How to Choose the Apple Watch Model That’s Right for You

What’s the difference between the three Apple Watch models, and which one is right for you?

If you’ve been shopping around for the Apple Watch lately — or you’ve been to a store to try one out — no doubt you’ve had a little trouble choosing a model. Other than the price, it’s not easy to pick out what’s different about the three Apple Watch versions: Watch, Sport and Edition.

We’re going to take a closer look at them all, to help you decide which one fits your lifestyle.

Comparing the Apple Watch Models

Aside from the obvious physical differences – like a solid gold case – it’s not easy to spot what makes an Apple Watch Edition more expensive than an Apple Watch Sport.

If you haven’t done any research, that’s okay. We’re going to explore each variant of the Apple Watch in more detail to help you decide which one is a better choice for you. Just because the Apple Watch Sport is cheapest doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the worst model, given your needs and preferences.

When deciding which to purchase, there are two main things to consider:

  • Price
  • Appearance

All three of the Apple Watch models are the same internally.

Apple Watch Versions

You get 8GB of internal storage (with a limit of 2GB for music and 75MB for photos), and up to 18 hours of battery life on a single charge. All models are running a unique version of iOS, compatible with iPhones gen 5 and up.

The prices range from $349 all the way up to $17,000.

You’ll also want to consider the watch’s appearance. While the appearance might seem trivial, it becomes apparent when you’re choosing between a rubber-like, metal or leather band.

Moreover, all three of the watch models come available in two sizes: 38mm and 42mm. This is also referred to as the “case size”. Basically, this is the size of the watches’ face.

The size and model you choose determines what materials the case will be comprised of.

Apple Watch premium edition rose gold


Let’s take a closer look at the three Apple Watch models and compare them.

Apple Watch Sport

Apple Watch Sport blue bandThe Apple Watch Sport is for fitness buffs and those with a tighter budget.

It includes an aluminum case or body, and Apple’s unique Ion-X glass display. It is the only model that comes with this display. Some even say it’s the best display of the bunch.

The stock version comes with a “fluoroelastomer” (synthetic rubber) sport band, but you can always swap it out if you’d like something different. The bands come in several colors — including neon — but you can also choose black or white if you’d like to avoid flashy stuff.

The smaller size Apple Watch Sport (38mm) is $349, while the larger size (42mm) is $399.

Apple Watch

The mid-range model is simply called the Apple Watch — some have taken to calling it the Apple Watch Basic or Classic, but neither of those names were given by Apple. It includes a stainless steel case — instead of aluminum in the Sport model — and sapphire crystal glass over the display.

There’s also a nice little black accent on the digital crown — the knob on the side of the watch.

Apple Watch BasicPrices start at $549 depending on the size and band style you choose, and top out at $1,099.

The cheapest variant comes with the same fluoroelastomer band as the Apple Watch Sport. You can also choose from the following bands:

  • Stainless Steel Finish
    • Classic Buckle
    • Modern Buckle
    • Leather Loop
  • Stainless Steel
    • Milanese Loop (mesh-like material)
    • Link Bracelet

This gives you 14 different band options in total for the Apple Watch (Basic) model–more than the Sport or Edition.

The biggest difference between the Apple Watch Sport and the Apple Watch (Basic) is that the Sport doesn’t look as good with the stainless steel bands. The Apple Watch (Basic) was specifically designed to be used with them.

That said, you will pay a higher price for appearance alone, unless you consider the fact that stainless steel is much more durable than aluminum.

Apple Watch Edition

Apple Watch EditionFinally, we have the most expensive model of the bunch — the Apple Watch Edition. Prices start at $10,000 and range up to $17,000 depending on the case size and band you choose.

The Edition model is absolutely stunning, but that’s because it comes with either a solid yellow or rose gold case. Similar to the Apple Watch (Basic), it comes with a Sapphire Crystal display.

That’s it! Other than appearance, it’s exactly the same as the cheapest model.

As for bands, you can choose between the Sport Band, and Modern or Classic Buckles.

Apple Watch Bands

One of the biggest choices to make is the band. Because there are so many, we’re going to list each of them below and describe what makes each different.

The bands are compatible with all models of the Apple Watch. However certain bands only come available in one of the two case size options. Again, 38mm and 42mm. Additionally, each band has different wrist sizes.

