Stainless Steel vs Aluminum Apple Watch: Is the Added Cost Worth It?

The Apple Watch comes in various colors, materials, and sizes. Although stainless steel and aluminum may appear distinct at first glance, what other characteristics set these two materials apart?

There are various different Apple Watch models available, including gold, silver, and space grey/black versions in 40/41mm and 44/45mm sizes, as well as cellular and GPS + Wi-Fi only variants. The most common material used in making Apple watches is stainless steel and aluminum. How are these both different? What are their features and properties? Let’s find out all that in this article.

Material Comparison

Apple Watch Series 4 Aluminum and Stainless Steel models side by side | WCCFTech

Iron, carbon, and chromium make up the metal alloy known as stainless steel. The addition of chromium produces a layer of protection against corrosion and rust. Jewelry, home appliances, and luxury watch casings are just a few examples of the many common places you’ll find stainless steel due to its longevity, strength, and resistance to corrosion.


  • Durability
  • Resistant to corrosion
  • Aesthetic appeal


  • Higher cost
  • Heavier weight
  • Prone to scratching

Aluminum combines with other metals to form aluminum metal used in manufacturing and construction. It is extremely lightweight and inexpensive. Aluminum is frequently used in the production of electronics and other products.


  • Lightweight
  • Affordable
  • Resistant to corrosion


  • Lower durability
  • Prone to scratching
  • Less appealing aesthetically than stainless steel


Source | TheGearLoop

Since aluminum is weaker than stainless steel, its case is more vulnerable to damage. However, this is not a major issue because the aluminum case is still quite tough to crack in a collision.

When comparing aluminum with other materials, the way minor scratches and wear show up is usually in metal’s favor. Although the metal case is not specifically designed to prevent scratches, the smooth, glossy texture ensures that any blemishes are hidden.

On the other hand, stainless steel is considerably more impact-resistant than aluminum because of the material’s high hardness. This improves the material’s durability, particularly for sports and other vigorous activities.

Unfortunately, its shiny exterior is easily damaged by scuffs and scrapes of any size. If you have the blue model, the scratches won’t be very noticeable, but if your watch is silver, they will be very noticeable. Also, the fingerprints show up more clearly on the polished stainless steel.


Apple Watch Series 4 on a weighing scale | Gigazine

Stainless steel is often heavier than aluminum because it has a density that is around 1.5 times higher on average. The stainless steel (41mm) Apple Watch Series 8 weighs about 42.3 grams, about 10 grams more than the aluminum model (which weighs 32 grams for a 41mm watch).

Aluminum is the best option if you prefer a lightweight watch or have a smaller wrist. Athletes and people who exercise routinely can also benefit from the lighter finish.

Resistance to corrosion

Differences in corrosion resistance are another key feature that sets aluminum apart from steel. A thick, protective oxide layer forms on aluminum alloy after it comes into contact with air or water, making it much less likely to rust. Stainless steel, on the other hand, develops a passivation layer upon contact with both elements, reducing the corrosion rate to a greater extent than aluminum alloy.

Cellular and Color Options

Apple Watch Series 8 colors | XDA

The problem of cellular capabilities must also be considered. Apple Watches made of stainless steel all have GPS and cellular connectivity. The latter raises the cost of the watch and, once engaged, necessitates a subscription to a data service. You still have to pay for the service even if you don’t use your cell phone. However, Apple offers a choice between GPS-only and GPS+cellular functionality for watches made of aluminum.

Midnight, starlight, and silver are the aluminum Apple Watch SE colors. While only two colors, silver and space black, are available for the stainless steel models.

Price points

Prices range from series to series, but a common pattern emerges when contrasting Apple Watches made from aluminum and stainless steel. Compared to their stainless steel counterparts, the aluminum variants are more affordable.

The Apple Watch SE 2 , which we think represents a good average of all Apple Watches, starts at $249 for the aluminum model. It does not have a stainless steel option since the watch is geared towards the more oriented crowd. 

The aluminum Series 8 Apple Watch starts at $399, while the stainless steel model starts at $699. However, there is only one stainless steel watch at that price, and the rest range from $749 to $1399, on average.


Apple Watch Series 8 | Bloomberg

Stainless steel is preferable to aluminum for the Apple Watch case when considering style. It’s finished in a way that’s both aesthetically beautiful and very reflective. The stainless steel variant is ideal if you’re a fan of casual timepieces or want something aesthetically pleasing to wear.

Conversely, the aluminum Apple Watch is just as striking. The aluminum Apple Watch is better if you want a matte finish than the glossy version.

Availability of Accessories

A wide variety of bands, cases, chargers, and screen protectors are all readily available for the Apple Watch in stainless steel. By doing so, users may truly make their gadgets their own. One of the benefits of the stainless steel variant is the availability of a wide range of optional extras.

Accessories for the aluminum Apple Watch are also available, but there is a smaller selection than there is for the stainless steel model. There are still some ways to make the device unique, but the alternatives are more limited. If you’re trying to personalize your gadget, this could be an option to consider.

Apple Watch accessories | Engadget

Is the Stainless Steel for you?

Whether a stainless steel watch is worth, it depends on several factors, including personal preference, budget, and the intended use of the watch. A stainless steel watch is often seen as a more durable and higher quality option than other materials like plastic or silicone. It is also resistant to rust and corrosion, making it ideal for those who lead an active lifestyle or are looking for a long-lasting investment.

However, stainless steel watches can be more expensive than other materials and may not be suitable for individuals with a limited budget. Ultimately, the decision of whether a stainless steel watch is worth it is a personal one and should take into consideration individual needs and preferences.

Where the Apple Watch Ultra comes in

When it comes to Apple Watches, the Apple Watch Ultra is the best option for those who value durability above all else. This model is constructed from the most innovative materials and is designed to resist the most challenging situations.

The case and display cover are made from ultra-hard, high-performance ceramic, and sapphire crystal, making them very resistant to scratches, cracks, and other forms of damage. In addition to being up to four times as strong as regular stainless steel, the watch’s case and buckle are made of solid titanium. If you’re worried about the longevity of your watch and want the best protection available, the Apple Watch Ultra is your best bet.

Apple Ultra Watch | Apple

The Apple Watch Ultra is advisable for people who are into fitness and adventure and have the budget to spend a little extra to opt for the Apple Watch Ultra. The Apple Watch Ultra is the ultimate choice for fitness and adventure enthusiasts as it offers a larger display and longer battery life.

Additionally, it also has a range of advanced features that cater to the needs of fitness and adventure enthusiasts. By spending an extra $100, people can enjoy the best of both worlds – durability and advanced features that enhance their fitness and adventure experience.

Final Thoughts

Both materials have advantages and disadvantages, depending on the user’s tastes and the circumstances under which they will be used. The aluminum Apple Watch is a wonderful choice if you’re looking for a lightweight device that doesn’t weigh you down, comes in more colors, has a matte coating that resists scratches, and costs less.

This is the more cost-effective alternative if you like to update to a new model every year or two. If you’re ready to spend a little more money, the stainless steel Apple Watch is a great choice if you want a more durable, heavy, and elegant timepiece with a timeless design.


Kamil Anwar

Kamil is a certified MCITP, CCNA (W), CCNA (S) and a former British Computer Society Member with over 9 years of experience Configuring, Deploying and Managing Switches, Firewalls and Domain Controllers also an old-school still active on FreeNode.