If you follow us at all, you’ll know that I’ve reviewed a variety of COROS models over the last two years, including the Apex, Apex Pro, and Vertix. Somehow, I’ve never gotten ahold of the Pace, their entry-level model.
When COROS approached us in 2018 about reviewing the COROS Apex, I’m going to be honest– I personally had never heard of them. That said, I’m always down for a GPS watch review, so I obliged. From the outset, I was quite impressed and gave the Apex a favorable review.
Since then, COROS has made a strong push in the GPS watch scene. Coming in through the backdoor of running in the trail running scene, they’ve proceeded to snatch up some really big-name athletes while trickling out the four mainstays of their portfolio. Their foot is on the gas and it shows, as every firmware update seems to drop another bundle of product features that are salivating for any runner.
When the COROS Apex Pro released in the fall of 2019, the core family of COROS products was complete. Now we’re onto round two with the release of the COROS Pace 2.
An entry-level watch for under $200, the COROS Pace 2 is a pretty powerful device in a small, lightweight package. Honestly, it’s hard to call it entry-level for the number of features included, which will satisfy almost any runner. More on that later.
I’ve been wearing the watch over the last few weeks for testing purposes, and while a lot of the mainstay features mimic the first round of COROS watches, there are some exciting updates and upgrades that any runner will find attractive.
So what can the “2” do for you? Find out below.Shop COROS PACE 2
Simply put, the COROS Pace 2 is a lightweight watch with great battery life and an array of built-in features that will accommodate most runners. Highlights include:
The list is pretty short, but there are some notable things that you won’t get with this watch that comes in the higher-priced models. Which makes sense, but I’ll still point it out.
I should preface this by noting that COROS has said this watch is for runners who just want something simple to get out and run, so for this particular model, their focus isn’t on adventurous types. Essentially, if you’re into mountain stuff, you should move on up to the COROS Apex Pro or COROS Vertix.
It’s 2020, so no real player on the GPS scene should have any issues with this. And really, any watch on the market right now, especially ones we’ve reviewed, will give you accurate GPS readings.
The Pace 2 is no different. Over the course of the last month, I had no drops or severe deviations in distance, always within a tenth of a mile of my other watches. At times I tested against three other watches (Polar Grit X, COROS Apex Pro, and Garmin Forerunner 245). However, I guess because of the hack, my 245 got disconnected and when I went to upload data I could not get my watch to connect to the app to export my data. So unfortunately, you will not see that in the below comparisons. However, I can tell you that the Pace 2 was in-line with the Garmin Forerunner 245 and every other watch I tested.
For a couple examples, refer to the maps below.
Devices: COROS Pace 2 (purple), Polar Grit X (red), COROS APEX Pro (blue)
Geography: City with some park and trees
Everything is pretty solid in this example with no real deviations. The Pace 2 was especially tight, especially at that hairpin turn in the center-left of the map coming out of Patterson Park. Very pleased.
Devices: COROS Pace 2 (purple), Polar Grit X (blue)
Geography: City/Industrial Zone (fairly wide open)
In this one there was a slight deviation on the top-left, but there is a super tall office building there where all my watches go haywire from time-to-time. Even so, the deviation isn’t that severe. On the bottom right, you can see that it holds to the road perfectly while the Polar Grit X got a little off track. Again, pretty pleased with this.
I’m going to be real here– I typically write this section off for most optical heart rate sensors because they’re just too fickle– since your wrist is further from your heart and the light sensors can be thrown off by any number of things (including skin tone or tattoos), it’s hard to get an accurate reading from the wrist that’s comparable to a chest strap monitor.
I especially thought the Pace 2 was going to suck because it only has a handful of sensors to pick up blood flow (some watches like the Polar Grit X have up to 9). But damn if this thing didn’t almost give me a reason to run without a chest strap.
The accuracy was honestly one of the best optical heart rate sensors I’ve tested (maybe the best?) as you can see from the graphs below. I was truly shocked at how fast it came up to my real heart rate and throughout my workouts, I only got one or two short spikes and drops.
Devices: COROS Pace 2 (purple), Polar H9 Chest Strap Monitor (blue and red, was transmitting to two watches, Polar Grit X and COROS Apex Pro)
Pretty impressed with the Pace 2 overall. Now, I was basically keeping my heart rate in the 140-150 range the whole time, but it really kept up nicely with my chest strap monitor. It adjusted very quickly in the beginning of the run, and only had a couple slight misses.
Devices: COROS Pace 2 (purple), Polar H9 Chest Strap Monitor (blue)
So there was a little more deviation in the beginning of this run, but once it found its place, it held pretty much perfectly over the next 20 minutes.
While battery technology has greatly improved over the last couple years, it’s still been a struggle to find a really great battery in an entry-level watch. Look no more. The watch holds up to its 30-hour full GPS claim and uses very little when off GPS. I easily went a couple weeks between charges.
