Here’s our breakdown of every Apple Watch model, finish, and band available now

Apple Watch buying guide
Prykhodov/123RF

The Apple Watch Series 3 was unveiled last summer with features like LTE cellular connectivity, speedy Wi-Fi, and a long-lasting battery, making it Apple’s most refined interpretation of a smartwatch yet.

But there isn’t just one Apple Watch Series 3. After discontinuing the Apple Watch Series 2, Apple also kept the Apple Watch Series 1 around at a reduced price. The sheer number of models, finishes, and bands can make choosing a new Apple Watch a challenging task. To help simplify things, we’ve put together a guide to every Apple Watch currently available.

Apple Watch models

There are two basic versions of the Apple Watch: The Apple Watch Series 1 and the Apple Watch Series 3. The Apple Watch Series 1 costs $250, and the Apple Watch Series 3 comes in two models: A non-LTE version for $330 and an LTE-equipped version for $400.

Apple Watch Series 3

You can buy all of the Apple Watch models now on Apple.com and anywhere the Apple Watch is sold. If you opt for the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE, you can pick up cell service for an extra fee. It varies from as little as $5 per month to add an Apple Watch to an existing phone line, up to $20 for a new number.

Here’s a quick spec comparison of the Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch Series 3.

Apple Watch Series 1

Apple Watch Series 3

Apple Watch series 3 product image

Processor S1P S3
Operating System watchOS 4 (available as update) watchOS 4
Body (Dimensions) Aluminum case

38mm

1.52 x 1.31 x 0.41 inches

42mm

1.56 x 1.43 x 0.41 inches

Aluminum case

38mm

1.52 x 1.31 x 0.45 inches

42mm

1.67 x 1.43 x 0.45 inches

Resolution (pixels) 272 x 340

390 x 312

272 x 340

390 x 312

Weight Aluminum case

38mm: 25 grams

42mm: 30 grams

Aluminum case

38mm: 26.7 grams (GPS), 28.7 grams (GPS + Cellular)

42mm: 32.3 grams (GPS), 34.9 grams (GPS + Cellular)

CPU and storage S1P dual-core processor; 8GB S3, W2 wireless chip; 8GB (GPS), 16GB (GPS + Cellular)
Screen Ion-X glass Ion-X glass (aluminum cases)

Sapphire crystal glass (stainless steel and ceramic cases)

Wireless Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.2 Cellular LTE, GPS, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth 4.2
Waterproofing Splash resistant only Waterproof up to 50 meters
Display  1st-gen OLED Retina display with Force Touch 2nd-gen OLED Retina display with Force Touch
Price $250 $330 (GPS), $400 (GPS + Cellular)

There are a few differences between the Apple Watch Series 1 and Apple Watch Series 3 worth noting.

The Apple Watch Series 3 adds LTE connectivity, which means it can stand in for your iPhone. You can make and receive calls, stream from Apple Music’s catalog of more than 40 million songs and radio stations, and chat with friends over WeChat and iMessage, all without the need to bring your phone along.

The Apple Watch Series 3 also packs a dual-core processor that’s 70 percent more efficient (compared to the Apple Watch Series 2), a Wi-Fi chip (the W2) that’s faster while drawing significantly less power, and a display that’s twice as bright (up to 1,000 nits). And for good measure, the Series 3 throws in an altimeter that measures the verticality of stairs, slopes, and ski runs.

What does all that mean if you’re buying a new Apple Watch? If you live an active lifestyle that involves a lot of running and walking and you don’t want to carry your phone around all the time, then you’re probably going to want to buy the Series 3. The same’s true if you’re a speed demon who wants the absolute fastest and longest-lasting Apple Watch on the market. But if you don’t need a cutting-edge processor and don’t care about a cellular connection, you might be better off saving a little cash and sticking to the Apple Watch Series 1.

