Throughout my experience with GPS sports watches, I’ve grown accustomed to simply strapping them on and embarking on my activities without any need for customisation. The default settings have always sufficed, and it’s only on rare occasions, months later, when I require something highly specific, that I even contemplate adjusting any of the settings. For the Coros Apex 2 Pro, this was not the case.
This review necessitates a dual perspective due to the starkly contrasting experiences I encountered with this watch. My first impressions upon unboxing were far from favourable. Once customised to my needs, it became a fantastic watch. Almost every major issue I initially had with the watch was then rectified with some simple settings changes. So much so that over the few months I used the watch, I went from a sceptic to a big Coros fan.
As you have probably already guessed, my first impressions were not great. Coming from using either a Garmin or Suunto GPS watch, the Coros just didn’t stack up. It can take time to become familiar with a new watch, yet I was running into so many issues with the Coros Apex 2 Pro that I had almost lost hope. The oversized scroll wheel proved cumbersome and prone to accidental presses. As a whole, the watch was chunkier than the others I have used. This paired with its black, grey and red colour scheme and the large writing along the band (“explore perfection”), it came across as a somewhat less refined GPS sports watch.
While out on a run, the controls were not immediately intuitive. It felt foreign to hold in the scroll wheel to access any of the interface’s other available pages. All of these seemingly small issues added up to a rather annoying experience and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was missing something.
Coros Apex 2 Pro specifications
46.1 x 46.5 x 14mm 66g with Silicone Band, 53g with Nylon Band
Finally, I decided to commit the time and effort – although minimal – to adjusting the watch settings and see if I can iron out some of these issues. Boy did this change my opinion quickly. Flipping the display of the watch proved to be a game-changer; relocating the buttons and scroll wheel to the opposite side not only eliminated accidental bumps but also enhanced the overall user experience. It then felt more instinctive, navigating with my right thumb, similar to operating a smartphone. It also meant the watch band was now flipped, so from my perspective, the watch looked a little cleaner and more stylish.
Then I went on to customise the watch interface as well as the in-activity pages. This meant I was able to see the data I needed at a glance and it instantly became a much more enjoyable watch to use. With that said, I think it’s only fair that my review should focus on my feelings towards the watch once I had adjusted the settings and customised it to my liking.
Look and feel
The colour combination of black and grey with a red accent certainly makes the Coros stand apart from its competitors. There is a sense that Coros is a little more playful with its styling. Not afraid to do things their own way. The watch overall feels chunkier than most, with a 14mm watch face depth that also includes a rather large scroll wheel. It boasts a 1.3-inch display that is slightly above average with a sapphire glass screen and a grade 5 titanium alloy bezel. The watch interface in general is very simple. Most of the navigation is done with the scroll wheel, or you have the option to use the touch screen instead.
Another unique part of the Coros watch lineup is its nylon watch band. It’s very comfortable and helps get that perfect fit with a velcro-like securing system. It feels breathable and is noticeably light, weighing in at just 53g. I tested out the black colourway of the Coros Apex 2 Pro and I think it could be a little polarising. Its fun and bold styling will appeal to some, yet it may make it not as versatile to wear to work meetings or social events. It is also available in a light grey as well as a dark green which both look fantastic.
What surprised me about the Coros Apex 2 Pro is the huge list of features along with the clear and accurate data you can view on the watch post-run, or on the Coros app. General smart features, on the other hand, are lacking. In other words, this watch isn’t your all-singing-all-dancing daily smartwatch as it doesn’t have common convenient features like an NFC chip for contactless payments, music streaming services and other third-party apps. There are some smart features, however, like message/app notifications, alarms and timers. If you are mostly looking for a smartwatch, this one isn’t for you. What the Coros Apex 2 Pro may lack in smart utility, it certainly makes up for with its confident and unapologetic identity as a watch for exploring and trailblazing.
