Apple Watch Aluminum vs Stainless Steel: Which Is Better?

The new Apple Watch Series 4 comes in different combinations of sizes, colors, and finishes. While you’re likely to select size and color based mainly on looks, your lifestyle should influence your choice of finish — aluminum or stainless steel — more. The types of metal used for the Apple Watch’s case have their own pros and cons, and we’ll discuss each of them to help you decide which one is better for you.

Apple Watch Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Comparison Chart

ModelApple Watch Series 4 AluminumApple Watch Series 4 Stainless Steel
Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular, 40mm) - Space Gray Aluminum Case with Black Sport Band Apple Watch Series 4 (GPS + Cellular, 40mm) - Gold Stainless Steel Case with Gold Milanese Loop 
PriceCheck Price Check Price 
138 Reviews 

19 Reviews 
Weight (40mm)30.1g39.8g
Weight (44mm)36.7g47.9g
DisplayIon-X Strengthened GlassSapphire Crystal
Damage ResistanceScratch-resistantShatter-resistant
Lifestyle (see below)ActivePremium
ConnectivityGPS, GPS + CellularGPS + Cellular only

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Case Weight

The aluminum case is lighter; stainless steel is heavier.

Apple Watch Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Case Weight
Pictured are the stainless steel (left) and aluminum (right) finishes.

Stainless steel cases for both the 40mm and 44mm models are about 10 grams, or 33%, heavier than their aluminum counterparts. Those who like wearing traditional watches will appreciate how solid the stainless steel version feels on their wrist, but those who aren’t used to the additional weight on their person will like the lighter aluminum more. Whether you prefer a lighter or heavier Apple Watch is up to you, but you can select the corresponding case if this is an important factor.

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Damage Resistance

The aluminum case is more resistant to scratches, but the stainless steel case is more durable against bigger damage.

Apple Watch Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Damage Resistance
Each case type has different resistances to damage.

The matte finish of the aluminum case makes it less prone to tiny scratches or microabrasions. The glossy surface of the stainless steel case, however, is a bit more susceptible to such marks, and it might be noticeable after about a year of regular use. On the flip side, the stronger sapphire crystal used on the front display of the stainless steel case is actually more scratch resistant than the Ion-X strengthened glass used on the aluminum version.

Stainless steel is a tougher egg to crack compared to aluminum, and even though you shouldn’t put that to the test, knowing it’s a bit more durable is a nice feeling to have.


The aluminum case is better suited for an active lifestyle.

Apple Watch Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Lifestyle
The lightweight aluminum case feels better for sports.

Although Apple aims to help people be more active and healthy with each new generation of their smartwatch, it’s safe to say that the lighter aluminum is better suited for those who like to run a lot or work out in the gym. You won’t notice its weight as much so you can focus on your exercise, although you should still take care not to scuff it against heavy equipment.

If you’re more into casual fitness and value the premium, glossy sheen of the stainless steel model, it’s definitely the better choice for flair and style.


The aluminum case costs less than the stainless steel.

Apple Watch Aluminum vs Stainless Steel Price
The stainless steel case has a more premium finish.

Apple Watches aren’t cheap wearable by any means, but the price difference between aluminum and stainless steel variations is sizable. An aluminum finish can cost up to 40% less than a stainless steel one, making it the more affordable choice. Note that the stainless steel Apple Watches only come with the GPS + Cellular models, so they’re inherently more expensive.

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Go for the aluminum case if you have an active lifestyle; pick stainless steel if you want a more premium style.

The choice between the Apple Watch aluminum vs stainless steel cases should boil down to how you’re going to use it. The lightweight, sporty aluminum version is arguably better for everyday use while running and working out, and costs less to boot. On the other hand, no one can deny the premium, glossy look of a stainless steel finish, so if you’re after a solid and durable timepiece that you can still wear while swimming or surfing, this version will be more appealing.

Last update on 2020-03-30 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Derick Bondoc
Derick Bondoc

Managing Editor at Compare Before Buying. Writer and researcher passionate about gadgets, gaming and snacks.