Apple Watch sizes and finishes

Once you’ve chosen the device you want to go with, you’re going to need to pick a size: 38 millimeter or 42 millimeter. The right choice depends on the size of your wrist.

You’ll notice when you go to the Apple Watch website, there’s more to choose from than simply Series 1 or Series 3. The Apple Watch doesn’t just come in different sizes and hardware — it also comes in different materials, some of which are exclusive to individual models. Below is a rundown of the finishes available for each device.

Apple Watch Series 1 Apple Watch Series 3 Apple Watch Nike+ Apple Watch Hermès Apple Watch Edition
Silver Aluminum
Gold Aluminum
Space Gray Aluminum
Space Black Stainless Steel
White Ceramic
Gray Ceramic

As you can see, the Apple Watch Nike+ and the Apple Watch Hermès are pretty much just variations of the Apple Watch Series 3 — we’ll talk more about what sets them apart in the “bands” section. It’s worth noting that the Nike+ model has an exclusive Run Club app, which offers audio-guided tours and fitness-oriented social features.

The Apple Watch Edition, meanwhile, is made from a strengthened ceramic. In fact, Apple says the device is four times as strong as the stainless-steel version. (The Edition line used to include actual gold-plated Apple Watches, but those have gone the way of the dodo.)

Apple Watch bands

Part of customizing the Apple Watch is changing the band, but not all bands are available for all Apple Watch models. In fact, part of what makes certain models unique is their band.

Below is a quick table outlining which bands you can get for which device, as well as our guide to the best Apple Watch bands you can buy right now.

Apple Watch Series 1 Apple Watch Series 3 Apple Watch Nike+ Apple Watch Hermès Apple Watch Edition
Sport

 

Woven Nylon
Leather
Stainless Steel
Nike Sport  ✓
Hermès

There are two Apple Watch models that are differentiated based mostly on their bands: The Nike+ and the Hermès.

The Nike+ Apple Watch’s Sport Loop is lighter than other Apple Watch bands thanks to rows of perforations, which make it more breathable and comfortable.

The Apple Watch Hermès’ bands, on the other hand, are more about fashion. They’re made of classy brown leather, and feature an array of unique buckle designs. Two new watchband designs introduced alongside the Apple Watch Series 3 include the Single Tour Rallye (in perforated Gala calfskin), and the Single Tour Eperon d’Or (in printed Gala calfskin).

Not to be outdone by the Nike+ and Hermès models, the Apple Watch Edition has its own exclusive bands: Two new two-toned ssports bands.

So which one should I get?

Before you make a decision, there’s one more table you need to see — the pricing table.

Apple Watch Series 1 Apple Watch Series 3 Apple Watch Series 3 LTE Apple Watch Nike+ Apple Watch Hermès Apple Watch Edition
Base price $250 $330 $400 $330 $1,150 $1,300

It’s important to keep in mind that the prices above are base prices. The Apple Watch Series 3, for example, only costs $330 if you get the sports band. Spring for the woven nylon band and you’ll pay $400 and up. If you opt for the leather band, you’ll have to shell out even more.

Still trying to decide which Apple Watch to get? For the average Joe, the Apple Watch Series 1 is going to be fine. But if you’re sold on the Apple Watch Series 3’s LTE connectivity and faster processor, you’ll probably find it worth the extra premium.

It’s a little unfortunate that bands cost so much because the sports bands may not fit well, for example, with a suit and tie. If you’re more fashion conscious and want the device to fit in with your outfits, you’re going to need to shell out a little more dough — likely $600-plus if you’re fine with Apple’s standard leather band, or more than $1,000 if you really want the Hermès name. Finally, if you’re captivated by that ceramic look and have an extra $1,000 lying around, you could get the Apple Watch Edition.

Alternatively, you could always check out third-party watch bands for your Apple Watch, and save yourself some money.

If you’re still undecided, you may want to check out the Apple Watch Series 4 rumors to find out what might be landing later this summer.

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