Apple Watch Series 6: Stainless steel vs aluminum
The Apple Watch 6 is available in three flavors - aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium (no ceramic option, sadly.) We’ll leave the titanium option for now and focus on the more obvious riddle here - aluminum versus stainless steel. Both versions have the same hardware and software features - they can track your heart rate, measure your blood oxygen levels, monitor your sleep, and do all those useful things to make your life easier. What are the differences, then?
Apple Watch: Stainless steel vs aluminum
Apple Watch Series 6 aluminum
- GPS only, GPS + Cellular options
- Weight: 30.5g (40mm), 36.5g (44mm)
- Display material: Ion-X strengthen glass
- Charging puck: plastic
- Colors: Space Gray, Silver, Gold, Blue, and (Product)RED
- Price: from $399
Apple Watch Series 6 stainless steel
- GPS + Cellular only
- Weight: 39.7g (40mm), 47.1g (44mm)
- Display material: sapphire crystal
- Charging puck: stainless steel
- Colors: Silver, Gold, and Graphite
- Price: from $699
The biggest difference between the two versions is that you can get the aluminum without a plan. If you want a stainless steel casing, on the other hand, your only option is GPS + Cellular, even if you don’t plan on using the watch with a monthly data plan. You’re paying around $100 more for the Cellular option, which is a considerable amount, so it’s worth mentioning when making a buying decision.
Now let’s talk about durability. The aluminum casing variety of the Apple Watch 6 is softer and prone to scratches and chipping. If you bump the watch against a hard surface like a wall, chances are that it will register some damage. The display coating on the Apple Watch 6 aluminum is Ion-X strengthened glass, which is also softer than the sapphire crystal, used on the stainless steel version.
If you go for the Apple Watch 6 stainless steel, you’ll get a much harder casing material and display. Sapphire crystal is one of the hardest opaque materials in the world. It has been used in high-end conventional watches for decades and can only be scratched by a diamond or an object with similar hardness. In practice, with a sapphire crystal display, your Apple Watch Series 6 will most likely remain scratch-free until it’s time for a new one, and even after that.
Last but not least, there’s the weight. Stainless steel versions are heavier than aluminum because steel is a harder and denser material. We’re talking roughly 10 grams more for the stainless steel versions against aluminum ones in their respective sizes. It might not sound as much but if we look at the weight of the Apple Watch 6 aluminum (30.5g) the difference is actually more than 30%. So, if you plan to wear your Apple Watch 6 all day (and night), every day, maybe you should consider the weight very carefully.
Which one should you buy?
It all boils down to personal preference, of course, but here are a few tips. If you want a variety of colors to choose from, a lighter and cheaper Apple Watch, then the aluminum variant is perfect for you. If you want the added protection of the sapphire crystal and the stainless steel casing, and don’t mind the extra weight (and money), then you should buy the Apple Watch 6 stainless steel. The price is obviously the biggest factor here, as the Apple Watch Series 6 stainless steel variant costs almost twice as much as the aluminum model. If you want to save some money but still have peace of mind, you can opt for an AppleCare+ subscription. It's worth mentioning, that the Nike+ edition of the Apple Watch 6 comes only in an aluminum casing, so there's also that to consider.