The world's most in-depth and scientific reviews of outdoor gear

Coros Apex Review

A good looking and feature laden watch with a stellar battery life.
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:  $350 List | $299.99 at Amazon
Pros:  High-end construction, accurate, long battery life
Cons:  No downloadable workouts
Manufacturer:   Coros
By Larin McPeak ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Nov 26, 2019
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87
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 9
  • Features - 35% 8
  • Ease of Use - 25% 9
  • Battery Life - 15% 10
  • Accuracy - 15% 8
  • Design - 5% 9
  • Ease of Set-up - 5% 9

Our Verdict

The Coros Apex is definitely a market disruptor. Coros works differently than other companies. They essentially launch an already cool watch but then add more bomber features through regular updates as time goes on. This is one reason that we waited a while to review the Apex. We wanted to test it in all its glory. In the Apex, you get a long list of features comparable to more expensive GPS watches, a quality watch construction using materials such as titanium alloy and a battery that just does not quit, all for a reasonable price. This watch is the perfect companion for budget-conscious endurance athletes or feature junkies that also want a designer watch, and that is why it won our Editors' Choice Award.


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Coros Apex
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Price $299.99 at Amazon$599.99 at Amazon
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Pros High-end construction, accurate, long battery lifeExtensive features, long battery life, accurate, lightweightComfortable, long battery life, good value, user friendlyComprehensive, great battery life for the featuresAmazing battery life during activities, good looking
Cons No downloadable workoutsExpensive, huge menu interfaceNo navigation, no upload-able workouts, not as customizable as a GarminNo on-device heart rate sensor, bulkyExpensive, not very many features
Bottom Line A good looking and feature laden watch with a stellar battery life.A watch with everything; it will impress even the feature junkies.A great value watch that will not confuse the non-techy athlete.A fully featured device for the discerning user.If you are an ultra endurance athlete, this is the watch for you. If not, consider other options.
Rating Categories Coros Apex Garmin Forerunner 945 Coros Pace Suunto Ambit 3 Peak Suunto 9 Baro
Features (35%)
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8
10
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9
10
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6
10
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8
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7
Ease Of Use (25%)
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7
Battery Life (15%)
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9
Accuracy (15%)
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Design (5%)
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Ease Of Set Up (5%)
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Specs Coros Apex Garmin Forerunner... Coros Pace Suunto Ambit 3 Peak Suunto 9 Baro
Main body size 46 mm diameter, 13.75 mm thickness 30.4 mm diameter, 13.7 mm thickness 45mm, 13.7mm 56 mm diameter, 18 mm thickness 50mm width, 16.8mm thick
Weight, Verified 60g on my scale 50g (54g on my scale) 49g 87g 81g
Battery Type Rechargeable lithium-ion Rechargeable lithium-ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargeable lithium ion Recharable lithium ion
Manufacturer-reported Battery Life Up to 30 days/ 35hrs GPS Up to 2 weeks/ 36hrs GPS Up to 30 days 14 days Up to 14 days, training mode 24h/ 50h/ 120h
Navigation Features? Follows pre-programmed waypoints or tracks Follows pre-programmed waypoints or tracks "Back to start" or track-back Follows pre-programmed waypoints or tracks Follows pre-programmed waypoints or tracks
HR Monitor? Yes Yes Yes Yes, optional chest strap yes
Sleep tracking? yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Step counting? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Button Lock? Yes Yes N/A Yes Yes
Barometric Altimeter? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Sensor? Yes Yes Yes No Yes

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Coros with 4 data field screen including the heart rate and zones.
Coros with 4 data field screen including the heart rate and zones.

Features


A fascinating thing about the Coros Apex is that it is a gift that just keeps on giving. First, you buy an already feature-laden watch, and then the company regularly makes software updates that add more features and data tracking. And not just boring features, really baller features! From the beginning, the Apex offered a great list of the "usuals," such as GPS route tracking, an optical heart rate monitor, step counter, watch notifications and a barometer, but since we've had the watch, Coros has added a whole slew of new features. These include the "UltraMax" GPS mode, sleep tracking, customized triathlon mode, navigation with breadcrumb trail, many new languages, Back to Start during navigation, storm alerts coupled to the barometer, etc. In other words, what was originally a basic GPS tracking timepiece has become an all-around, ever-improving training and mountaineering tool.


