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Coros Apex Pro Review

With all the right features and monstrous battery life, this watch is one of our favorites for ultradistance events and explorations
Coros Apex Pro
Photo: Coros
Top Pick Award
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Price:  $500 List | $499.99 at Amazon
Compare prices at 2 resellers
Pros:  Stellar battery life, nice size and weight, comfortable, easy to use, simple software platform, seamless syncing and updates, touchscreen
Cons:  Larger knob is easy to push accidentally, can't be plugged into a computer
Manufacturer:   Coros
By Amber King ⋅ Senior Review Editor  ⋅  Aug 16, 2021
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82
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#3 of 11
  • Features - 20% 7
  • Battery Life - 20% 9
  • Ease of Use - 20% 8
  • Accuracy - 20% 9
  • Design - 20% 8

Our Verdict

If you're seeking the best when it comes to battery life, the Coros Apex Pro is the one we recommend. Loaded with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, this baby is stated to last up to 40 hours in GPS mode and 30 days in smartwatch mode. Its design is light and bright, with all the right features for your adventures. Daily tracking, pulse oximeter, heart rate monitor, and several activity profiles, all wrapped in an easy-to-use experience. While we have a few qualms with the design, it's still the best option for those looking for a simple watch that offers the best features and huge battery life.

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Coros Apex Pro
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Coros Apex Pro
Awards Top Pick Award Editors' Choice Award  Best Buy Award Top Pick Award 
Price $499.99 at Amazon
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$549.88 at Amazon
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Pros Stellar battery life, nice size and weight, comfortable, easy to use, simple software platform, seamless syncing and updates, touchscreenLightweight and thin profile, intuitive, fully featured, very accurateExcellent quality, accurate, simple design, astounding value, very easy to use, great feature set, very long battery lifeLow profile design, great battery life, very accurate, low costSolar rechargeable, good feature set, all functionality is built into the watch without the need for the apps
Cons Larger knob is easy to push accidentally, can't be plugged into a computerExpensive, hidden features that take time to set-up and get to know, blood oxygen sensor has questionable accuracyBacklight isn't bright, heart rate monitor accuracy is a little offNo mountain sports or navigational featuresButtons are easy to push accidentally, can't use a screen protector, small screen, can't modularize the features like other Garmin products
Bottom Line With all the right features and monstrous battery life, this watch is one of our favorites for ultradistance events and explorationsThis elite watch stands out for its high-end features with exceptional accuracy and performance in a low profile designA well-constructed and accurate watch with a minimalistic design, excellent battery life, and all the right featuresA fully functional and incredibly light GPS sports watch boasting out of this world battery lifeA top recommendation for any adventurer heading out on a longer expedition that needs GPS and a rechargeable device
Rating Categories Coros Apex Pro Garmin Forerunner 945 Coros Apex Coros Pace 2 Garmin Instinct Solar
Features (20%)
7.0
9.0
6.0
5.0
7.0
Battery Life (20%)
9.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
9.0
Ease Of Use (20%)
8.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
8.0
Accuracy (20%)
9.0
8.0
9.0
9.0
7.0
Design (20%)
8.0
9.0
9.0
9.0
5.0
Specs Coros Apex Pro Garmin Forerunner 945 Coros Apex Coros Pace 2 Garmin Instinct Solar
Model Tested Standard N/A Standard N/A Standard
Watch Face Material Sapphire glass Corning Gorilla Glass DX Sapphire glass Corning glass Power glass with photovoltaic panels built-in
Bezel Titanium Alloy Fiber-reinforced polymer Stainless steel bezel Fiber reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer
Case Alumnium Fiber-reinforced polymer Alumnium Fiber reinforced polymer Fiber-reinforced polymer
Strap Material Silicon or nylon Silicon Silicon or nylon Silicon or nylon Silicone
Tools Required to Change Band? No Yes No No Yes
Size Tested 47mm One size only 44mm One size only One size only
Measured Main Body Size (diameter or W x H) 47mm 46mm 44mm 43mm 46mm
Measured Thickness 13.4mm 13mm 13mm 11mm 15mm
Measured Screen Width 33mm 30mm 33mm 32mm 22mm
Measured Weight 2.0 oz 1.7 oz 1.7 oz 1.2 oz 1.9 oz
Measured Charging Time 80 min 75 min 70 min 80 min 140 min
Battery Type Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion Rechargable lithium ion
Measured Battery Life With GPS On 36 hours 28 hours 24 hours 29 hours 29 hours
Manufacturer-Reported Battery Life Smartwatch mode: 30 days
GPS mode: 40 hours
UltraMax mode: 100 hours
Smartwatch mode: Up to 14 days
GPS mode w/ music: 10 hours
GPS without music: 36 hours
Smartwatch mode: 25 days
Full GPS mode: 25 hours
UltraMax GPS mode: 80 hours
Smartwatch mode: 20 days
GPS mode: 30 hours
Ultramax mode: 60 hours
Smartwatch: up to 24 days/54 days with solar*
Battery-saver watch mode: up to 56 days/unlimited with solar*
GPS mode: up to 30 hours/38 hours with solar**
Max battery GPS mode: up to 70 hours/145 hours with solar**
Expedition GPS activity: up to 28 days/68 days with solar*
*Solar charging, assuming all-day wear with 3 hours per day outside in 50,000 lux conditions
**Solar charging, assuming use in 50,000 lux conditions
Navigation Built In? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Satellite Networks Used GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, QZSS, GLONASS, BEIDOU GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO
Maps? Yes - basic Yes, detailed Yes - basic No Yes - basic
Back to Start Navigation? Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Water Resistance (max depth) 100m 50m 100m 50m 100m
Music Control? No Yes No No No
Music Storage? No Yes - 1000 songs No No No
Daily Fitness Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Touchless Payment? No Yes No No No
Sleep Tracking? Yes Yes Yes Yes No
Blood Oxygen? Yes Yes No No Yes
Compass? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Barometric Altimeter? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Temperature Sensor? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Main Software App Coros App Garmin Connect, widgets for other features Coros App 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 Pro stands out for its excellent battery life. Lasting two to three weeks in smartwatch mode (with some workouts in between) and up to 40 hours in GPS mode, this is one to buy if battery life is your top priority. It has most features of a high-end watch, without the extras.

