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Coros Apex Review

A well-constructed and accurate watch with a minimalistic design, excellent battery life, and all the right features
Coros Apex
Credit: Amazon
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Price:  $300 List | $300.00 at REI
Pros:  Excellent quality, accurate, simple design, very easy to use, great feature set, very long battery life
Cons:  Backlight isn't bright, heart rate monitor accuracy is a little off
Manufacturer:   Coros
By Matthew Richardson and Amber King  ⋅  Apr 29, 2022
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#6 of 12
  • Features - 20% 6.0
  • Battery Life - 20% 6.0
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8.0
  • Accuracy - 20% 8.0
  • Design - 20% 9.0

Our Verdict

The Coros Apex is a simple design ideal for those that want the features found in bulkier models but like the idea of a slim, well-fitting watch. Perfect for those with smaller wrists, the design features the standard Coros menus and tools and recently got upgraded to include navigation features and bread-crumb mapping. The battery life is great, as with all Coros watches, and the integrated mobile application is the easiest to use out of all the major brands. If you are looking for a watch that works well in the outdoors but doesn't scream ruggedness, this could be the perfect model for you.

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Coros Apex
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Coros Apex
Awards  Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $300 List
$300.00 at REI
$399 List$298.00 at Amazon
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$199.00 at Amazon
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$199.99 at Amazon
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Pros Excellent quality, accurate, simple design, very easy to use, great feature set, very long battery lifeGood battery life, comfortable, easy to use, great valueGreat design, responsive interface, inexpensiveLow profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low costSimple, inexpensive, lightweight
Cons Backlight isn't bright, heart rate monitor accuracy is a little offLacks some toolset functions, scroll wheel has unintended clicksMinimal navigation, shorter battery life, lack of tool widgetsMinimal activity profiles, no navigation features, plastic constructionLacks premium health stats, shorter battery life
Bottom Line A well-constructed and accurate watch with a minimalistic design, excellent battery life, and all the right featuresA fully-featured GPS watch at a great price makes this one of our top recommendations for all user typesA premium-looking watch with loads of features and health metrics for a great priceA fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting great battery life at an incredible valueA basic GPS watch that will be perfect for those looking to track their activities without the advanced features of premium models or extended battery life
Rating Categories Coros Apex Coros Apex Pro Polar Vantage M2 Coros Pace 2 Garmin Forerunner 55
Features (20%)
6.0
7.0
6.0
5.0
5.0
Battery Life (20%)
6.0
7.0
7.0
7.0
5.0
Ease of Use (20%)
8.0
8.0
7.0
8.0
8.0
Accuracy (20%)
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
8.0
Design (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Specs Coros Apex Coros Apex Pro Polar Vantage M2 Coros Pace 2 Garmin Forerunner 55
Watch Face Material Sapphire glass Sapphire glass Hard-coated PMMA laminated lens Corning glass Chemically strengthened glass
Bezel Stainless steel bezel Titanium Alloy Stainless steel Fiber reinforced polymer Stainless steel
Case Alumnium Alumnium Glass fibre reinforced polyamide Fiber reinforced polymer Glass fibre reinforced polyamide
Strap Material Silicon or nylon Silicon or nylon Silicone Silicon or nylon Silicone
Tools Required to Change Band? No No No No No
Model Tested Standard Standard N/A N/A N/A
Size Tested 42mm 47mm One size only One size only One size only
Measured Main Body Size (diameter) 42mm 47mm 46mm 43mm 42mm
Measured Thickness 13mm 13.4mm 14.5mm 11mm 12.5mm
Measured Screen Width 33mm 33mm 30mm 32mm 26.5mm
Measured Weight 1.7 oz 2.0 oz 1.55 oz 1.2 oz 1.31 oz
Measured Charging Time 70 min 80 min 78 min 80 min 111 min
Battery Type Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion
Measured Battery Life With GPS On 24 hours 36 hours 38 hours 29 hours 19 hours
Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life Smartwatch mode: 25 days;
Full GPS mode: 25 hours;
UltraMax GPS Mode: 80 hours
Smartwatch mode: 30 days;
GPS mode: 40 hours;
UltraMax mode: 100 hours
GPS: 40 hours Smartwatch mode: 20 days;
GPS: 30 hours;
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
Smartwatch mode: 2 weeks;
GPS: 20 hours
Navigation Built In? Yes Yes No No No
Satellite Networks Used GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Maps? Yes - basic Yes - basic No No No
Back to Start Navigation? Yes Yes No No No
Water Resistance (max depth) 100m 100m 30m 50m 50m
Music Control? No No Yes No Yes
Music Storage? No No No No No
Daily Fitness Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touchless Payment? No No No No No
Sleep Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Blood Oxygen? No Yes No No No
Compass? Yes Yes No Yes No
Barometric Altimeter? Yes Yes No Yes No
Temperature Sensor? Yes Yes No Yes No
Main Software App Coros App Coros App Polar Flow Coros Garmin Connect, widgets for other features
Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

The Coros Apex stands out for its simple design and extended battery life. Most ultra-athletes will agree that when it comes to a design that omits the extras, this one does it best. If you desire a watch with all the essentials and nothing more, this is a great choice. Those with smaller wrists will also love the Apex.

