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30 g (with nylon band)
39 g (with silicone band)
Up to 24 days (smartwatch mode)
Up to 38 hours (standard full GPS mode)
MEAGHAN: I was chatting with a friend the other day about the intimate relationship we have with our GPS watches. I mean, these things go everywhere with us. They’re there for the PRs, the DNFs, great workouts, bad workouts, and everything in between. Without them, we’d be lost — literally. So when the opportunity to test the new Coros Pace 3 arrived, I was excited but a little hesitant. Would all the new updates (new-generation GPS, touchscreen, updated heart rate sensor, and so on) be worth ditching the memories attached to my wrist for the past two years? Let’s take a deep dive.
RYAN: Like Meg, I have a close relationship with my GPS watch. I switch phones frequently (it comes with the territory of my day job), so I just never got into the ecosystem-specific land of smartwatches. I couldn’t spend money on an Apple Watch or a Samsung Galaxy Watch only to change my smartphone operating system the next week. With that in mind, I jumped into the world of GPS watches with the Coros Pace 2.
Man, that was a great watch. It was feather-light, easy to navigate, and, perhaps most importantly, reasonably priced. It was a $200 option in this sport of running that’s never as affordable as we make it out to be. However, just like I have the chance to try out different phones, I have the chance to test out GPS watches from other brands at the same time. As such, I took an extended vacation from Coros while I figured out which watch was best for my needs.
Now, I’m back. Like Meg, I was drawn to the Coros Pace 3 for a combination of its updated features and my own history with the series. I wanted to see just how many upgrades the company could pack into a tiny, still light, and still low-priced package. Would the Coros Pace 3 offer enough to keep a place on my wrist? Let’s find out.
MEAGHAN: Originally, I was slated to test the Coros Apex 2, but as soon as I picked up the Pace 3, I knew this was the better option for me. This thing is LIGHT, I’m talking 30 g, which I don’t even really understand. You’ll definitely forget this thing is even on your wrist.
I was most eager to test out the next-generation GPS. The satellite accessibility now includes the five major satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, Beidou, QZSS) with dual frequency for the most accurate signal possible. This is the same accessibility as in the higher-tier watches like the Apex 2 Pro and Vertix, and it only took one run for me to realize this was a serious upgrade. Typically running through Baltimore, I’d hit areas where the GPS would go a bit haywire, and my map would come back with some questionable lines. The Pace 3 didn’t falter at all, which is easily seen on my more recent Strava maps.
Although battery life wasn’t a huge concern of mine, it’s really nice to know that I can run for 38 hours without ever charging it. That’s like… a month’s worth of running. Pretty, pretty good.
I’ve also never been into heart rate training, but I do like to see data around big efforts. The new HR sensor is designed with a five-LED/four-photodetector unit that puts it on par with the Apex 2 and gives me a better understanding of what easy pace really is.
RYAN: I mean, Meg nailed the main points of the Coros Pace 3. This thing is freakin’ light, but it doesn’t cut corners when it comes to tracking or battery life. In fact, the Pace 3 actually houses a slightly larger battery than its predecessor, thus the four extra days of smartwatch mode juice.
After a long time away from Coros, I forgot just how nice it is to navigate with a single button and a rotating crown. There are times when I’ll be running with a Garmin on my wrist and start to fumble with the five buttons dotted around the case, but never with Coros. It’s a breeze to press and hold the crown in order to unlock the watch, and then it’s extremely responsive with twists up and down.
If you’re not about the twist and shout, Coros’ new touchscreen is a nice addition, too. It’s only active during workouts by default, but you can toggle it to always-on from the settings menu in case you’d rather be able to swipe all day long.
Meg also pointed out the revamped heart rate monitor, which is a massive change. The Pace 2 had a teeny, tiny little sensor that barely had room for its LEDs and photodetectors, but the new sensor takes up practically the entire back of the case. It’s the same one that you’ll find on the Coros Heart Rate Monitor, and it uses green lasers to keep a read on your pulse. I had no issues with the accuracy during my runs with the Pace 3, and the readout typically matched my data from other GPS watches when comparing head to head.Shop Coros Pace 3 (Nylon Band) Shop Coros Pace 3 (Silicone Band)
MEAGHAN: Give me an accurate GPS and the ability to program workouts and I’m pretty happy with a GPS watch. I have no complaints on the Pace 3.
RYAN: In general, I agree with Meg. There’s not much to complain about when it comes to the Coros Pace 3, especially when you consider that this watch is only $229. However, there are a few things that I’ll point out just in case this is your first GPS watch.
For starters, 24 days of battery life in watch mode and 38 hours in GPS mode is the best-case scenario. In reality, you probably won’t hit either mark, especially if you have the touchscreen set to always-on. This isn’t really a bad thing — the Pace 3 still smokes the battery life you get from either the Apple Watch or Samsung’s Galaxy Watch; you just have to be somewhat conservative if you want to hit the top-end results.
Also, while you probably won’t damage the Pace 3’s plastic case unless you really wipe out wrist-first, metal is becoming more common on watches these days. It’s not too hard to find a GPS watch with a stainless steel or titanium bezel, which will put up with a bit more abuse, especially if you’re an avid climber or a trail runner. Granted, Coros has more adventure-focused watches for those scenarios, but it’s worth keeping in mind.
One last point, which is more of a reminder than anything, but the Pace 3 doesn’t allow you to respond to notifications. You can read texts and the basic parts of emails, but that’s about it. Personally, I prefer to respond on my phone anyway because I need that sweet, sweet full-sized keyboard, but just don’t jump into the Pace 3 expecting in-depth notification responses.Shop Coros Pace 3 (Nylon Band) Shop Coros Pace 3 (Silicone Band)
MEAGHAN: The Coros Pace 3, which only costs $229, is the perfect GPS watch for the entry-level runner to the pro (just ask Emma Bates). Now with updated GPS, a touchscreen, an accurate heart rate monitor, longer battery life, and on-device music capabilities, the Pace 3 is basically a high-end watch with a low-end price tag, and you should get one.
RYAN: I know I picked out a few more of Coros’ flaws than Meg did, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Pace 3. It really is an excellent value at $229 when you consider just how much extra tech Coros packed into its tiny frame. Heck, the only reason I’d tell you to wait before picking one up is because I’m sure Coros will come out with cool special edition models and restock the all-red track edition colorway soon.
You can pick up the Coros Pace 3 for $229 from Running Warehouse (featuring free 2-day shipping and 90-day returns) using the buttons below.
Meaghan signed up for her first marathon three weeks before the race, because it was $10 more than the half she planned to run. She learned everything in running the hard way. Now a USATF & UESCA certified run coach, she loves encouraging friends to go for big goals as she continues to chase faster times. She enjoys a hot cup of coffee, a cold martini, and making bagels for friends and family.More from Meaghan