Built for purpose
Coros have made the call to use a memory-in-pixel LCD display that ensures a longer battery life at the expense of a slightly dimmer display. With its scratch-resistant, water-resistant and temperature-resistant build, the Coros Apex 2 Pro comes to life in the wilderness and performs in all environments. Adventuring and finding new trails is what this watch is all about, taking advantage of its altimeter, barometer, and compass. The enhanced navigation experience contains features like Distance to Destination, Deviate Alert, Elevation Profile and Exact GPS coordinates. For trail runners, these are the type of features that make the Coros Apex 2 Pro the perfect companion. You can even draw your preferred route within the Coros app and the Route Planner will choose the optimal path based on the closest trails or streets available.
GPS sports watch
It’s important to mention that all of your standard workout metrics are recorded such as calories, activity duration, heart rate, heart rate zones, elevation and much more. You can view your workout load to better plan your workouts and even track your recovery. This is certainly a multi-sport watch as there is a very comprehensive list of sports available. The sleep tracking isn’t something I tested as I don’t like to sleep with a watch on, yet it can help track deep, light, and REM sleep. You can also take a quick heart rate variability (HRV) measurement to determine how prepared your body is to take on the day, or check your blood oxygen level to monitor your body’s adaptation to altitude.
The one big flaw that I was not able to resolve was an issue with the built-in metronome. Having a metronome feature in a sports watch is useful for adjusting cadence and running style among other things. The metronome function in the Coros Apex 2 Pro exhibited inconsistency, emitting beeps or buzzes at an irregular rhythm, making it unhelpful in practice. It’s certainly not a major feature and I would assume it is only used by a small percentage of users.
Heart rate and GPS accuracy
During my testing, I found the GPS to be fantastic. Coros has introduced an all-new dual-frequency satellite chip that helps connect quickly and record rather accurate GPS data whether I was running in a city environment or out on the trails. The much improved next-generation optical heart rate sensor was as good as any on the market. Compared with Suunto and Garmin heart rate sensors, the results were very consistent. Accurate heart rate data is one of the most important functions of a GPS sports watch as this is the source from which a lot of the training load, recovery and zone information is extrapolated.
The Apex 2 Pro provides 30 days of normal use and 75 hours of GPS battery life which is a big improvement from its predecessor. When considering the watch is targeted at trail runners and ultra-marathon enthusiasts, battery life is very important. On the other side of the spectrum, not having to charge your watch for a month is super convenient when using it as your daily driver.
Coros Pod 2 accessory
While testing out the Coros, I also paired the watch with the Coros Pod 2. In the past, I had seen other runners attaching a small clip to one of their running shoes before the start of a race. I always wondered what they were and I finally had the chance to test one for myself. The Pod 2 is a small, lightweight watch accessory that is easy to connect. Its main purpose is to assist with pace, cadence, altitude and distance tracking accuracy.
When you use a GPS watch to track your run, it generally works consistently while out in the open. If you run into a tunnel or under a bridge, the watch may lose GPS and start guessing where you have gone. With the Coros Pod 2 connected to your watch, your foot direction and movements will be measured to assist the GPS data. All of this provides real-time data that is accurate and helpful for your training. I enjoyed using the Coros Pod 2 as it was quick and easy to clip onto my shoe, plus pairing it to the watch was instant. Running in the city meant I had peace of mind that my running splits were recorded accurately. My watch also kept me up-to-date with the battery life of the Pod 2. Overall, the accessory is a great addition to any GPS sports watch.
Who is the Coros Apex 2 Pro for?
I found the Coros Apex 2 Pro to be a somewhat misunderstood watch. Comparing it directly to other smartwatches may leave you underwhelmed with its lack of day-to-day features. For the outdoorsman and ultra runners that are looking for a watch with long battery life and is built tough to withstand all conditions, this is a winner.
Coros Apex 2 Pro
When compared to other smartwatches, the Coros Apex 2 Pro misses a few smart features. With that said, this watch it build for purpose and is a very strong watch for running enthusiasts and those that like to explore trails.