If you walk into our office on any given day, you will– without a doubt– find one thing in common with the entire Believe in the Run team: we’re all wearing our Coros GPS watches. The upstart China-based GPS watch company has produced a core range of excellent watches that address runners and adventurers of any level. Today, they continue that tradition with the second version of their flagship models, the Coros Apex 2 and Apex 2 Pro.
We first reviewed Coros when they released the original Apex in 2019; since then, we’ve all de-Garmined ourselves and converted and haven’t looked back.
And it’s just not a certain model that we prefer– the entire lineup is solid from the it’s-so good-it-should-cost-more Pace 2 to the rugged Vertix 2. Coros’ meteoric rise over the last few years has been for good reason– they provide incredible battery life with a clean interface and user experience, while the accuracy and features are on point. They are constantly upgrading and adding new features; two years into the life of your watch it almost feels like you bought an upgrade without even paying for it. Add exceptional customer service for good measure, and really– what else could you want?
It should also be noted that the cream of the crop in the outdoor world have almost all switched over to Coros at this point, from Kilian Jornet to Eliud Kipchoge to Molly Seidel. And they seem to be doing okay in their careers.
While we’re more bottom of the barrel types here at Believe in the Run, we were still excited to get our hands on the newest updates, and from the limited time we’ve tested them so far, we can say that the word “upgrade” fully applies.
Since we’ve always loved the design of Coros watches, let’s start with that. The new versions of both watches are sleeker and more streamlined than past versions, and honestly– just looking f&*#ing good.
Both watches come with a new grade 5 titanium bezel that doubles the scratch resistance (past versions of the cover material were aluminum), while the sapphire glass screen gets a new PVD coating that offers twice the scratch resistance as well. I’ve tried my best to wreck my original Apex 2 Pro over the course of the last two years, and there’s not a single scratch on the crystal, so I’m not sure if the added durability is even necessary, but hey– I’m certainly not complaining. The back cover is a titanium alloy.
The battery life has always been one of the stand-out components of Coros products. So good that I often lose my charging cord between charges. That longevity only gets better. The standard Apex 2 now has 45 hours of standard GPS and 28 hours of all-system GPS (GPS/QZSS+GLONASS+Galileo+BeiDou), while the Apex 2 Pro registers a whopping 75 hours in standard and 45 hours in all-systems mode. In daily use/smartwatch mode, the Apex 2 and Apex 2 Pro will last for 17 days and 30 days, respectively.
Speaking of GPS, both watches have a redesigned GPS antenna for 50% better performance. I’m not sure what “performance” means, because Coros has always had great accuracy, but I’ll take performance upgrades any day.
Other upgrades include redesigned optical HR sensor with Wear Detection, as well as heart rate variability support in the form of an electrocardiogram sensor. A blood oxygen sensor monitors your status at altitude, a feature that was previously only available in the Vertix 2.
Each model will also come with the option to have a full touch screen setting (we haven’t been able to test that yet, the firmware is coming in the next few days.)
One noticeable difference on the spec sheet we received is the addition of large onboard storage, which will allow for better support for “future firmware updates, map files, data, music, and music support for future streaming services.”
All this has been done with just an incremental size increase of one-tenth of an inch for the display of the watch. I really haven’t noticed a difference in my week of wearing it.
Of course, all of this syncs up to the Coros app, which is really one of the cleanest and most user-friendly apps I’ve ever used. I love the simplicity of it. In the past, Coros has publicly said they’re trying to take the Apple route, essentially creating products that are so intuitive that they don’t require a user guide. And I have to say, they pretty much nail it.
Coros also is making a huge push for the introduction of Effort Pace, which used to be ‘Adjusted Pace.’ This is essentially an attempt to put a twist on the running power metric and harness that data for more dialed-in training adjustments. It does this by taking into account environmental factors, in addition to uphill and downhill gradients. According to Coros, it differs from running power in that it “focuses on athletes’ personal strengths and weaknesses to provide them with real-time pacing figures based on their own personalized efforts.” Of course, they want you to buy into the Coros Pod 2, which will give you the complete training package.
Another notable feature for both models- you can drop mp3 files (music, audiobooks, etc.) straight onto the watch if it’s connected to your computer of music/audiobooks/etc. They’ve also added internal hardware to allow for the future inclusion of music streaming services, something they’re hoping to launch in 2023.
You may have noticed, but most of the things we’ve covered in this section are features of both watches. So what sets them apart? Battery life is the most obvious one of course, as the Apex 2 Pro has over 65% better battery life than the Apex 2 in full GPS mode. It also has larger onboard storage (32GB), support for all systems dual frequency GNSS chipset (good for city runners/climbers/canyon hikers and runners), larger screen, and multi-pitch climbing mode. However, the smaller battery and storage space allows for a lighter and smaller watch on the wrist in the Apex 2, which weighs 20% less than the Apex 2 Pro (43 grams vs. 53 grams).
The price of the Apex 2 Pro actually remains the same as the initial release at $499 (since then they’ve lowered the price of the Apex Pro by $100). The Apex is a bit more than the original at $399.
We’ve been loving our experience so far with both models. The first noticeable difference is that the displays are much cleaner, the fonts much crisper, the data fields much easier to check on the run. It’s a big deal and makes for a very pleasant user experience.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the crown dial, and this one gets a slight upgrade with an updated design for better grip. I also like that in lock mode you can just hold the dial down instead of rolling it to unlock like the previous version.
Accuracy-wise, I’ve never had any issues with my original Apex Pro, and nothing significant has stood out to me with this version over the last week of testing.
As someone who likes to design weird routes and grab GPX files from AllTrails for hikes with my family, the navigation feature of the Coros Apex 2 Pro has always been one of my favorite features. Airdropping a GPX file from my computer to my Coros app and syncing with the watch takes about 30 seconds. What’s pretty fantastic is that both watches come with global offline landscape and topographical maps. Before, you had to adjust your region if you traveled, but it’s all there now. The only downside is that the maps don’t have street names, so while you can kind of see where you’re at and where the route is guiding you, you won’t necessarily know exactly where you are.
So I guess that brings me to the final point, which is– why pay $100 more for the Apex 2 Pro over the Apex 2? It really almost comes down to if you prefer a watch with long-ass battery life. The Apex 2 is long, but the Apex 2 Pro is looooooonnnng. If you’re a climber or someone who routinely runs among skyscrapers, then you may want the upgrade for better GPS accuracy in walled situations. Lastly, with larger onboard storage, the Apex 2 Pro may be the better long-term purchase, as Coros is known to constantly roll out more in-depth features. That extra storage space will be more than enough to accommodate them without suffering a slowdown in processing time.
If you’re on a budget? Definitely get the Apex 2. You’re getting almost all of the features of the Apex 2 Pro, and those features are pretty outstanding.
Whichever one you go with, we can say that Coros continues an excellent run of great products with these newest models, and we’re excited to have them on our wrists for the next three years, just as we have the past three.
The Coros Apex 2 ($399) and Apex 2 Pro ($499) are available now at the shop links below.Shop Coros Apex 2 Shop Coros Apex 2 Pro