Performance Comparison


Eddie checks out his stats after completing the rim-to-rim-to-rim...
Eddie checks out his stats after completing the rim-to-rim-to-rim run in the Grand Canyon, running through the night. After this 13 hour escapade, this watch still had over 50% of battery left and kept going for one more week. No wonder it's a favorite for battery life.
Photo: Amber King

Features


There are several notable features of the Coros Apex Pro that we appreciate and that step up the game from the Coros Apex and Coros Pace 2. Most notably is the touch screen, night mode, enhanced backlight, and 24/7 blood oxygen monitoring (hourly acclimatization profiles). Of the Coros watches in this review, the Apex Pro offers the most features, but not nearly as many as the high-end Garmin watches.


The Apex Pro also has standard features such as GPS tracking, breadcrumb navigation, fitness, sleep tracking, the ability to upload and create workouts, and more. It doesn’t offer any music storage or control, but with every update comes new features. For example, the latest update at the time of writing this article features running performance, fatigue, and recovery assessments. These updates took a few minutes to sync and offer insights into short-term training over a week to see if you’re improving.

A look at a few of the features that we love. While this isn't the...
A look at a few of the features that we love. While this isn't the most featured GPS watch in comparison to others in the Garmin realm, it has just the right features you need.
Photo: Amber King

Notable Features:

  • Fitness tracking
  • Several workout profiles (Run, Indoor Run, Trail Run, Track Run, Hike, Bike, - Indoor Bike, Pool Swim, Open Water, Triathlon, Gym Cardio, GPS Cardio, Ski, Snowboard, XC Ski, Ski Touring, Multisport, Strength, Training)
  • An optical pulse oximeter (24/7 tracking at hourly increments)
  • Enhanced track tracking technology
  • Optical heart rate monitor
  • Ability to upload workouts
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Accelerometer
  • Compass
  • Gyroscope
  • Thermometer
  • Night mode
  • Touch screen
  • Waterproof to 100 meters (10ATM)
  • 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.

Battery Life


If you’re looking for a watch that’ll last for your next extra-long endurance event, the Apex Pro is hard to beat. We tested it while hiking, biking, swimming, trail running, and walking in the mountains and canyons of Colorado’s wilderness. In all cases, battery life superseded other options in both Smartwatch and GPS mode. Coros claims 40 hours in GPS mode (with regular sensors turned on), 100 hours in UltraMax mode, and 30 days in smartwatch mode. It charges from zero to full in under two hours (we measured ~80 minutes).


To test battery life, we put the Apex Pro to the test. We handed it out to ultrarunners in the community who used it daily to track fitness, trail runs, mountain bike adventures, open water swimming, and more. Let’s start with regular smartwatch mode. During our testing period, 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. Of all our tested GPS watches, this offers the best long-lasting battery life for general use with GPS activities thrown into the mix.

Not only do we test during ultra events, but we look at battery life...
Not only do we test during ultra events, but we look at battery life tracking with GPS during training runs across variable terrain. Here we play on the ridges of the Red Mountains in southwest Colorado.
Photo: Amber King

We also tested GPS battery life. This isn't a one-off test, but one that took months to perform. During our first test, we simply laid the watch outside and ran GPS down from 100% to 0%. During this test, we managed to track for 44 hours. Then, we wore the watch during longer activities and kept the GPS going after the activity to see how long battery life would last, running it down further. In this test, we saw a range of times between 32 hours to 36 hours for battery life, with all the sensors on. This variation, we think, is due to differences in terrain and energy required to find satellites. Armed with this information, this is the watch we would recommend if you’re looking for the best when it comes to battery life. In comparison to the rest, it has the longest battery life in both GPS tracking and smartwatch mode.

Eddie takes a break at the top of the Bright Angel Trail after...
Eddie takes a break at the top of the Bright Angel Trail after getting in 36+ miles in the Grand Canyon overnight.
Photo: Amber King

If it is required, you can charge this watch on the go, but you need to take it off your wrist. The connection with the cable does require some attention as it doesn’t have a clip and can slip out easily while moving.