All of these features produce lots of data, of course. What is specific to Coros is that they do not have an online platform like many other GPS watch companies, they prefer to stick to an app alone. Although there is a lot of information presented, the app does a great job of showing your collected data clearly and concisely. Since these updates occur regularly, and often add various tracking data metrics and analyses, the app has continued to be built out to include a complete picture of the user's training status, as well as all-around fitness, and well-being. This app is perhaps one of the most simple to use apps, as well. One reason is, however, that it does not show long term overviews or provide downloadable workouts.

Downloadable workouts allow you to use a variable training structure that your watch alerts you about when it is time to change the training, for example, during swim sets. That said, the Coros Apex does offer a set interval training feature for both running and cycling that provides alerts. These alerts enable an athlete not to need to look down at the watch during an activity. The watch beeps or vibrates, and you know, sprint time! For many people, the intervals function will be more than enough.

The navigation feature of the Coros Apex has a clear interface that allows you to zoom in and out of your pre-downloaded course. During our training runs, including more complicated runs with lots of turns, none of us got lost. Coros thought about this possibility, however, and included an update that places an arrow that points in the right direction, should there be any forks and turnarounds. Had we have gotten lost, we could have used the "Back to Start" feature and found our way back.

Of course, for all of these updates, you first need the correct hardware. The Coros Apex included a barometric altimeter, compass, accelerometer, and gyroscope. This hardware enables the software to continue to be built out and as far as we can tell, Coros is still improving the Apex and will add features in upcoming software updates!

One thing that must be said is, we liked that the updates gave us additional features. We thought this watch was excellent

prior to the features, but then we got more. Some people may not like this, as you are actively using a beta. Our experience is, if the update had bugs (which is not often the case), Coros fixes it within a week. The company is very interactive and responsive to its customers. You can actually get feedback directly from the CEO of Coros, Lewis Wu, on the Facebook "Coros Users Official Group!" Because the updates usually take five minutes, we didn't feel bothered by the downloads. Quite the contrary, we always got excited about whatever new feature we were about to receive.

The barometer can help you predict weather patterns and plan accordingly for storms.
The barometer can help you predict weather patterns and plan accordingly for storms.

GPS


The Apex uses GPS, GLONASS, and BDS satellites. Coros is the only company in our testing that utilizes BDS satellites. If you live in Asia or travel there a lot, this may provide the best GPS satellite coverage. That said, satellite coverage is so variable that it is difficult to predict. We did test this watch in China, and it acquired GPS signal faster than any other watches tested, but there is no way to directly correlate that acquisition speed to BDS.

The navigation feature on the Apex is super easy to follow and even on very foggy days  we had no problems following the breadcrumb trail line.
The navigation feature on the Apex is super easy to follow and even on very foggy days, we had no problems following the breadcrumb trail line.

Ease of Use



The Coros Apex has only one button and one digital crown. When the watch buttons are in lock mode, you must push the crown in and spin it in either direction to unlock it. The locking function can also be turned off. The user interface is very simple. You push the crown in to see the different activity profiles, as well as the System (settings) selection and the AI Trainer. You can then turn the crown to move the cursor to your choice and push the crown in to select it. The button below the crown acts as the "back" button and if held in, gives you a "quick menu."

We didn't have any problems navigating the various menus. The display was easy to read and vivid for all of us. Admittedly the resolution is lower than some other watches we tested but we all agreed that we didn't feel like we needed high resolution because the layout was so clear.


The app is also very user-friendly. Anyone with a basic understanding of apps can quickly find their way to the data they are searching for. The trouble that we did admittedly have was when the new updates were launched. Sometimes it was unclear how we utilize our new features or data collection. Usually this could be corrected with a quick visit to the Facebook "Coros Users Official Group" where the instructions were posted.

Battery Life


Coros has definitely made a name for itself when discussing battery life and the Apex does not disappoint. We usually find that watches that have a lot of features tend to have a shorter "normal usage" battery life. "Normal usage" includes day to day wear with smart notifications, maybe a few runs per week, etc. This does not hold true to the Coros Apex. We were getting close to one month of "normal usage!!" No other watch came close to this.


