Fashion forward

Titanium Apple Watch Series 5

Cost factor

Aluminum Apple Watch Series 5

Now that Apple Watch comes in titanium, we have two options for a brushed metal casing. Titanium is harder metal and has a richer finish, but it doesn't come in gold.

From $799 at Apple

Pros

  • Deeper, richer look than aluminum
  • Harder metal
  • The newest material for Apple Watch

Cons

  • No gold option
  • More expensive

Aluminum is the entry-level price for Apple Watch and it's the preferred model for many runners, but there's nothing new to look at here.

From $399 at Apple

Pros

  • Lighter weight
  • Comes in gold
  • Less expensive

Cons

  • Older material design

The titanium and aluminum versions of Apple Watch Series 5 are nearly identical in every way. The both come in 40mm or 44mm sizes, and the both have all the same new features of Apple Watch, including the always-on screen, international emergency calling, and built-in compass. The real difference is in the price and weight, which is significant.

Titanium vs aluminum: What are the differences?

The two different material cases are identical in many ways, like screen size, sensors, battery life, and Bluetooth support. There are, however, enough differences that it's important to consider them when deciding which one is right for you.

Titanium Apple Watch Aluminum Apple Watch
Starting price $799 $399
Weight 35.1g (40mm)
41.7g (44m)
30.8g (40mm)
36.5g (44m)
Screen material Sapphire crystal Ion-X glass
Back material Sapphire crystal and ceramic Sapphire crystal and ceramic
Display - Always-On Retina display with Force Touch
- LTPO OLED display (1000 nits)
- Always-On Retina display with Force Touch
- LTPO OLED display (1000 nits)
Processor S5 with 64-bit dual-core processor S5 with 64-bit dual-core processor
Wireless chip W3 W3
Sensors
- Barometric altimeter
- Optical heart sensor
- Electrical heart sensor
- Accelerometer up to 32 g-forces
- Gyroscope
- Ambient light sensor

- Barometric altimeter
- Optical heart sensor
- Electrical heart sensor
- Accelerometer up to 32 g-forces
- Gyroscope
- Ambient light sensor
Storage capacity 32GB 32GB
Battery life Up to 18 hours Up to 18 hours
GPS-only No Yes
GPS+ Cellular Yes Yes
Finish Brushed Brushed
Colors Silver
Space black
Silver
Space gray
Gold
Water resistance 50 meters 50 meters

Titanium or aluminum: which brushed metal is for you?

If you've always favored the brushed metal look, whether for aesthetic or to avoid those microabrasions, you now have two choices for Apple Watch; aluminum and titanium. The material, however, makes them look completely different.

The aluminum case on the Apple Watch is bright and light to look at. It's got a fitness aesthetic. Even the Space gray model looks like it's lightweight.

The titanium case, on the other hand, has darker, richer tones. The best way to describe it is that titanium looks more like jewelry (like a fashion watch) and aluminum looks more like a fitness band.

That doesn't mean the aluminum Apple Watch doesn't dress up nicely. I owned two aluminum Apple Watches and successfully paired the look with the Milanese Loop and Modern Buckle and they looked quite fashionable.

The silver aluminum and titanium cases have the most significant differences in terms of looks. The latter has a deeper silver hue. Silver aluminum looks lightweight — like a runner's watch.

The space gray aluminum and space black titanium are less noticeably different, but when you see them side-by-side, you can tell that titanium has a darker shine to it.

Weighing the weight factor

Aluminum looks lightweight because it is lightweight. The aluminum Apple Watch has long been a fan favorite of runners, one reason it's the only case material available for the Apple Watch Nike version.

The titanium Apple Watch is lighter than the stainless steel model, but it's still heavier than aluminum by about 5 grams.

To a lot of people, 5 grams doesn't make that much of a difference, but to runners especially, it makes all the difference.

Sapphire vs Ion-X and does it really matter?

The choice of sapphire crystal or Ion-X glass is not about higher or lower quality. It's about what the Watch's intended purpose is. The aluminum Apple Watch is designed with athletes in mind, which is why apple sticks to Ion-X every year. Greg Koenig wrote about the differences between the two for iMore back in 2015.

Sapphire is very hard, making it resistant to scratches, but somewhat brittle. Ion-X is a more yielding material, able to withstand bending and impacts sapphire would crumble under, but it's softness also makes it more susceptible to surface damage.

Ion-X is more likely to experience microabrasions, but the tradeoff for what athletes would use it for is worth it.

The golden child

Currently, Apple doesn't offer titanium in a gold color and that's fine. Do a quick image search for brushed titanium gold and you'll get an idea of what it looks like. It's not ugly, but I'm not sure it would win favor with a lot of buyers. At least not enough to justify a supply order.

Brushed rose gold, on the other hand, would probably be a big hit. I'm hoping that Apple with either offer up a rose gold brushed titanium option in the future or replace the polished stainless steel with polished titanium, in which case gold would be a big hit.

Bottom line

Your decision on whether to go with titanium or aluminum on the Series 5 comes down to a few features. There are a lot of similarities, but the differences are significant.

  • If you want the absolute lightest material, the aluminum Apple Watch is designed for fitness and the lightest of all Apple Watch models, including titanium.
  • If you want a look that's more fashion jewelry than fitness focused, the brushed titanium has a more elegant look.
  • If you gotta have gold, you gotta have aluminum (or stainless steel).
  • If you want GPS-only, you'll have to choose aluminum. Titanium isn't available without cellular capabilities (though you don't have to sign up for a cellular plan).
  • If cost is a deciding factor, the aluminum Apple Watch Series 5 is $400 cheaper than the titanium model. For that matter, you can get the Series 3 for a song at only $199.

Newest look

Apple Watch Series 5 Titanium

If you want all your friends to know you're wearing this year's model, titanium screams "I'm new!"

Lighter all-around

Apple Watch Series 5 Aluminum

The aluminum Apple Watch is lighter in color, lighter in weight, and lighter on the pocketbook.

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