Coros Apex Review
Cons: Backlight isn't bright, heart rate monitor accuracy is a little off
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|Pros||Excellent quality, accurate, simple design, astounding value, very easy to use, great feature set, very long battery life||Low profile design, exceptional battery life, very accurate, low cost||Excellent features, downloadable workouts, access to Garmin ecosystem, small watch face, excellent accuracy, lower price||Easy to use, large fonts are easy to see, accurate heart rate, just enough features for training||Touch screen, sleek look and design, lightweight, good features, super low cost|
|Cons||Backlight isn't bright, heart rate monitor accuracy is a little off||No mountain sports or navigational features||Lacks navigation and higher end features, plastic design, battery life isn't for ultra athletes, scratches easily||Smaller screen for the size of the watch, monochromatic and dated look, lower value||Poor GPS and heart rate accuracy, limited app features, no cross-over to other software ecosystems, some activities lost upon synching|
|Bottom Line||A well-constructed and accurate watch with a minimalistic design, excellent battery life, and all the right features||A fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting out of this world battery life||This lower-priced GPS watch is easy to use and intuitive with a host of features that'll aid in moving your fitness forward||This watch is a good training option for most athletes but lacks in design and comparative value||A low-cost GPS watch with all the basic features, but lacking in accuracy and app functionality|
|Rating Categories||Coros Apex||Coros Pace 2||Garmin Forerunner 45S||Polar M430 HR||Letscom Smart Watch|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|Ease Of Use (20%)|
|Specs||Coros Apex||Coros Pace 2||Garmin Forerunner 45S||Polar M430 HR||Letscom Smart Watch|
|Watch Face Material||Sapphire glass||Corning glass||Chemically strengthened glass||Plastic scratch resistance material, actual material unknown||N/A|
|Bezel||Stainless steel bezel||Fiber reinforced polymer||Polymer||Polymer||No bezel|
|Case||Alumnium||Fiber reinforced polymer||Polymer||Polymer||Aluminum|
|Strap Material||Silicon or nylon||Silicon or nylon||Silicone||Silicone||TPU|
|Tools Required to Change Band?||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Size Tested||44 mm||One size only||39 mm||One size only||One size only|
|Measured Main Body Size (diameter or W x H)||44mm||43mm||40mm||37 x 43mm||35 x 42mm|
|Measured Screen Width||33mm||32mm||26mm||23mm||24mm|
|Measured Weight||1.7 oz||1.2 oz||1.2 oz||1.6 oz||1.2 oz|
|Measured Charging Time||70 min||80 min||130 min||90 min||90 min|
|Battery Type||Rechargable lithium ion||Rechargable lithium ion||Rechargable lithium ion||Rechargable lithium ion||Rechargable lithium ion|
|Measured Battery Life With GPS On||31 hours||38 hours||10.5 hours||7 hours||4 hours|
|Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life||Smartwatch Mode: 25 days
25 hours Hours in Full GPS Mode
80 hours in UltraMax GPS Mode
|Smartwatch Mode: 20 days
GPS: 30 hours
Ultramax Mode: 60 hours
|Smartwatch Mode: Up to 7 days
GPS mode: Up to 13 hours
|Daily training sessions: 5 days
Stand-by mode: 14 days
8 hours of GPS training time
|45 days battery saver mode
10+ days in smartwatch mode
No GPS time measurement
|Navigation Built In?||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Satellite Networks Used||GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU||GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU||GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO||GPS||GPS|
|Maps?||Yes - basic||No||No||No||No|
|Back to Start Navigation?||Yes||No||No||No||No|
|Water Resistance (max depth)||100m||50m||50m||Yes - no depth data||50m|
|Daily Fitness Tracking?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Compass?||Yes||Yes||Yes - widget||No||No|
|Main Software App||Coros App||Coros||Garmin Connect, widgets for other features||Polar||VeryFitPro|
|Can Software Cross Over to Different Software Ecosystems?||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
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.
This little watch packs in all the right features. It comes equipped to track fitness and activities while offering a few navigational capabilities. For sports, it has everything any athlete might need without being bogged down with a whole lot of extras that take weeks to figure out. That said, since it isn't the most featured watch, it earns a lower score in this metric.
The Apex has the basics and a bit more. Time, alarms, pedometer, heart rate, altimeter, compass, and GPS. It comes with 24 pre-set activities, and you can add more via the Coros app. It tracks different types of data in different profiles, including; altitude, ascent and descent, pace, distance, and more. It allows for interval training, and under each activity profile, you can optimize settings. This includes adding auto pauses, metronome, activity alerts, food or hydration alerts, and more.
Navigational features are limited as the map found on each activity is a simple bread crumb trail that shows general direction. The Coros app allows you to build courses and navigate each via your watch once it's been uploaded. It, however, doesn't contain pre-loaded map layers or the ability to pan or zoom around to different points of interest or other data points. We do like that it has the TrackBack function, helping you navigate back to your starting point, if needed.
The Coros app is pretty simple and easy to use, with the ability to create or upload workouts, see your activities, and optimize to your preferences. Activities are easy to find, and you can make exercise courses and develop training plans. Unlike the Garmin Connect app, it lacks a social ecosystem, but it syncs easily between any platform that you prefer to use for uploading activities.
Overall, we think that the features are exactly what any athlete might appreciate. Coros took the best features of any GPS watch and packed them all into this neat package. No extras that you won't be using. If you seek a heavily featured watch with full navigational capabilities, we'd recommend looking at some other options.
