Choosing Which Apple Watch to Buy

We've "sprung forward." Now we know what the specs are for the Apple Watch, and most importantly, what it will cost, in each configuration. We know that the somewhat smaller watches with a 38 mm case (height) will cost $50 less than the 42 mm ones. We also know there is no functional difference between the smaller one and the larger one. For my money, I will probably get the smaller one. It should be somewhat less bulky and perhaps more importantly, $349 is closer to an impulse buy (at least as Apple products go) versus $399. As an app developer with several watch apps on the horizon, I know I need to own an Apple Watch. But that doesn't mean I need a fancy one.

Apple's 42 mm (top) and 38 mm (bottom) watches

38mm Apple Watch

I like aluminum and see no compelling reason to get a stainless steel model instead of the Sport model. Yes, there's a sapphire screen on the higher end model, but Apple claims the glass on the Sport model is hardened to prevent scratches. Again, the functionality for all the Apple Watches is the same. From an appearance standpoint, the silver aluminum case and the stainless steel case don't look that different from each other. If you want a better band, you'll have to add $100 or more to the price of the stainless steel model, which raises your starting point to $649. 


Can you guess which Apple Watch is aluminum or stainless steel? Is the difference worth $200?

Aluminum and Steel

The left one is aluminum and the right is stainless steel.

In fact, not only has Apple priced the Apple Watch high enough to give breathing room to competitors like Pebble and Martian Watches, they have priced their bands so high, at $49 to $149 or even $249, that they may have just created a growth opportunity for third party Apple Watch band makers. I'm also disappointed that a band for the 38 mm watch won't work on the 42 mm watch and vice versa. That seems like a problem they could have solved, and it just doubles the complexity of inventory. It also means if you buy any extra bands, you are locking yourself in to that size watch for the future.

Perhaps most compelling, we all know a new-and-improved model will be forthcoming. The Apple Watch 2 might be two years away, but I would rather spend $349 now and $349 then, than $700 now. I would end up with two Apple Watches, and could hand down the old one or sell to a trade-in site like If I was able to get $200 by selling the old $349 model, it would have only cost me $500 to always own a state-of-the-art Apple Watch.

Another way to look at it is, for the $699 to $1199 an Apple Watch Stainless Steel 42 mm model with a steel band would cost, you could buy a Motorola 360 and a Pebble Time Steel and a Martian Watch and still have money left over. If money is no object, by all means, get the $10,000 gold Apple Watch Edition model; but as for me, I'll stick the most affordable model, and upgrade frequently.


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Author Details

Todd Bernhard's picture

Author Details

Todd Bernhard

Todd Bernhard is a bestselling (6+ million downloads) award-winning (AARP,,, Digital Hollywood, and Verizon) developer and founder of NoTie.NET, an app developer specializing in Talking Ringtone apps including AutoRingtone. And his profile photo is of the last known sighting of Mr. Bernhard wearing a tie, circa 2007!

An iPhone is almost always attached to his hip or in his pocket, but over the years, Mr. Bernhard has owned an Apple Newton, a Motorola Marco, an HP 95LX, a Compaq iPaq, a Palm Treo, and a Nokia e62. In addition to writing for iPhone Life, Mr. Bernhard has written for its sister publications, PocketPC Magazine and The HP Palmtop Paper.