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Apple Watch titanium vs stainless steel vs aluminum: Which should you buy?

Dig into the details of Apple's build materials.

Published onNovember 1, 2023

Two Apple Watches rest side by side on their edges.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

Anyone shopping for a new Apple Watch will immediately face several important decisions. Among these is which material you’d like for your new smartwatch. The Apple Watch line, including the newest Apple Watch Series 9 and Ultra 2, offers cases in aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium. We break down these options to help you choose the right build for your wrist.

Hardness and scratch resistance

An Apple Watch Series 9 rests face down displaying the device's sensors.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The cheapest Apple Watch option, aluminum models, are the least resistant to cracks. A stainless steel model is significantly more expensive than an aluminum one but offers a more durable build. Stainless steel models also feature a sapphire crystal over their displays for added protection. The aluminum model only features Ion-X strengthened glass.

Regarding scratch resistance, aluminum models feature a matte finish that can often withstand or hide most micro-scratches. With their glossy, metallic finish, stainless steel models tend to show scratches more easily.

Titanium is the most durable material, which is why it’s the most expensive. More importantly, only the Apple Watch Ultra And Ultra 2 are available in titanium. These devices feature MIL-STD 810H certification toughness. Base-model Apple Watches are not available in titanium.

Design and finish

Depending on which build material you choose, Apple’s watches are available in several different finishes. However, all base models adhere to the same design and internal specs. You will find a back button, digital crown, and large, colorful AMOLED display on devices in either material. Aluminum and stainless steel watches are available in the following colors:


  • Pink
  • Midnight
  • Starlight
  • Silver
  • Product (Red)

Stainless steel

  • Gold
  • Silver
  • Graphite

Again, only the Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2 are available in titanium, and these watches feature a significantly different design than their base model siblings. The Ultra line is larger, more durable, and boasts advanced tools for outdoor adventuring. The line also only features a single titanium finish.

Are stainless steel and titanium worth the extra cost?

An Apple Watch Series 9 displays the app screen.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

For most shoppers, a stainless steel Apple Watch is not worth the extra cost. The user experience is identical in both materials, so you are not investing in a better experience or more features.

On the other hand, some users value the premium feel of stainless steel. The glossy finish is elevated, especially when paired with an upscale band. It is also slightly heavier, which can make it feel more expensive. Finally, the sapphire crystal over each stainless steel model’s display is a significant upgrade in terms of durability.

To call titanium an extra cost is misleading, as the titanium Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2 are very different devices than the base model Apple Watch. The upcharge for these devices has a lot to do with their feature sets, not just their durable builds.

 Titanium vs Stainless Steel vs Aluminum: Which material is right for you?

An Apple Watch Series 9 rests alongside its charger.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

If you are shopping for a base model Apple Watch Series 9, aluminum is likely the right option for you. If, however, you prefer a more durable display and a fancier finish, the stainless steel watch may be the right choice. Just beware, the case will show scratches over time.

Titanium is the right choice for you if you want the absolute best wearable Apple has to offer. The Apple Watch Ultra line packs a handful of significant upgrades, including better battery life. The watches are bulkier with a big display and more durable with impressive specs.


In our experience, the titanium Apple Watch Ultra and Ultra 2 do not scratch easily.

Many users claim that stainless steel Apple Watches show micro-scratches easily.

Throughout our review periods, we’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well aluminum model Apple Watches stand up to scratches.

You can not change the aluminum case on an Apple Watch.

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