- Heart rate
- Several activity profiles
- Pedometer and calories burned
- 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)
Take a look at the Coros website to see the full scope of all the features offered.
Where the Coros Apex really stands out is its incredible battery power. It's amazing how much longer a watch will last without a bunch of extra stuff. There are two size options with different battery life claims. We tested the 42mm that 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.
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 to 4 activities per week lasting 1 to 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. This time was longer than the 25 hours claim. That said, in this test, the watch remained in the same location. With movement, the actual time will likely be closer to the manufacturer's claims.
Charging takes only 70 minutes. While you can charge it during activity and still use the watch, you need to take it off, which means you can't track your heart rate. This is true for all other high-end watches as well. We are still waiting for a higher-end watch with the charger on the side so you can charge in on the go while wearing it. Still, 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 2 minutes, and, with the help of prompt screens, you're ready to go. It features one dial on the right side and a small flatter button. There is no touch screen, which limits options but ultimately makes the watch easier to use. Of all options tested, this is one of the easiest to use, earning high scores in our review.
Simply turn the knob to scroll the screen up and down. This will show you basic stats and give you information on notifications, daily and weekly exercise, or whatever you customize it to show you. To start an activity, press the knob, choose the activity, and hit start. When you choose the activity, you have the option to use navigational features with it or customize specific settings for that activity profile. We like this simple set-up as it negates having to find secret menus or hidden features.
The Coros App is also quite simple, unlike the Garmin Connect App, which seems to be bursting with options. Coros puts everything you need on the main screen with additions featured in simple icons, making it easier to use. Syncing requires you to simply open the app, and the sync will start automatically. Plus, the software has thus far been flawless during our use. We have never lost an activity or had a glitch after a year of continued use.
Fitness files can easily be shared with friends or exported as a .fit, .tcx, .gpx, .kml, or .csv file. This easy export is something we haven't seen 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.
We tested the accuracy of both the GPS and heart rate monitor, and accuracy is above average for both. We tested these 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 uses a unique technology to ensure that steps aren't lost when a GPS signal is weak. No watch can track well when there isn't a clear view of the sky. Instead of "guesstimating" the distance traveled using mapping software and known distance, Coros instead uses a smart stride algorithm. This is supposed to track your relative stride when you run using GPS when it is strong and apply this relative stride when the GPS signal is weak. Over the last months of our use in poor and strong GPS zones, we always felt the distances were accurate. Even when hitting an especially thick stand of trees or descending into a canyon, data always seemed to come out relatively correct.
During our tests, we biked a known distance of 10.8 miles. We measured the distance with our car and verified it using mapping software. After the ride, our watch read 10.84 miles. Additionally, if you take a look at the tracks recorded, they are smooth and stay on the track. We tested accuracy again on a run with lots of trees and did an out and back. On this track, we saw that the tracks didn't lay over one another but were actually separated at times, even though we were on a single track. This shows accuracy isn't perfect, but it's pretty darn close.
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 accuracy. 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.
We love, love, love the design for its simplicity and low profile. Gone are the days of getting a massive watch face stuck on clothing and tighter fitting jackets or buttons accidentally getting pressed (which annoyingly pauses or ends your workout without you knowing). The Apex comes in two different size options, a 42mm or 46mm face.
That said, there is an auto-lock that requires a full turn before you can access the screen. If you turn this off, it's very easy to accidentally pause your workout, so we recommend keeping it on. We tested the 42mm face, which was an excellent size for our tester with a wrist circumference of 15mm. The strap is comfortable to wear, with the caveat of maybe not having enough holes to cinch down on some of the smallest of wrists, affecting heart rate accuracy.
The watch body measured 44mm (we included the buttons in our measurement) with a thickness of 13mm, and a screen size of 33mm. The weight is just 1.7 oz, so it feels very light and low profile. These numbers are similar to the manufacturer claims, but we imagine Coros just measured the body without including the buttons. The heart rate monitor is flat, so it doesn't push into the wrist, and we appreciate that the silicone straps can easily be changed out if they wear out. The white color we tested gets dirty quickly but luckily cleans up with some warm water and soap.
Our only real gripe is with the brightness of the screen. While it is easy to see in most light, brightness and colors are harder to see than other watches tested when in very bright sun. Additionally, the backlight is not very bright, and it's harder to see this watch than most in the dark. Aside from the brightness and color issues, we like the crisp look and visual design that makes it easy to use.
Given the excellent battery life, features, and ease of use, we can't help but boast the stellar value of the Coros Apex. After months of use, the screen hasn't scratched, even after rock climbing, scrambling, and crashing on a mountain bike. For the price, you'll be hardpressed to find another watch this high caliber. It contends with some of the highest performers at a fraction of the cost. The lower price means fewer features which also equates to more battery life, making it a great choice for any ultra-athlete. If you want more features, you can shell out some extra shekels to get the Coros Apex Pro, or you can choose the 46mm size, which has a battery life that's a little longer than the 42mm.
You won't be let down by the Coros Apex. This is a favorite for its minimalist design and easy use on both the watch itself and the associated software platform. It stands out for its long battery life in Smart mode, requiring just about one charge a month, depending on GPS use. If you're taking on longer distances and need a watch with a longer battery at a good price, Coros is the brand to consider.
— Amber King