Scratching versus Shattering lowdown

Discussion in 'Apple Watch' started by thatsmyfish, Oct 9, 2018.

  1. thatsmyfish macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2009
    #1
    Hi all,

    Making the decision to upgrade my SO silver aluminum this morning. Owned it since release, so 3.5 years. Minor screen scratches and a couple of minor screen dings, but I’ve been mostly lucky. I have a child now so I’m constantly crawling around here and there so my usage has changed somewhat.

    My understanding is the SS will not scratch, or is very likely not to do so, but is less resilient than aluminum and may shatter, specifically if dropped on a hard surface. I know I’ve swung my arms and whacked my aluminum on a door jam and dropped it a few times (memory serves always on carpet.). I’ve also seen reviews here that the sapphire is not of very high quality.

    My question, for those who live on these boards and have seen these questions and statements a thousand times, what’s the deal? Is the SS a much better value and once in a while cracks, and the aluminum is highly scratchable and I’ve gotten lucky, or are you swapping roughly equal chance of scratching to cracking/shattering and you have to baby them all?

    I am firmly in the camp of being willing to shell out a couple of hundred more for a better product.

    Thanks all.
     
  2. Knowlege Bomb macrumors 603

    Knowlege Bomb

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    Madison, WI
    #2
    I wouldn't say the aluminum watches are "highly scratchable". The Ion-X glass is more prone to scratches than the sapphire screen but the stainless steel body is much more easy to scratch than the aluminum.

    I started with the stainless steel version but couldn't justify paying an extra $300+ for a shinier watch. In my use case, I've knocked into things including walls, handrails, door frames and filing cabinets more times than I can count and generally end up with a couple of minor scratches over time but I feel like a sapphire crystal probably would have been cracked several times over the course of my time with my watches (S0, S1, S3 and now S4).
     
  3. tromboneaholic Suspended

    tromboneaholic

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    Clearwater, FL
    #3
    You seem to be taking about the display versus the cases.

    Sapphire is more brittle but more resistant to scratches. That's the crystal used on the SS watches.

    Keep in mind that SS watches do not hold their value when it comes to resale.
     
  4. thatsmyfish thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2009
    #4
    I likely would hand it down rather than resell it so resale isn’t an issue. I have minor scratches on my present case and while I would spend more to have it be significantly more durable, I’m concerned as the first responder himted that the brittle trade off may be more significant to daily use and not just an extreme case. Is that a fair way to look at it? Aluminum is very susceptible to screen scratches and case dings but stainless has a significantly more durable case and (significant? risk of a brittle screen fracture, once in a blue moon if I abuse it risk?)

    I’d rather have a minor scratch than crack a brittle screw. I’m just trying to weigh how comparatively likely that would be.
     
  5. Olivia23 macrumors 6502a

    Olivia23

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    #5
    I have the SS Apple Watch Series 2 and just recently my screen has a faint scrape mark on the side. The SS has a slight scratch but I'm not worried because you can buff out those, just not the glass. I've had it for almost 2 years now.
     
  6. thatsmyfish thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2009
    #6
    A scratch, not a crack?
     
  7. Olivia23 macrumors 6502a

    Olivia23

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    #7
    That is so true about holding their value. I was shocked at what Apple wanted for my series 2 SS! No thanks, I'll keep it.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 9, 2018 ---
    It doesn't even look like a scratch. It looks like a rub mark but it will not come out. Like I said it's on the side of the glass so it's hard to see.
     
  8. thatsmyfish thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2009
    #8
    And to clarify the point, I have faint scratches on the ion glass that are noticeable if I hold it up to the light, but not in daily use. I know I am fortunate and could have scraped it against the wall of a parking garage 100x. I just don’t want to trade it in for the equal chance I’ll crack the screen. Even with minor scratches on SS case I feel it looks lived in and used versus dented like an aluminum, if that makes sense.
    --- Post Merged, Oct 9, 2018 ---
    The argument being if you dropped those as aluminum less damage but more scratching in in overall use? Would you say fair to say there are daily “baby it” issues with either model and pay more for SS if you like the look better?
     