Endurance athletes will also be thoroughly happy with the Coros Apex. We were able to keep an activity running and tracking for up to 33 hours in GPS Mode with notifications on! Of course, the UltraMax mode is advertised to last up to 100 hours. UltraMax records GPS data for only 30 seconds every 120 seconds and uses algorithms to fill in the leftover 90 seconds. For those athletes doing big mileage for up to 100 hours, you do not have to carry that external battery! That said, should you need that battery, the charger is more than capable of staying put while you have the watch charging on an external battery in your running vest or pack, and the activity will continue to record without disruption.

We did not notice any effect on the battery during runs with very low temperatures.
We did not notice any effect on the battery during runs with very low temperatures.

Accuracy



In all of the tested watches, we measured the accuracy of GPS distance, the route tracking and, to a lesser extent, the optical heart rate monitor. People generally place too much value on accuracy, but there are so many variables that it is impossible to confirm if the data is skewed due to user issues, satellite location, or the actual watch. Generally, most GPS watches in the mid to high price category are quite accurate. We found that most of the time, the Coros Apex was 1.5% or less off on mileage of the total distances measured by other watches, google maps or races but that oddly enough, the lines/ routes that the gpx files drew were sometimes not as precise as other watches.. This was hard to understand as many of the watches that had perfect lines, had larger discrepancies on the actual mileage calculation.

The green line was recorded by the Coros and the blue came from the Garmin 945.
The green line was recorded by the Coros and the blue came from the Garmin 945.

The above photo represents a marathon run by one of our testers. You can see the Coros Apex line in neon green. As compared to the Garmin Forerunner 945, the line is imprecise. Despite that, the Coros provided a distance that was more accurate (26.6mi as compared to the Garmin Forerunner 945 at 26.8mi). Results like these are why we do not place as much emphasis on accuracy. Higher-end watches, such as the Coros Apex are all usually very accurate.


The accuracy of the optical heart rate monitor was tested against other watches and also a heart rate monitor chest belt, as these are usually more accurate than a wrist optical heart rate monitor. The Coros Apex was very close to the chest belt. Usually within 2%. This was in line with other high-end GPS watches and far exceeded the accuracy of budget watches.

No other watch on the market offers a data screen that includes six data fields.
No other watch on the market offers a data screen that includes six data fields.

Design



Although the Coros Apex is on the larger side of the watches we tested, we had no problems putting our jackets over it, nor fitting it snugly to our wrists. It is a bit heavier due to the titanium alloy bezel and long-life battery, but the weight and size did not bother even the most petite testers. Due to its simplistic design and clean lines, we all agreed this watch would not stand out too much in an office setting.

The strap is made of silicone and is quite comfortable. One big advantage to the Coros Apex's minimalistic design is that the crown can be placed either on the top right or bottom left just by flipping it around and making one change in the settings menu. This was a nice bonus for personalization.


Ease of Set Up


The set up on the Coros Apex went relatively quick. Downloading the app is very straight forward, and then you must scan a QR code on the watch. This pairs the watch with the app. The entire set up took a bit longer due to all of the updates that had to be downloaded, but there were no interruptions during the entire process, and it was all quite clear. We had our watch on our wrists, and the app completely set up in no time.


Two screens from the Coros app. The left is part of the data collected during a run. The right is how you can set up your data fields and screens during an activity. Very user-friendly!
Two screens from the Coros app. The left is part of the data collected during a run. The right is how you can set up your data fields and screens during an activity. Very user-friendly!

Value


For the package that Coros has put together in the Apex,, the value is extraordinary. If you compare the pricing to other brand name GPS watches, you will notice that you get much less for the same price as the Coros. The fact that Coros regularly makes updates that add features or additional data collection shows that they are serious about turning this watch into an indispensable tool in your training. Although it lacks onboard music or other non-training features, the Coros Apex offers an absurd long list of features for a relatively low price coupled with an attractive design.

Conclusion


The Apex is good looking, built to last, has a bomber battery life, and a long list of features specifically targeting endurance athletes and mountaineers. Whether you're an ultra runner, ironman, recreational runner, or mountaineer, this watch will keep up with you and accompany you seamlessly into the office.


Larin McPeak