Apple Watch 42mm vs 38mm 1

Apple Watch Sport collection vs Apple Watch Sport, Milanese Loop vs Leather loop. There are lots and lots of choices when it comes to configuring an Apple Watch. There are even two sizes to choose from—38mm and 42mm.

Choice is good, and there’s certainly a lot of decisions to make when it comes to Apple Watch configuration. But when it comes to size, I would recommend the 42mm. Unless you have really small fingers, and a really small wrist, I think that you should at least try on the 42mm version to test it out.

Why am I so high on the 42mm Apple Watch? It’s because I’ve tried them both. At first I didn’t think that the difference would be that big of a deal, but after going hands on with both, I’m leaning more heavily towards recommending the larger version

Apple Watch 42mm vs 38mm 2

The bigger touch targets of the 42mm (left) versus the 38mm

Why do I prefer the 42mm Apple Watch? Due to the larger screen size, the tap targets, or touchable elements on screen are discernibly bigger in some scenarios. On a screen this small, every little bit counts, and although the difference is only 4mm, it makes a difference. You’ll also find that you can fit more text on screen at once, which makes a difference. That means less scrolling and swiping.

Apple Watch 42mm vs 38mm 4

The 42mm (left) places more text on screen

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t dislike the 38mm due to looks, I just find that the extra real estate makes the 42mm version easier on the eyes in some cases; it’s easier to tap on screen elements.

Apple Watch 42mm vs 38mm 3

The 42mm (left) places more options on screen at once

If there’s any way that you can get by with the 42mm version, do it. To me, it’s worth the extra $50, and hey, you might even get better battery life according to Apple.

What do you think? Which watch are you currently rocking? If you’ve yet to get one, which one have you ordered? Sound off down below with your thoughts and opinions.

  • Rupinder

    I wanted the 42mm, but my wrists aren’t that big and I really really hate big watches that tug on my clothing or just stick out. I keep noticing it and it gets uncomfortable. So I went with the 38mm SpaceGrey Sport and I absolutely love it.

    • Jake Platt

      I’m glad I read this comment because I have a 38mm on the way tomorrow because much like you I didn’t want something too big and bulky. But I’ve been reading everywhere that the 42mm is generally a better experience and few people have actually said the 38mm is great. This gives me faith in my decision to go smaller!

      • Rupinder

        I prefer a better look and more comfortable feel over a bigger screen. Also why I went with the iPhone 6 haha

      • Fanboy 

        I did a try on at the Apple Store that Friday because I too have veryyy small wrists. However, the 38mm was ridiculously small. The screen without a doubt looked tiny even on my wrist. So I’m glad I had ordered the 42mm. It is not as big as people say it is. Heck, I had someone tell me the other day why I got the “smaller version” even though its the 42mm lol. Even for small wrists the 42 is perfect. The 38 would literally fit my little sister maybe.

    • f1ght3r

      you know what they say about guys with small watches…

      • Byron C Mayes

        That they’re not compensating for anything?

    • I used apple store app and it shows the actual size. So I can measure it with my hand. 38 watch is still big for my wrists. LOL

      • Rupinder

        You’re going to love it. I can’t imagine my workflow without it.

      • I just got my Apple Watch. I’m happy with 38mm version

  • Jamessmooth

    I agree, Jeff. My wrists are pretty small, and I was worried the 42mm would be too big. But it isn’t. Even guys with small wrists should consider the 42mm… At least try it on first. It really isn’t super big in person. And that extra screen real estate is awesome too.

  • Just wish they’d hurry up and send mine already. Ordered the 42mm Steel black sport band on the 10th 2 mins after preorders started and people ordered after me and have already gotten there’s. Apple did a poor, poor job with the roll out of the Apple Watch. They should have waited a little long to have enough supply before doing preorders. Just got my spare charging cord today, and still no watch! But I agree, the 42 is better in terms of display.

  • Abhinav

    Jeff, how you took screenshots from your Watch ?

    • Press the side button and Digital Crown at the same time.

      • Abhinav


  • George

    The fact that the watch has a pass lock is strange as hell? How annoying is that going to be.