Performance Comparison


Coros Apex gps watch - ellie topped out the major high point over santa fe, nm using the...
Ellie topped out the major high point over Santa Fe, NM using the Coros Apex.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Features


This small watch packs loads of features, the most out of any we tested in this case size. Equipped with various activity profiles and an ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass), we think this is the perfect adventure watch for those that need all but the latest and greatest. This model implements the toolbox found across all Coros watches. We wish there were a few more highlights offered that are on the Garmin models, such as find my phone and Garmin Pay, but this certainly isn't a dealbreaker.

Coros Apex gps watch - a look at the toolbox offered by coros when using the apex.
A look at the toolbox offered by Coros when using the Apex.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Navigational features are basic but satisfactory, and we often found the navigation options on the premium models a bit difficult to use anyway. We normally just pull out our phones. We wish there were a few more health metrics on the Apex, such as a sleep score, but we can't complain too much given the price.

Another look at the log with specific activities for each month.
Another look at the log with specific activities for each month.
A few of the third-party apps that the Coros syncs seamlessly with.
A few of the third-party apps that the Coros syncs seamlessly with.

The Coros app is pretty simple and easy to use, and our favorite we tested. If you are looking for a companion app with the most amount of features, Garmin Connect may suit you better. The Coros application lacks social networks, but most folks upload to third-party apps if they care about social integration. We prefer the streamlined nature of the Coros app that doesn't try to do too much.

A look at the customization options in the Coros app.
A look at the customization options in the Coros app.
This includes a training log that includes all logs and summations...
This includes a training log that includes all logs and summations of distances completed.

The Apex contains the essential features for using a GPS watch in the outdoors and is more than capable for any adventure. Increasing the price you will receive more health metrics, longer battery life, and some features like contactless payments and advanced navigation features. While these are nice, we think having just the essentials will work well for most people.

Notable Features:

  • Heart rate monitor
  • Compass
  • Thermometer
  • Alarms
  • Several activity profiles
  • Pedometer and calories burned
  • Barometer
  • Altimeter
  • Sunrise/Sunset information
  • Breadcrumb navigation
  • Course creation and upload options
  • Customizable watch faces
  • Training plan creation and workouts
  • Smart notifications
  • 20 supported workouts that you can upload from the app
  • Water resistance to 10 ATM (100 meters)

The Coros website will show you the full scope of all the features offered for the Apex.

Coros Apex gps watch - widgets are scrollable and well designed. here we see the...
Widgets are scrollable and well designed. Here we see the easy-to-read metrics of the Barometer.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Battery Life


The Coros Apex really stands out because of its incredible battery power. There are two size options with different battery life claims. We tested the 42mm, which has a lower amount of battery life than the 46mm option. Overall, it scores well in this metric for the ample amounts of juice it provides.

Coros Apex gps watch - for long adventures in the mountains, it's nice to have a watch that...
For long adventures in the mountains, it's nice to have a watch that can track all day and all night. Here we hit some high ridges during a sunny day in the San Juan mountains.
Credit: Amber King

For the 42mm face, the manufacturer claims 25 days of regular smartwatch use, 25 hours in GPS watch mode, and 80 hours in UltraMax mode. In all our tests, these numbers were confirmed, with the watch still offering the same battery life after almost a year of continued use. For the ultra-athlete, this is one we highly recommend, especially if you're out for long stints at one time.

While other options lasted longer in our GPS tests, none could hold a charge with continued use throughout an entire month. We learned that with 3 - 4 activities per week lasting 1 - 3 hours, we only had to charge the Apex once a month. Every other contender only lasted about 1.5 to 2 weeks. Boy, are we impressed.

During our GPS test, we laid the watch out with GPS running in an area with good reception. The 42mm version ran for 31 hours, capturing full statistics the whole time. During a long run, hike, and bike, we got the GPS from 100% to 0% in closer to 24 hours with all sensors turned on, just an hour less than the manufacturer claims, making it a good option for most ultradistance events.

Charging takes only 70 minutes. While you can charge the Apex during activity and still use the watch, you need to take it off, which means you can't track your heart rate. Overall, we are impressed with battery life, making this a recommendation for ultra or endurance athletes.

Ease of Use


The Apex is very simple to use right out of the box. Set-up takes only a couple of minutes, and, with the help of prompt screens, you're ready to go. The watch features one dial on the right side and a small flatter button. There is no touch screen, limiting options but ultimately making the watch easier to use. Of all options tested, this is one of the easiest to use, earning high scores in our review.

Coros Apex gps watch - the apex is less bright than other premium models which makes it a...
The Apex is less bright than other premium models which makes it a bit difficult to see, especially when under direct sunlight.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

We like the precise controls and fluidity of the scroll wheel, but we had to lock the device to prevent unintending scrolling. This one-second lock is not a dealbreaker but was more annoying than watches with less exposed dedicated buttons.

