Is the stainless edition really a lot better?

TH55

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Original poster
Nov 5, 2011
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Just shattered my series 2 aluminum 42mm, debating replacing with the stainless model. I have someone offering me a series 3 stainless for $350. I'm just worried it will feel more heavy than the aluminum model I'm used to, is this the case or does it feel nicer?
 

Mabus51

macrumors 65816
Aug 16, 2007
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The S4 is the first one I’ve bought the aluminum version. I had the S0 & S3 in stainless. Honestly I prefer the stainless more. But the resell value is trash. You’re better off with the S4 than the S3 just for the LTE improvements. Not only does the LTE pick up faster on the S4, but the call quality & signal strength is better.
 
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TH55

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Nov 5, 2011
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The S4 is the first one I’ve bought the aluminum version. I had the S0 & S3 in stainless. Honestly I prefer the stainless more. But the resell value is trash. You’re better off with the S4 than the S3 just for the LTE improvements. Not only does the LTE pick up faster on the S4, but the call quality & signal strength is better.
Didn't they change the physical design of the watch? It looks a lot rounder, I prefer the more square look of the 1-3. If not maybe it was just the pics.
 

Mabus51

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Aug 16, 2007
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Didn't they change the physical design of the watch? It looks a lot rounder, I prefer the more square look of the 1-3. If not maybe it was just the pics.
Proportionately it is the same square design. Slightly thinner, longer & wider. It’s not rounder maybe it appears that way cause the screen has rounded corners instead of square corners.
 
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TH55

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Nov 5, 2011
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Proportionately it is the same square design. Slightly thinner, longer & wider. It’s not rounder maybe it appears that way cause the screen has rounded corners instead of square corners.
How much is the aluminum 42 mm 4?
 

Mabus51

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Aug 16, 2007
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How much is the aluminum 42 mm 4?
Aluminum models start at $400 and go up to $530. The stainless S4 start at $700. Prices are available on Apple’s site and Store app.

The stainless models lose more than half their value after 1 year. I wouldn’t pay more than $275 for a stainless S3 considering most trade-in shops were giving out less than that for trade. You can get a brand new aluminum S3 for $280.
 
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macduke

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Jun 27, 2007
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From my understanding the sapphire display on the Stainless Steel is more resistant to scratches but is a little more prone to cracking as it's not the gorilla glass, or is perhaps some kind of laminate or something different. I would go for aluminum if you're likely to crack it, because if you've slammed that one a few times before it broke you might have been replacing it a lot sooner with SS. I put a hairline down the right side of my Series 0 almost two years ago and just replaced it yesterday when my Series 4 arrived. I was lucky on crack placement but got it just from nicking the edge of my stainless steel refrigerator door handle while walking by. Only downside I noticed was that I had to be more careful getting it wet.

If I were you and wanting to not spend too much but still in a position where I needed a new Apple Watch, I would go for the Series 4 in aluminum. The bigger display really does make that much of a difference. I also saw somewhere that the RAM is bumped from 768MB to 1GB which means it can hold onto apps longer for smoother multitasking, and is probably why it supports more complications on the new faces. As for the stainless steel, I did buy it again, in the 44mm size, because I have always had stainless steel watches and like the look and feel of it. But it is also my intention to only upgrade my Apple Watch every three years, as I did with the original, and I get the feeling that this one is going to be a lot better off three years from now than my Series 0 was. I'm also hoping that Apple has somehow made the Sapphire a little stronger since we are now on the fourth iteration.
 
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PaladinGuy

macrumors 6502a
Sep 22, 2014
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Well, it depends on how much you want the sapphire and steel build. They’re much more durable. I think I’d rather have a steel S3 than an aluminum S4. I can’t handle scratches on a watch face.
 

Damn Dirty Ape

macrumors regular
Feb 23, 2010
121
12
Illinois
Well, it depends on how much you want the sapphire and steel build. They’re much more durable. I think I’d rather have a steel S3 than an aluminum S4. I can’t handle scratches on a watch face.
I guess I'm the dd one out then - I have had aw2, 3 and now 4 and always a flawless display when reselling the aw3 and 2. Maybe I'm more careful, idk
 

TH55

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Nov 5, 2011
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From my understanding the sapphire display on the Stainless Steel is more resistant to scratches but is a little more prone to cracking as it's not the gorilla glass, or is perhaps some kind of laminate or something different. I would go for aluminum if you're likely to crack it, because if you've slammed that one a few times before it broke you might have been replacing it a lot sooner with SS. I put a hairline down the right side of my Series 0 almost two years ago and just replaced it yesterday when my Series 4 arrived. I was lucky on crack placement but got it just from nicking the edge of my stainless steel refrigerator door handle while walking by. Only downside I noticed was that I had to be more careful getting it wet.