The weight of this watch truly is featherweight, and coupled with its slim case design (42 mm diameter), you really won’t notice it’s there. Which is really nice if you don’t need the larger and more rugged styling of some other GPS watches out there. It’s so light, it almost feels cheap, like you won it in the claw game at Chuck E. Cheese.
We’ve all had issues with GPS watches on the track– with satellite pinging, you’re never getting an accurate track reading, so you can’t ever rely on your watch metrics to train properly. Except now you can.
COROS has a patented track mode that utilizes a proprietary algorithm to lock in your track circuit (you can even choose your lane). During your workout, it perfectly measures your distance and gives you a squeaky-clean oval, time and time again, for the entirety of your workout. It’s really quite something, and because of this, I only use COROS on the track.
This is one of my favorite things about COROS, and they have it patented, so you won’t be seeing it anytime soon in any other watches.
I absolutely love the customized workouts for COROS and it’s amazing they’re available for the COROS Pace 2 as well. From the app, you can literally build any workout you can imagine in the easiest possible way. I know this is available with other watches, but you won’t find an easier-to-use interface than the COROS app.
From the workout build screen you can set your warm-up, cool down, and of course your run (or bike or swim) by using a variety of metrics– from heart rate to pace to perceived effort. Want to do an interval run with one mile on, two minutes off? Easy, just set it all with the touch of the screen. It’s so easy, it looks like Apple designed it.
When you have your workout exactly as you want it, simply save it and sync it to the watch, which takes all of 3 seconds. Boom, you’re good to go. So simple, so good.
Don’t want to build your own? Cool, choose from over 200+ preloaded exercises with animation from the COROS app.
Even cooler, you can share and receive your friends’ or coaches’ workout program by one tap or a QR code scan.
You can also download free workout programs from COROS athletes and their coaches.
COROS now has the ability to build custom training plans directly from the app with an insanely easy interface (or you can download one of their over 200 training plans straight to your watch). Easily add workouts, duplicate days, set a calendar, and sync to the watch. Really cool feature that a lot of people are going to love.
As someone living that dad life, this is a setting I really appreciated, since a lot of my runs occur either pre-dawn or post-bedtime. Basically, the backlight stays on during your entire nighttime activity, but at a level of brightness that won’t destroy the battery. And you don’t have to forget to turn it off, it’ll automatically do so after you finish your workout, or at sunrise.
Like all COROS models, the design is on point. COROS is the most intuitive of all the watches out there, with really no learning curve in navigating its systems. It all comes very naturally, which is why you won’t find a user guide with the watch or anywhere on the site. Trust me when I say you don’t need one.
As I’ve already alluded to, the app design is incredible. By far, it’s the best GPS watch app out there. Super clean and easy to use.
Lastly, I love the creativity of their watch faces (36 to be exact)! They look super cool, and whether you like a clean and modern look or a tachometer-style face, there’s something to suit your preferences.
While the nylon strap is fashionably appealing, you can imagine that it stays soaked with sweat a lot longer than a silicone band (which you can just wipe off). Also, the white is real easy to get dirty. I got some bike grease on it while putting my bike on the car rack, and well, yeah it’s not white anymore. Good thing the baseline model has a silicone band option, in both white and navy blue, as well as a nylon option in black.
A common complaint with all COROS watches, the screen is rather dim. For what it’s worth, you get used to it pretty quickly, and no matter what, the light always comes on with a wrist turn, so it’s really not that big of a deal.
Okay, so I loved the crown dial on the COROS Apex Pro and the COROS Vertix. It’s different, fun to use, and it’s large and in charge. It’s easy to use in almost any situation (although I still think it works terribly with gloves, despite what COROS says). That said, because of the small design of Pace 2, it’s kind of tiny and doesn’t provide the same enjoyment as the 46mm watches in the COROS family (from a tactile perspective anyway). I don’t hate that it’s there, especially since it streamlines the design across models, but it’s not as easy to use as I would like.
That said, I do love that there are only two buttons on the watch, and the actual function of the dial is great. I hate trying to remember what five buttons do on other watches.
If you’re just starting out running and looking for an entry-level GPS watch, this is your watch. It has everything you need and nothing that you don’t. It’s honestly a shocking amount of features for its price. I get the feeling COROS is going sell a ton of this watch, so get in on it before it’s back-ordered.
One last side note– COROS is insanely good with customer service. You’re at a sweet spot with the company right now, because they have a good enough track record of making quality watches, but they’re still a small company so they’re super committed to customer satisfaction. So much so, that if you’re in the COROS Users Facebook group, you’ll often find the CEO (Lewis Wu) personally responding to questions. They also use the group to aggregate feedback in real-time and are able to quickly solve issues and bounce ideas off their users, which is honestly pretty cool.
You can pick up the COROS Pace 2 now for $199 by using the shop links below.Shop COROS PACE 2