Both are recombinant batteries; both are sealed valve regulated.

The major difference is that the “starved” or “absorbed electrolyte” battery contains an amount of liquid electrolyte added at the factory that soaks into the special separators. Therefore, it is non-spillable because all of the liquid electrolyte is trapped in the sponge like separator material. There is no “free” electrolyte to spill if tipped or punctured.