If I were you and wanting to not spend too much but still in a position where I needed a new Apple Watch, I would go for the Series 4 in aluminum. The bigger display really does make that much of a difference. I also saw somewhere that the RAM is bumped from 768MB to 1GB which means it can hold onto apps longer for smoother multitasking, and is probably why it supports more complications on the new faces. As for the stainless steel, I did buy it again, in the 44mm size, because I have always had stainless steel watches and like the look and feel of it. But it is also my intention to only upgrade my Apple Watch every three years, as I did with the original, and I get the feeling that this one is going to be a lot better off three years from now than my Series 0 was. I'm also hoping that Apple has somehow made the Sapphire a little stronger since we are now on the fourth iteration.
What is so much better about the S4 over the S3 besides the screen size?
 

Farrellcollie

macrumors 6502a
Apr 23, 2011
521
176
I did not think so. I had the gold ss and returned it for the black aluminum one. My aluminum 3 that I got on launch last year doesn't have any scratches on it. I tend to bust crystals more than scratch them so that was a consideration for me.
 

PaladinGuy

macrumors 6502a
Sep 22, 2014
604
271
I guess I'm the dd one out then - I have had aw2, 3 and now 4 and always a flawless display when reselling the aw3 and 2. Maybe I'm more careful, idk
Who knows. You may just be fortunate. I’ve worn watches for a very long time, and every watch I’ve ever owned without a sapphire crystal ends up scratched eventually. I am extremely careful with my things. It only takes one time walking through a door, picking up a child, reaching for something, etc. Your wrist is just more likely to bump things. That’s why I’ve stuck with the stainless steel Apple watches.

Either way, I’m glad it’s worked out well for you. I am tempted to get an aluminum next time because I think they’re moving prices up too high, but we’ll see.
 

macduke

macrumors G4
Jun 27, 2007
10,939
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Central U.S.
What is so much better about the S4 over the S3 besides the screen size?
Well, here is a full list of all improvements, from what I can tell:
  • 40mm display is 35% larger than 38mm, 44mm display is 32% larger than 42mm
  • 1GB RAM vs 768MB for better multitasking
  • First 64-bit processor in an Apple Watch with twice the performance for better future proofing
  • Two new infographic watch faces for more information at a glance
  • The fire/water/liquid metal faces look better, IMO, on Series 4 because they go edge to edge
  • 50% louder speaker
  • Microphone moved to the right for better call quality
  • Built-in ECG (coming soon after final FDA approval)
  • Now notifies you of abnormally low heart rates and atrial fibrillation, potentially warning you of an impending heart attack or other cardiological problems
  • The new crown is a lot smoother in rotation and has haptic feedback. It's one of those weird things you have to try yourself to understand.
  • Fall detection with improved accelerometer and improved gyroscope
  • Improved LTE antenna that works through case bottom now in addition to top for better signal strength
  • W3 chip and bluetooth 5.0 for faster/further data transmission to iPhone 8/X or newer, which also have 5.0. I suspect that the new AirPods will have a W3 chip in addition to the wireless charging case, which may extend their range and battery life.
  • 16GB capacity standard (only on cellular Series 3 or better)
  • Ceramic and sapphire back standard (only on SS previously), which has more of a premium feel and I believe is necessary for the ECG
  • Gold colorway on SS model for the first time
  • It's ~6% thinner, though slightly larger in width and height, equaling the same volume as Series 3.
So you have to see if any of those features/preferences are worth it for you to spend a little more to upgrade to the Series 4. Having just come from a Series 0, I can tell you that the display makes it all worth it. If I already had a perfectly good working Series 3 I'd have not upgraded and waited a year, but if I was forced to upgrade then it would be a no brainer for me. You also have to take into consideration how long you expect to own this watch and software updates, etc, which don't seem like they last quite as long as the iPhone does nowadays. Just look at the 5S and how it has been getting longer updates since it's a 64-bit processor, and the Series 4 now has a 64-bit processor. Furthermore, having a fresh battery from a non-used device is also a nice bonus.

Anyway, hopefully this helps you come to a conclusion about which watch you should purchase.
 

