Which Apple Watch to buy – Sport or Stainless Steel?

This is not a article on whether you should buy a Apple Watch or not – there are already plenty of those.

This is about the difference between the Apple Watch (Stainless Steel) and the Apple Watch Sport, and if the difference is worth the extra money.

Note: When I talk about the “Apple Watch”, I am referring to the stainless steel model. The Apple Watch Sport will be the “Apple Watch Sport” or just simply the “Sport”.

I am not going to talk about the Edition. If you are in the market for a gold watch, you should just get the Edition. Otherwise, for the rest of us mere mortals, our only choices are the Apple Watch Sport, and the Apple Watch (Stainless Steel).

Having had a stainless steel model (with Black Sports Band) since the launch day in April, and having prolonged exposure to the Space Grey Sport model (as my brother has one), it is obvious to me the difference between the two, and you slowly get to appreciate the benefits of each model.

The reflective look of the polished stainless steel body gives the Apple Watch (Stainless Steel) a much more refined look

The stainless steel body of the Apple Watch gives it a refined, polished high-end look, not unsimilar to many of the expensive watches out there, even with the cheapest black or white sports band.

On the other hand, the silver aluminium models make the Sport models look like Swatches (which is not a bad thing in itself), and have a obvious sports-look that may not be as presentable at formal events or in certain lines of work.

The Apple Watch (Stainless Steel) has heft

The heft of the Apple Watch compared to the (comparatively) weightlessness of the Sport actually gives it a better feel, especially if you are the type who prefers watches with decent heft, like many chronograph models. That said, if you are the kind of person to be bothered by a heavy piece of metal weighing you down throughout the day, the Sport will suit you better.

Sapphire > Ion Glass

The difference of the Sapphire cover “glass” on the Apple Watch can actually be felt, and it really is indestructible. Several knocks on the sapphire cover glass have produced zero scratches, while according to the rest of the Internet, the Ion Glass cover glass on the Sport, while strong (same glass as the iPhone 6), is still prone to scratches.

However, the Stainless Steel body of the Apple Watch is more prone to scratching than 7000-series aluminium used in the body of the Sport. If you are interested in purchasing a silicon cover/protector for your Apple Watch/Sport’s body, there have been reports of millions of micro-scratches on the stainless steel models resulting from the trapped dust rubbing against the stainless steel body, so these silicon covers will work better on the Sport models than the stainless steel ones.

That said, it is relatively enough to buff the scratches out on stainless steel, as watch repairers have done for as long as stainless steel have been used to make watches.

With the exception of the Sport bands and the Leather Loop, all other bands are fit to look right only with the Apple Watch (Stainless Steel)

As the lugs for bands like the Classic Buckle and the Milanese Loop are stainless steel, they will look most right on the stainless steel models as compared to the Sport models, even though there are no physical restrictions to swapping stainless steel lug-equiped bands onto the Sport, they just look better on the stainless steel body of the Apple Watch.

Then of course there are the niceties like the nicer jewellery case that comes with the stainless steel models, as well as the metallic magnetic charger as opposed to the plastic ones that comes with the Sport models, all of these makes having the Apple Watch (Stainless Steel) a slightly nicer experience as compared with the less-expensive Sport. (But with the Sport you get to save quite a bit of money!)

Of course, the Sport models are no slouch, and they function exactly the same (even though the internal construction of the Sport models and the stainless steel models are different, thanks to the dismantling pics from ifixit) with no difference in capacities and speed compared to the more expensive stainless steel models.

Besides, like many others on the various apple forums who have regretted their original purchases and decided to upgrade to stainless steel models, so long you purchased the Apple Watch from the Apple Online Store, there is a 14-day return policy which you can make use of to swap to a model that you prefer. Of course there’s the enhanced wait for the replacement, but it beats getting stuck with the remorse of buying the less than perfect model.

You can take a look at the (pretty amateur-ly done) unboxing video that I have done here.


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MacRyu is the Mac Blog by Singaporeans and for Singaporeans. It was started in April 2007 as a side project of the then President of the Official Mac User Group of NUS, Ryu, and grew to become possibly one of the most popular Apple-related sites based in Singapore. MacRyu hopes to provide you with more Mac-related info, thoughts and stuff, from the Singaporean perspective.

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