As we stated previously, the Coros app is the best we tested, and we appreciate the thoughtful design over the headache that is the Garmin Connect app. The design works well, and you aren't bombarded by widget cards and unuseful information. If you want a simple design experience, we suggest choosing a Coros model. If you largely aren't that interested in viewing the data on the app and prefer looking at your stats on third-party sites like Strava, this may not be as important to you.

Coros Apex gps watch - a side profile of the coros apex showing the singular button and...
A side profile of the Coros Apex showing the singular button and scroll wheel. We like the simplicity and easy-to-use functions controlled by these.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Fitness files can easily be shared with friends or exported as a .fit, .tcx, .gpx, .kml, or .csv file. We haven't seen this easy export with Suunto or Garmin Apps yet. While it's available on those other platforms, it's harder to find than on the Coros app, where it's just under the share setting. Updates also seem to be occurring all the time.

Accuracy


We tested the accuracy of both the GPS and heart rate monitor, and accuracy was above average for both. We did this while open water swimming, riding bikes, cross-country skiing, backcountry skiing, and trail running in some pretty remote terrain. We'd say that 99.9% of the time, we trusted the data that we got, with this being verified in our tests. This is one of the most accurate watches we've tested, earning it top marks here.

Coros Apex gps watch - here we see a zoomed-out version of a 12-mile run in a large covered...
Here we see a zoomed-out version of a 12-mile run in a large covered area with huge Ponderosa trees. From this perspective, everything looks good. The trail is a single track.
Credit: Amber King

During our three-mile GPS test on a remote road in Colorado where we compared all of the test watches, this one performed as well as the others. We found only +/- 0.01 miles of variance. All the watches we tested feature similar antenna designs and sampling rates, allowing them to easily access many different satellite options. That said, if you plan to travel in steep technical terrain, you may want to look into a dual-frequency model, which is much more precise and removes error by refracting satellite signals.

Coros Apex gps watch - when we zoom in on the track, we notice that the accuracy isn't 100%...
When we zoom in on the track, we notice that the accuracy isn't 100% (as our tracks were supposed to be on top of another), but it's close enough.
Credit: Amber King

Accuracy for the heart rate monitor had mixed results. While most wrist heart rate monitors are notoriously inaccurate, we thought that the fit of the Apex with its smaller face would help with this. However, during both our sitting tests and active tests, the variation was large, with the heart rate being off by 2 - 20 bpm. During our runs, we noticed that our heart rate always seemed a little higher than normal. Our main testers resting heart rate is close to 60 bpm, but on the Coros watch, it consistently showed a heart rate about 10 bpm higher. While we want our wrist heart rate monitors to be incredibly accurate, this is dependent on watch fit and a few other factors. If you really want an accurate measurement, be sure to use a dedicated heart rate monitor.

Design


We are big fans of this design and how well it fits many different types of wrists. As features and battery life increase, so does the watch's size, which isn't everyone's design preference. Luckily the Apex comes in two different size options, a 42mm or 46mm face.

Coros Apex gps watch - it features a simple push dial and a small flat button that acts as...
It features a simple push dial and a small flat button that acts as the backup.
Credit: Amber King

There is an auto-lock that requires a full turn before you can access the screen, or you can change this to a long press. If you turn this off, it's very easy to accidentally pause your workout, so we recommend keeping it on. This is one thing that bugs us about the Coros models — when training hard, fully unlocking the watch when the heart rate is high is frustrating.

Coros Apex gps watch - summit time using the coros apex. data fields are changeable in the...
Summit time using the Coros Apex. Data fields are changeable in the Coros App and far easier to adjust than the compeitition.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Our major complaint with this model is the less than bright screen which is often difficult to see under direct light. If you often find yourself running during mid-day, you may want to find a watch that performs better for taking quick glances. The contrast could be better, but ultimately we feel the features and battery life outweigh this negative.

Coros Apex gps watch - a look at the size of the actual screen. while we do like the design...
A look at the size of the actual screen. While we do like the design we wish it was brighter with better clarity.
Credit: Amber King

Value


If you are looking for a watch that does all the essentials extremely well at a great price, we highly recommend the Apex. Due to our travel in technical terrain, we appreciate the combination of bread crumb mapping and an on-screen compass. Coros also continues to impress with its battery life and thoughtful app design.

Conclusion


We don't think you'll be let down by the Coros Apex. We love its minimalist design, lower price, and excellent battery life. It particularly stands out for its battery life in Smart mode, requiring just about one to two charges a month, depending on GPS use. Coros is doing a great job in the watch market, and we hope that they continue making smaller models like this one so all people can feel comfortable wearing GPS watches for their activities. If you are looking to start planning more adventures and want the peace of mind of trackback, bread crumb mapping, and a compass, we don't think you can go wrong with the Apex and we highly recommend it.

Coros Apex gps watch - ellie descended back into santa fe after reaching the high point...
Ellie descended back into Santa Fe after reaching the high point over the city. She's a big fan of the Coros Apex.
Credit: Matthew Richardson

Matthew Richardson and Amber King
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