TH55

macrumors 68040
Original poster
Nov 5, 2011
3,132
122
Well, here is a full list of all improvements, from what I can tell:
  • 40mm display is 35% larger than 38mm, 44mm display is 32% larger than 42mm
  • 1GB RAM vs 768MB for better multitasking
  • First 64-bit processor in an Apple Watch with twice the performance for better future proofing
  • Two new infographic watch faces for more information at a glance
  • The fire/water/liquid metal faces look better, IMO, on Series 4 because they go edge to edge
  • 50% louder speaker
  • Microphone moved to the right for better call quality
  • Built-in ECG (coming soon after final FDA approval)
  • Now notifies you of abnormally low heart rates and atrial fibrillation, potentially warning you of an impending heart attack or other cardiological problems
  • The new crown is a lot smoother in rotation and has haptic feedback. It's one of those weird things you have to try yourself to understand.
  • Fall detection with improved accelerometer and improved gyroscope
  • Improved LTE antenna that works through case bottom now in addition to top for better signal strength
  • W3 chip and bluetooth 5.0 for faster/further data transmission to iPhone 8/X or newer, which also have 5.0. I suspect that the new AirPods will have a W3 chip in addition to the wireless charging case, which may extend their range and battery life.
  • 16GB capacity standard (only on cellular Series 3 or better)
  • Ceramic and sapphire back standard (only on SS previously), which has more of a premium feel and I believe is necessary for the ECG
  • Gold colorway on SS model for the first time
  • It's ~6% thinner, though slightly larger in width and height, equaling the same volume as Series 3.
So you have to see if any of those features/preferences are worth it for you to spend a little more to upgrade to the Series 4. Having just come from a Series 0, I can tell you that the display makes it all worth it. If I already had a perfectly good working Series 3 I'd have not upgraded and waited a year, but if I was forced to upgrade then it would be a no brainer for me. You also have to take into consideration how long you expect to own this watch and software updates, etc, which don't seem like they last quite as long as the iPhone does nowadays. Just look at the 5S and how it has been getting longer updates since it's a 64-bit processor, and the Series 4 now has a 64-bit processor. Furthermore, having a fresh battery from a non-used device is also a nice bonus.

Anyway, hopefully this helps you come to a conclusion about which watch you should purchase.
Thanks for the informative response!
 
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Lennyvalentin

macrumors 65816
Apr 25, 2011
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I'm just worried it will feel more heavy than the aluminum model I'm used to, is this the case or does it feel nicer?
Depends on your personal taste. Stainless is a bit heavier as mentioned, not that much. The "premium feel" is in peoples' heads though (because you know, more expensive = exclusive), as most other Apple products are made of brushed aluminium and glass, and not stainless steel and sapphire. :p

The aluminium watch has some advantages too, perhaps chiefly that the display is higher contrast due to higher brightness and lower reflectivity. Lighter weight is appreciated amongst those who work out and run a lot, and so on. Lower weight also gives stronger haptic feedback, and ion-x glass is said to be more impact resistant than sapphire, although I've not seen any actual scientific testing backing that up.

Didn't they change the physical design of the watch? It looks a lot rounder, I prefer the more square look of the 1-3.
It's a little bit more rounded, yes. This is likely the future though, I doubt Apple will return to the old shape due to need to maintain space for components/battery while shaving off thickness... You best get used to liking it, because even an S3 won't stay modern and up to date forever. :)

Anyhow, I'd strongly recommend the S4 even with its more rounded corners, because the improvements just are THAT massive. The S3 has a very fast SoC compared to OG watch, but the S4 is noticeably faster even than the S3! S4 watch runs maps app more fluidly; whereas the S3 hiccups now and then and loads data slower the S4 just rockets around the map very smoothly, very fluidly. It's great. (Maps is probably the most demanding app I know of for the watch, so it's a good informal benchmark.) The improved speaker has been mentioned, there's the improved haptic motor, which is of the same type as used in the iphone 7 onwards, meaning you get feedback that ranges from strong pulses to very short, well-defined ticks. The old motor could not do this. Feels great on the wrist btw.

And of course if you're at all thinking at LTE wireless the choice is practically made from you from the start. The S3 is borderline usable from that perspective, it has poor reception and gulps battery juice like a thirsty camel. S4 is described as muchly improved.
 
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stanman64

macrumors 6502a
Jul 9, 2010
749
751
Anecdotal, but my SS Series 2 was much, much more durable than my aluminum Series 0. My Series 0 screen had scratches and even a small crack from accidentally banging it against a drywall wall inside. I banged my Series 2 all the time and the screen was still flawless. Obviously SS also has more heft to it which makes it feel a lot nicer IMO. Add in the extra shine and it's totally worth it.
 

willentrekin

macrumors regular
Jun 12, 2013
236
167
US
I had an aluminum S0 I upgraded to an SS2. I didn't realize the SS2 screen had a hairline crack when I first bought it. It was otherwise totally functional.

It was heavier, for sure. One thing I noticed, though, was that notifications didn't seem as strong. I sometimes missed them. One of the primary reasons I use AW at all is for the alarm feature every morning.

From what I can tell, because aluminum is lighter than SS, notification vibrations seem stronger. When I noticed the crack, I upgraded from the SS2 to the Aluminum 3 (in black). And it has felt noticeably better, in terms of both notifications and the effort it took to interact with the screen. "Dismiss all" for my notifications, for example, seems to require much less of a press.

All that said, I'm strongly considering an SS4, because they just look gorgeous. I'm waiting until the XR is in stores to decide my upgrades for this year.
 
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