  9. scriptkitten macrumors regular

    scriptkitten

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    Jul 11, 2007
    #9
    I’ve whacked my S2 SS against all sorts of things and never had it shatter. It took a hard drop from about 5 feet out of a gym locker onto hard tile to finally bust it. AC+ replaced it free because the screen didn’t shatter... it just showed signs of becoming unglued. Then a few days later I again dropped the watch onto hardwood from a good height and the screen popped off. AC+ gave me yet another free replacement because “it didn’t shatter and loose screens are a defect”. I got lucky!!!

    Previous to that I had that S2 SS for two years and although I’d whacked it plenty, I’m actually a careful person and never dropped it before those two instances a few weeks ago.

    I now have a series 4 SS on order. I had a S0 Aluminum and the screen got scratched up. It drove me nuts. I also prefer the look of the SS
     
  10. tromboneaholic Suspended

    tromboneaholic

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    #10
    I'm on my second aluminum Watch. I like the look of the pure stainless model, but since I buy one for myself and my wife at the same time, the additional cost is difficult to justify. It makes it easier for me to upgrade 2 watches every 1 or 2 years. I imagine when it becomes more mature and updates are not as big, I will get stainless knowing I'm going to have it for 4 years to more.
     
  11. thatsmyfish thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2009
    #11
    That would make my life easier! My wife hates watches and is spending $$$ on a three day Phish vacation so I get an upgrade.
     
  12. Pseudo-Fed macrumors 6502

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    Jan 28, 2017
    #12
    Of course the sapphire screen can shatter, but it takes quite a hit under certain circumstances. My series 2 SS, which I traded on my S4 SS AND a S4 SBSS (along with trading my S3 SBSS) went through the ringer with me. I shoot pistol competitively at the Master level (very fast movements) and more than once my SS watch found itself up against the edge of a rusty, outdoor stored metal framed barricade as I fired shots (rare as it is poor technique to be against a prop). After initially freaking out, then spitting on the screen and cleaning it with my T-shirt I find all the rusty metal particles wash off and the screen is flawless. I've also banged the screen on countless wooden and metal props. The shiny metal case was not so shiny after more than a year, but a $5 cape cod cloth and 10 mins takes care of that. I actually only polished it once in preparation for sale or trade, because I think the rubs on the watch case with a flawless screen give it a used tool character. I've never dropped it on a hard floor, etc., though because my Mom taught me with my first watch to always put it on and take it off over something soft like the bed....

    Get the silver SS and AppleCare. Milanese or sport band is up to you, but you deserve the upgrade...:cool:
     
  13. iamasmith macrumors 6502

    iamasmith

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    #13
    The sapphire screens are pretty good but as with any sapphire crystal's they can be cracked.

    One issue with the Apple Watch is that the crystal is proud of the watch and not recessed into a bezel which on some watches can absorb the knocks before they hit the sapphire. This of course also contributes the the possibility of scratching the non sapphire version.

    The second issue was new, I believe, to the S3 and only effects the GSM models - I don't know if S4 is effected.

    The S4 GSM model has a laminate sapphire screen, supposed by some to be related to the installation of the GSM antenna, however it has been noted by many (myself included) to separate if given a hard knock.

    I can only go from personal experience but my first S3 got dropped on a tiled floor and landed flat face down. It then had a sharp ridge running the whole way around the face in between the edge and the top of the glass and when viewed under a strong light you could see patches that looked like some kind of glue had given way (optical resin??) that was holding the laters together,

    Needless to say I got mine replaced, thankfully on AppleCare.
     