    • [RΞCØИ1]

      The passcode lock feature is only when you’re not wearing your watch and I believe if your watch isn’t paired with your phone. Once I put my watch on in the morning, I enter in my passcode once and that’s it.
      It may seem strange but think about it, if you misplace your watch or it gets stolen, someone can’t access your personal information without the code. Just like your phone.

  • [RΞCØИ1]

    I had decided on the 42mm sports from the start. I was worried though about the size since I have small wrists and pictures made it look bigger. After some thought and measuring out my G-Shock (which measures out to 55.2 x 53.5 x 18.2mm / 93g) I knew I’d be good and I was. It’s even a little bit smaller than I expected and I can’t imagine even imagine the small size of the 38mm. I think they could have even made it a little bigger and it would have been ok. The pictures also made it look a lot thicker than it really is too.

  • Richard

    my 42mm sport battery is at 40% by then of my work day. 6:30am – 5:30pm not bad.

    • [RΞCØИ1]

      What was your usage? Medium to heavy? Or light to medium?

      • Richard

        medium, and heavy when i used maps. I mostly control podcast, send text with dictation, set reminders, twitter timeline. I had a moto 360 and man that thing was horrible for battery life and get really hot. it was dead by mid day.

      • [RΞCØИ1]

        And the 360 has a bigger battery doesn’t it?
        So far I’ve only done very light usage but after about 12-13 hours I’m still at like 73%

  • Malik Davis

    For those Apple watch early adopters, Have you felt as if you’re not checking your phone every so often anymore?

    • [RΞCØИ1]

      For the most part, yeah. My phone usually is glued to my hand. Now I know I can leave it in my room or in my pocket when I’m out and not have to worry about checking my phone a ton to see if I missed anything. And that’s saying a lot for me since I usually have my head burried in my phone. Lol.

      • Malik Davis

        How far can they actually be separated and the watch still retains functionality ?

      • [RΞCØИ1]

        I forget what the exact Bluetooth range is but that’s pretty standard for anything Bluetooth. But I believe if you’re on the same wifi network, that Bluetooth range doesn’t matter. Your phone and watch can still communicate.

      • John

        Don’t forget, your Apple Watch will remember your wifi networks.

        Forget your phone at home and if you’re in a known wifi network, still have connection to it.

        Apple Watch is a smart little device.

  • Andrew Michael Hipskind

    Can you find your iPhone with your watch yet or visa versa?

    • Jepp, the Apple Watch has a build in feature to find you iPhone. You press a button on the watch and the iPhone starts to ring

  • Charles

    I wanted the 42mm but I picked up the 38mm stainless steel with loop at the only place in the U.S. Selling it. I have a small wrist so the 38mm is good for me. And since its first Gen I didn’t want to spend to much on it. Next gen I will be going with the 42mm

  • Valinor

    Lol Jeff, so you decided to go with the 42mm. I remember you were leaning towards the 38mm before the watch came out 😛
    I wanted the 42mm, but decided not to get one at all. Dont feel like spending 450 euros on something that lacks so much basic functions.
    Maybe next year.

  • 2EyesWideOpen2

    A high maintenance iwatch? No thanks. I shouldn’t have to think about recharging my watch at the end of the day. I actually prefer to have a big iPhone 6 in my hand. It’s the perfect workout size for a man, and I don’t have to squint and fumble…ever.

  • drewjbx

    how does the watch function without having iphone in your pocket. I know most people always have phones with them at all times but is the iwatch ‘too’ dependant on the iphone for most of the best uses?

  • Stalin

    I just received mine. It’s a space gray black 42mm. Estimated shipping. May13-24. The 42mm look kind of small. I thought it would be bigger. All my regular watches are 42-48mm. I’m 6’3″ 215lbs. I didn’t think it would look that small on me.

  • joe

    Great review!

    I have been looking for an objective clear article for 10 minutes til I found this.

  • cestasol7

    hmm great reviews i like this

  • Crystal Wolfe

    I have the 42mm black S1, but am going to get a second rose gold S2 just not sure which size. I love the larger screen for tapping & viewing, I even get the large screen with my iPhone. I have really small wrists though & I wonder if the sensor is measuring correctly since it seems a little loose with the larger size & the 42mm is as wide as my wrist lol?

  • highfly720

    There should be a 48mm version iWatch.