Ease of Use


Coros watches are notorious for their simplicity and ease of 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. Using the rolling dial, you can scroll to look at weekly activity logs, recovery data, fitness tracking, heart rate, altitude, barometer, temperature, sunset/sunrise data for the day, and smartwatch notifications. This can be optimized to show what you’d like to see off the bat.

Our user experience has been positive, proving to be one of the most...
Our user experience has been positive, proving to be one of the most intuitive systems we've encountered in the GPS watch world.
Photo: Amber King


To access activity profiles, you push on the larger rolling dial, which will access over 25 activities. Each profile has a start and settings option to optimize the activity experience as you wish. For example, if you want a metronome while running, you can turn that on. Several workouts can also be uploaded from the app, working as a personal trainer. We really like all these features, and it didn’t take our testers any Googling to figure out how to make it work.

A look at the sport options, which include mountain sports.
A look at the sport options, which include mountain sports.
Photo: Amber King

We also like that the software updates are plentiful and seamless, updating from your phone and syncing via Bluetooth. However, we didn’t love that you can’t plug this watch into a computer requiring the use of a smartphone only. Additionally, the Coros software isn’t nearly as comprehensive as Garmin or Suunto. While it does cross platforms, it doesn’t have its own dedicated social network. That said, we are pleased by its ease of use. It’s a no-frills option with simple features.

Accuracy


We love the GPS accuracy of the Apex Pro, earning it a high score in this category. We also tested the accuracy of heart rate and the 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 tested it on the trail while hiking, trail running, and biking. We took known distances and compared the metrics to what we observed. Overall, we found this watch to be quite accurate. During a 10.8 mile bike into town, the watch showed 10.75 miles with an elevation drop that was pretty dead on. We also tested while trail running and hiking through spotty service areas. During these explorations, the GPS stayed connected and offered metrics that seemed to be similar to the marked distances and elevation changes.

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

The heart rate accuracy 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 to 5bpm. However, in some cases, there was variation as large as 18bpm. 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, but instead as a gauge for tracking increases and decreases.

Here we stand at Ophir pass. While the actual reading for this pass...
Here we stand at Ophir pass. While the actual reading for this pass is about 11,789 ft, we deem this to be pretty darn accurate. This was also a great time to calibrate for even better accuracy, altitude-wise.
Photo: Amber King

Design


We love the easy-to-use design of the Apex Pro, with an interface that stands out amongst the rest. The watch face itself is middle of the road for its size with a bright and easy-to-see display, with just two buttons and one large dial on the side. The silicone strap is comfortable, even on the sweatiest days, 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.


To start with the pluses, most can appreciate the watch face size. Measured at 47mm across and a 13.4mm thickness, this is a lighter option than other heavy-duty watches that boast the same amount of battery life. It weighed only 2 ounces on our scales, still making it fairly lightweight. This is a watch we could wear all day and into bed.

We love the large fonts, simple buttons, and dial knob that make it...
We love the large fonts, simple buttons, and dial knob that make it easy to scan and move through different screens. One downside of wearing it on the left side is the larger knob gets pushed with wrist flexion, which can stop activities. Wear it on your right wrist to avoid this issue.
Photo: Amber King

Opening the Coros app on your smartphone will sync your data 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.

Here is a look at the summary data on the Coros App, which requires...
Here is a look at the summary data on the Coros App, which requires the use of a smartphone. While the metrics aren't as intensive as those in the Garmin ecosystem, we found the information to be all we needed.
Photo: Amber King

One of the biggest caveats of the design is the larger roller button on the side. When worn on the left hand, it gets pushed whenever flexing the wrist, which stops the activity. That said, you can change your preferences, so it's worn on the right wrist.

Workout libraries and courses for navigation can easily be uploaded...
Workout libraries and courses for navigation can easily be uploaded to the app and synched to the watch via Bluetooth.
Photo: Amber King

Value


So is the Coros Apex Pro worth the dent in your wallet? If you’re seeking a watch that boasts the best battery life, then you could absolutely argue that this watch is worth the money. This watch is ideal for ultra athletes who need a device to track GPS mode with all features on for 36 hours. However, most people probably don’t need this amount of battery life. For those, we’d recommend the Coros Pace 2. It has similar features (minus the optical pulse oximeter), 25 hours of GPS battery life, and comes at a much lower price.

Conclusion


The Coros Apex Pro is one of the best GPS watches currently on the market, offering the best battery life we’ve tested so far. Not only did we track 36 hours of straight GPS use (with all sensors turned on), but it typically lasts for at least two to three weeks (depending on your amount of GPS use). Of all tested, it lasts the longest. It also features UltraMax mode (up to 100 hours of life) with an optical oximeter. This watch is best for those that need a lot of battery juice.

Amber, our main testers, checks out stats on this 12,000-foot peak...
Amber, our main testers, checks out stats on this 12,000-foot peak with the Coros Apex Pro. A watch for the adventurer that likes to track for up to 40 hours using GPS.
Photo: Amber King

Amber King