  14. mavis macrumors 68040

    mavis

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    Tokyo, Japan
    #14
    People always talk about how the SS's sapphire display is more likely to shatter than the aluminum's Ion-X, but I've never seen pictures of a shattered sapphire display. I don't doubt that it CAN shatter, I just don't think it happens NEARLY as often as people seem to think. Lol

    What I DO see a lot of are pictures of scratches on the display - both the glass and sapphire displays. I have seen from experience that Apple's sapphire is rather low quality (has impurities or whatever, that make it more succeptible to scratches than you'd think it should be) but still, it's far more durable than the Ion-X glass. People who argue otherwise are typically aluminum Apple Watch owners who are trying to justify (or help others justify, as they have) why they chose not to spend more money on the SS Watch. And that's fine - everyone does it, with most purchases (you figure out what you're willing/able to spend, right?) but seeing the same old stale (and silly, IMO) argument is irritating. Just sayin.
     
  15. Lennyvalentin macrumors 65816

    Lennyvalentin

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    Apr 25, 2011
    #15
    I haven't seen a single scientific comparison of how glass vs. sapphire screens stack up, scratch- or crack-wise. So it's just guesswork and hearsay, really. Some yahoos have been breaking stuff for attention in youtube videos, but nonsense like that doesn't count (for obvious reasons. :))
     
  16. scriptkitten macrumors regular

    scriptkitten

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    Jul 11, 2007
    #16
    I don’t baby mine at all. And I suppose the type of damage I had would have happened regardless of the screen type? After I scratched my aluminum, you could say I babied it more because I lived in fear of more scratches. I don’t worry with my SS. Case scratches can be polished.
     
  17. JulesK macrumors 6502

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    Dec 17, 2002
    #17
    The plain stainless steel case, which is polished, will scratch over time. This isn't just the Apple Watch; it applies to $20K high-end mechanical watches. Just the nature of the material, unless you get a DLC coated watch or an entirely different case material (e.g., ceramic). The sapphire crystal on the stainless steel Watch will resist scratches better than the glass crystals in the aluminum Watches, and I've found them to be tough enough for me. I've hit an Apple watch hard enough on a ceramic tile to dent the case right next to the crystal, but with no effect on the crystal itself. I've had many other watches with sapphire crystals, and I've only managed to scratch one (and it will need to be replaces because you cannot buff it out), although I've marred the AR coatings on others. But I've banged the sapphire crystals of many watches with absolutely no ill effects. In contrast, the original Omega Moonwatch has an acrylic crystal to avoid shattering, but it scratches easy (but can be polished).

    The biggest problem with the Apple Watch and their crystals is that there is no bezel to protect the crystal. If the Watch hits anything, it's almost always going to hit the crystal. When I got the first Apple Watch (S0, I guess), I tried a screen protector (worthless) and then a detachable case/protector, to protect the crystal, but I soon decided to just let it be, and I've had no issues with the crystals. Your typical Casio G-Shock has a mineral glass crystal, but it's protected by a beefy bezel, so unless something with a relatively small tip hits the crystal, it's never going to break.
     
  18. newellj macrumors 604

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    Oct 15, 2014
    Location:
    Boston, MA, US
    #18
    Here's a couple of pictures. These come up fairly frequently on mechanical watch fora.


    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I don't think you could do that - even with traditional watches that have just the "glass" (sapphire isn't really glass) crystal, there are too many different angles and impacts. With "smartwatches," even within a single generation of a single manufacturer, it probably gets much more difficult due to the many layers of different materials that make up the display screen and the adhesives that are used to assemble them? Just guessing...
    --- Post Merged, Oct 9, 2018 ---
    I think that's a great conclusion, really. I had an aluminum S3. I use my things carefully but hard. It had no scratches in the display or case when I traded it in for an aluminum S4. This weekend I found a 44MM S4 SS and decided to return the aluminum. I love the look - it looks much smaller than the aluminum (or other SS finishes), IMO. It feels substantial, which is nice, though it's heavier when I'm working out, which might or might not be great. I figure if I trade it after a year I'll basically pay a $200 penalty, but here's the deal: I can afford it, and I am loving the look. Ask me this time next year how it worked out for me. ;) I did exactly what you wrote: I paid more because I fell in love with the look. If you like it, go for it.
     