In the end, you may have to choose a band that feels more comfortable on your wrist, over one that looks better. If you’re not sure what size to choose, check out Apple’s comprehensive Watch sizing guide.

1. Modern Buckle: The Modern Buckle is made of leather and comes in four colors: brown, black, soft pink and midnight blue. Unfortunately, it’s only available for the 38mm version of the Apple Watch, yet it comes in three sizes:

  • Small: Fits wrists 135mm to 150mm
  • Medium: Fits wrists 145mm to 165mm
  • Large: Fits wrists 160mm to 180mm

Apple Watch Edition bright red modern buckle2. Leather Loop: The Leather Loop is made of Venezian leather and comes in four colors: stone (grey), light brown, black and bright blue. Unfortunately, it’s only available for the 42mm version of the Apple Watch, yet it comes in two sizes:

  • Medium: Fits wrists 150mm to 185mm
  • Large: Fits wrists 180mm to 210mm

3. Milanese Loop: The Milanese Loop — or mesh stainless band — is one-size-fits-all, with a different option for each of the case sizes.

  • 38mm: Fits wrists 130mm to 180mm
  • 42mm: Fits wrists 150mm to 200mm

Apple Watch multiple models4. Link Bracelet: The Link Bracelet, is more akin to a traditional stainless link band that you’d see on other watches. It is also one-size-fits-all, with an option for each case size:

  • 38mm: Fits wrists 135mm to 195mm
  • 42mm Fits wrists 140mm to 205mm

5. Classic Buckle: The Classic Buckle is a plain leather band, that also happens to be one-size-fits-all. There are two options, one for each case size:

  • 38mm: Fits wrists 125mm to 200mm
  • 42mm: Fits wrists 145mm to 215mm

6. Sport Band: The Sport Band is made of a synthetic rubber-like material which Apple has dubbed fluoroelastomer. It comes in two sizes— small/medium, and medium/large—and you get both if you order this band style. There are several colors to choose from: Black with space grey stainless steel pin, black, white, pink, blue and green.

  • 38mm: Small/medium fits wrists 130mm to 180mm; Medium/large fits wrists 150mm to 200mm
  • 42mm: Small/medium fits wrists 140mm to 185mm; Medium/large fits wrists 160mm to 210mm
Band NameSize OptionsCompatible WithColor
Modern BuckleSmall, medium, large38mmBrown, black, soft, pink, midnight blue
Leather LoopMedium, Large42mmStone, light brown, black, bright blue
Milanese LoopOne-size-fits-all38mm, 42mmStainless steel (mesh)
Link BraceletOne-size-fits-all38mm, 42mmStainless steel
Classic buckleOne-size-fits-all38mm, 42mmBlack
Sport BandSmall/medium, Medium/large38mm, 42mmBlack with space grey pin, black, white, pink, blue, green

Which Apple Watch Model Should I Buy?

Now that you understand the difference between the three models it’s time to make your big choice. If you feel nervous, you’re not alone. Making a big purchase of any kind is worrisome.

Image from AppleEven a seasoned techie – like me – has trouble plopping down a big pile of cash, no matter how much I want something.

We recommend going with the Apple Watch Sport, unless you’d rather splurge for one of the stainless steel options.

The Sport edition doesn’t look as good with the stainless steel bands, because it was designed for the colorful fluoroelastomer ones. That doesn’t mean you can’t buy the Sport and then swap out your band for a stainless steel one, because you certainly can.

Without sounding too cynical, you’ll be paying a much higher price for appearance alone. If you don’t have a style preference between the three models then stick with the Sport edition.

It’s also worth adding that this is a first generation device, and that means you can expect it to be replaced/outdated in a couple years, maybe even one year at the earliest.

It’s okay to get on board now, but if you spring for the most expensive model right away there’s more of a chance you’ll regret it later.

Then again, that all depends on how you feel and why you’re purchasing an Apple Watch in the first place.

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About The Author

Briley Kenney

Briley Kenney is a young tech enthusiast who enjoys all things electronic and gadget related. Currently, Briley writes for a plethora of professional websites including Vulgamer, SmartWatches, and a prominent SEO company. Recently, he served as a valuable member of the Little Killerz dev team writing in-game content and generating a web portal for the indie gem Tales of Illyria and it's two sequels Beyond the Iron Wall, and Destinies. The team is currently working on additional content for the third title.