version. These so-called microabrasions can appear on glossy stainless steel soon after you start wearing one, especially on the silver version.

Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel Apple Watch: Cellular and color options

Apple Watch Series7 Lifestyle 01 Apple

Source: Apple

There’s also the issue of cellular abilities. All Apple Watches with stainless steel include GPS and cellular capabilities. The latter increases the watch’s price and, when the feature is activated, requires a monthly data plan. If you don’t care about cellular, you pay for it anyway, which is a waste. By contrast, with the aluminum models, Apple gives you a choice between GPS only and GPS plus cellular.

The Apple Watch Series 7 aluminum model comes in five colors, including Midnight, Starlight, Green, Blue, and (Product), while the stainless steel Apple Watch Series 7 comes in four colors, including Silver, Gold, Space Black, and Graphite.

Aluminum vs. Stainless Steel Apple Watch: Which should you buy?

Apple Watch Series7 Lifestyle 01

Source: Apple

You should get the aluminum Apple Watch if you are:

  • Into physical fitness, and you want the lightest Apple Watch you can get.
  • Going to be rough enough with it — or likely to lose it — and want the most affordable replacement option possible.
  • Not sure about Apple Watch and want to try it out at the lowest cost of entry.
  • Simply love the way the bead-blasted aluminum looks.
  • Want a variety of color options, including blue and (Product)RED.

You should get the stainless steel Apple Watch if you:

  • Love watches and want something with some heft.
  • Want something classic on the outside but ultra-modern within.
  • Need a watch made out of strong materials like stainless steel and sapphire crystal.
  • Prefer the “classic jewelry” look.

So which is better when choosing between aluminum vs. stainless steel Apple Watch? We think the aluminum model is best for most folks. If you’re overly worried about possible damage, get an AppleCare+ subscription for peace of mind. Besides, Nike+ only comes in aluminum, which is something to also consider. If you plan on keeping your watch for more than two years, the stainless steel model might be best.

No matter which Apple Watch model you buy, be sure to check out our picks for the best Apple Watch bands.

Great product, better price

Apple Watch Series 7 Aluminum

Apple Watch Aluminum

Stylish and practical

Experience all the great features of the Apple Watch for less. Choose from lots of beautiful colors, too.

Beautiful, but pricey

Apple Watch Series 7 Stainless Steel

Apple Watch Stainless Steel

Stylish choice

If you’re really worried about breaking your Apple Watch, this is the one to get. Still, watch out for those inevitable scratches!

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