  19. beach bum, Oct 9, 2018
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2018

    beach bum macrumors member

    beach bum

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    #19
    I’ve had both the stainless steel and the aluminum watch and used one or the other daily since the original watch, and other than minor scratches on the stainless steel I’ve noticed no damage to the watch face at all. Daily use includes working out, office work, shopping, washing dishes and cleaning around the house/car, and playing with the kids, etc. In no way have I babied either watch and they both still look good.
    Good luck with your purchase, and just enjoy it; the watch isn’t that fragile.
     
  20. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

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    Jul 12, 2016
    #20
    In general, I don’t think it’s really about the shattering resistance for either the Sapphire display or ion X Glass. When you drop a watch, the way the display breaks/shatters is based on [impact, angle and surface type]. What you really should be concerned about, is the durability against scratches and scuffs. That’s where the Sapphire display to me is absolutely imperative in terms of having some of the best protection possible, where is the Ion- X Glass is very durable, but not nearly what the sapphire is from my experience.
     
  21. thatsmyfish thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2009
    #21
    So I ended up ordering the SS 44 with the Nike band and the blue horizon band, which should be in sometime before the end of the year.

    Transition question for those who have done it. I’ve had the Series 0 aluminum for almost four years, which is about 30g. The 44 aluminum is at 36, and I believe the SS is at 48. The Nike band felt awesome on aluminum (mine is still in the box) but the Nike did feel a bit different under the strain of the stainless steel.

    I wore the SS for five minutes with the Nike band after almost four years of the aluminum. I’m sure a lot of it is getting used to it, but the aluminum was certainly more comfortable and over $300 cheaper. Do those of you using the SS recall a brief “breaking in” period for a day or so to get used to it? I’m a biggish guy so it’s not like I am dragging a ball and chain on my wrist, but curious if anyone else made that transition.
     
  22. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

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    Jul 12, 2016
    #22
    At First, you will notice the weight difference once you put the stainless on your wrist. But literally, you will adjust to the point where you don’t realize it’s even there. But I can tell you from personal experience, you will appreciate the difference with the weight of the stainless, as if feels that much more substantial and even though it’s significantly more expensive, The stainless watch really does provide that clear difference that it feels like a real ‘nice time piece’ versus just wearing a tech watch on your wrist.
     
  23. beach bum macrumors member

    beach bum

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    Oct 6, 2011
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    Philly
    #23
    My newest is the aluminum S4 44mm, but I also have the S3 SS 42mm and really notice no difference in weight between the two unless I’m wearing a heavier leather band.

    Also, you may want to check the App Store daily between 8a-9a to see if there is any new availability in your area. I was able to score the S4 over the weekend by doing this, cancelled my original order (11/2-9 delivery), and re-ordered for pickup a an hour later. Just a thought ;).
     
  24. thatsmyfish thread starter macrumors regular

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    Nov 20, 2009
    #24
    Good tip!

    I wonder as well if the Nike band is ridiculously light and that led to the issue with the heavier case. Anyone use the Nike band on SS?
     
  25. newellj macrumors 604

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    #25
    I wore the S3 aluminum for a year. I just returned an aluminum S4 yesterday for a SS S4. Yes, I did notice that it's a little heavier. No, it doesn't seem to be a problem in my daily routine, and I am very active. I've sort of stopped noticing already. BTW/FWIW, I have basically worn the Nike+ bands exclusively. Without getting into details, though I think at the end of the day there are advantages and disadvantages to both, I'm really enjoying the SS experience so far.

    Just for clarity, I'm talking about the Nike band, not the Nike loop.

    One thought from left field. If you wear the Watch loosely, so that it can flop around some (but why would you, since it would make heart readings unreliable or impossible?), the weight difference might become much more noticeable.
     

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