Coros Apex Pro Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Coros Apex Pro stands out for its excellent feature set and good battery life while costing a lot less than the premium models. If you aren't sure you require every bell and whistle but don't want to sacrifice much, this is a great choice.
There are several notable features of the Apex Pro that we appreciate and that step up the game from the Apex and Pace 2 models. A larger touch screen is the primary enchantment, along with an oxygen sensor. Recently navigation features have been added as well, but we still prefer the more wide-ranging features offered by the Garmin models.
The Apex Pro has all of the standard features found in a mountain GPS watch, and we are impressed with the list given the price. Touch navigation has recently been introduced to this model via a software update, which is quite unique in the GPS watch world. With this navigation comes all of your standard ABC (Altimeter, Barometer, Compass) functions which we often use on our outings. It's hard to argue there is a better feature set for the cost.
- Fitness tracking
- Good selection of workout profiles
- An optical pulse oximeter (24/7 tracking at hourly increments)
- Enhanced track-tracking technology
- Optical heart rate monitor
- Ability to upload workouts
- Barometric altimeter
- Night mode
- Touch screen
- Waterproof to 100 meters (10 ATM)
- GPS battery life to 40 hours (as per manufacturer claim) with standard settings - UltraMax mode for up to 100 hours
- Options to optimize metrics for your needs via the Coros app
- Several display options
While we give you the basics, a complete list of features can be found on the Coros website.
As much as we like and recommend this watch when compared to the competition, a bit is lacking in the Coros ecosystem. Health metrics aren't as detailed and don't offer much insight. There are also a few tools on the Garmin models we use often and are big fans of, such as Garmin Pay and the remote-controlled music function.
We appreciate that Coros provides substantial firmware updates for many existing watches at no additional cost. Most recently, they improved their sleep tracking functionality to track REM — something that Garmin products have offered for a while now. This new functionality doesn't provide scores, but the data is more helpful than it was previously. The newest firmware update also adds the ability to find your phone from your watch, activating its ringer so you can more easily pinpoint the couch crevice it disappeared into. This works both ways — you can also find your watch via the app on your phone. To keep up to date on firmware updates, check the firmware update page on the Coros website.
If you're looking for a watch that'll last for your next extra-long endurance event, the Apex Pro is a great choice, especially at this price point. We tested it while hiking, biking, trail running, and walking in the canyons of Utah. Coros claims 40 hours in GPS mode (with regular sensors turned on), 100 hours in UltraMax mode, and 30 days in smartwatch mode. The watch charges from zero to full in under two hours (we measured ~80 minutes).
To test battery life, we handed the Apex Pro out to ultrarunners in the community who used it daily to track fitness, trail runs, mountain bike adventures, open water swimming, and more. In regular smartwatch mode, we logged three to four activities a week, lasting anywhere between 30 minutes to four hours. During these training sessions, we noticed the battery life depleted slowly. We had to recharge the watch every two to three weeks with this frequency of activity.
Like other models, Coros implements battery modes such as UltraMax — but we prefer the Garmin method of various battery profiles because it's nice to know what features you are gaining or losing when switching modes on and off. The Garmin and Suunto models do a better job of explaining these various power modes.
Ease of Use
Coros watches are straightforward to use right out of the box. We were using our watch within 10 minutes, from downloading the app to getting it set to our personal preferences. The software isn't bogged down with hoards of options and features, and the two-button, one-knob design makes it easy to figure out within minutes.
We love the simple watch face that can be optimized for design and functionality using the app. This app features easy adjustability for data screens and features, unlike the Garmin Connect app that hides them away. The scroll wheel is fluid and responsive, and we never felt like it lagged or needed time to catch up.
The Coros app is our favorite — Coros seems to understand that most folks use a third-party application to share and upload their activities. It's easy to use and limits the amount of information overload that greets you every time you open the app, unlike Garmin Connect.
We also like that the software updates from Coros are plentiful and seamless, updating from your phone and syncing via Bluetooth. However, we don't love that you can't plug this watch into a computer — it requires the use of a smartphone. Additionally, one downside of the easy-to-use scroll wheel is the requirement of a screen lock, at least in our experience. The exposed knob easily gets knocked by jackets or gloves and will automatically pause or change data fields. Unfortunately, the screen lock feels like one unnecessary step.
We love the GPS accuracy of the Apex Pro, earning it a high score in this category. We also tested the accuracy of the heart rate and optical pulse oximeter. These sensors provide good insight into the ups and downs your body might go through while exercising, but the actual numbers seemed to be a little off, which we've found to be true for most GPS watches out there.
To test the accuracy of the Apex Pro, we took it on the trail while hiking, trail running, and biking. We journeyed over known distances and compared the metrics to what we observed. Overall, we found this watch to be quite accurate. During our remote three-mile GPS comparison test, all the watches in our lineup were within .01 miles of each other. GPS watches these days are becoming quite accurate, and this model stacked up well against the competition. If you require the best accuracy on the market, dual-frequency models like Garmin Fenix 7 and Coros Vertix 2 will give you the results in complex terrain.
The heart rate accuracy on the Apex Pro is similar to other Coros watches. While it offers a look at the trends that your body is experiencing (i.e., ups and downs, relative zones of effort), the numbers weren't always dead on. When testing, we compared our heart rate to that of a more accurate chest heart rate monitor. Most of the time, it was accurate within 3 - 5 bpm. However, in some cases, there was a variation as large as 18 bpm. This is probably attributed to the sensor not having a super snug fit on our wrist, as this is the case for most GPS watches. Don't expect to use this sensor as an actual metric for your heart rate — use it instead as a gauge for tracking overall increases and decreases.
We love the easy-to-use design of the Apex Pro, with an interface that is on par with the premium Garmin models. The watch face itself is middle of the road for its size with a bright and easy-to-see display and just two buttons and one large dial on the side. Even on the sweatiest days, the silicone strap is comfortable, with plenty of holes to cinch it down tightly or let out a little extra room. While there are a lot of pluses, we also have our caveats.
We aren't huge fans of the rounded bezel found on the screen and prefer a flat external bezel that is slightly raised to protect against scratches. And, as we stated earlier, the requirement of a screen lock feels slow at times, especially during high-exertion activities. While the touch screen is nice, the screen doesn't lend itself to the great navigation experience that is found on the Vertix 2. The screen is a bit dull in bright light and is more difficult to see than the Fenix 7 which features crisper letter contrast.
Opening the Coros app on your smartphone will sync information to the app via Bluetooth, updating all your data. You can see all your workouts and even look at the stats of your weekly progress. While this ecosystem isn't nearly as robust as Garmin and doesn't have a social network for connecting with others, it can cross platforms, and you can add your data to other apps, like Strava. This app is also where you can customize workouts and courses and upload them to your phone. Probably the biggest downside of the Coros watches (including the Apex Pro) is that you can't plug your phone directly into a computer, so a smartphone is required to customize your usage.
Out of all the watches we tested this round, the Coros Apex Pro is one of the best-valued options. We are impressed with the number of features, the battery life is solid, and the durability will mean that it will last for years to come. Plus, you get access to the great Coros app. If you don't need the latest and greatest and just want a watch that does it all well, this is your model.
The Coros Apex Pro is one of the best GPS watches currently on the market, offering impressive battery life for the price point. Not only did we track 36 hours of straight GPS use (with all sensors turned on), but this watch typically lasts for at least two to three weeks (depending on your amount of GPS use). If you are looking at getting a GPS watch for challenging outdoor adventures and need all but the latest and greatest, we recommend this model and don't think you will be disappointed.
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