REVIEW: COROS APEX 2 Pro Smartwatch
Written By: SportsShoes
FOR TRAINING AND TRAILBLAZING
With an even more durable exterior, redesigned GPS antenna for stronger performance, enhanced navigation experience, next-generation optical heart rate sensor, and longer GPS battery life, the APEX 2 and APEX 2 Pro watches are the most powerful wrist-worn tools to guide your training and track your movements across the wilderness. Get ready to train smarter and go longer.
|Weight||66g with Silicone Band / 53g with Nylon Band|
|Dimensions||46.1 x 46.5 x 14mm|
|Display size||1.3 Inch|
|Display resolution||260 x 260 (64 colors)|
|Display type||Touch Screen Always-On Memory LCD|
|Screen material||Sapphire Glass|
|Bezel material||Grade 5 Titanium Alloy with PVD Coating|
|Cover material||Titanium Alloy|
|Battery (GPS/QZSS)||75 Hours connects to GPS and QZSS|
As a Garmin user for the past few years, I was excited to test and review the new COROS APEX 2 Pro to see exactly how it compares to similar models in the Fenix range.
First impressions? Very positive. I'm a big fan of the size of the watch face, mainly because I have very thin wrists. So, in terms of comfort and fit, it's absolutely perfect for me. I also love the nylon band. Again, very comfortable to wear, fully adjustable for a personalised fit and ultra-secure, with enough velcro tabs to hold it in firmly in place, especially during exercise. It's easily the best nylon strap of any GPS Smartwatch that I've ever owned.
Aside from the fit and feel of the watch, COROS try to keep things simple. Having a limited and focussed range of watches means it's really easy to identify which model best suits your needs. All of the models are really easy to use too. There are no complicated menus to navigate and the combination of the buttons and scroll option on the main dial means that someone like me (who doesn't read instructions!) can easily figure out how to access and use all the features without having to pick up a 500-page manual (although instructions are available if that's your thing). You can easily change settings on your watch using a few simple clicks - even with gloves.
Additionally, there is the option of switching between touch-screen and the buttons/dial to control and navigate the menu choices. Personally, I'm an old skool button and dial kinda guy, but now and again I will use the touch screen if I'm feeling adventurous.
And the best thing? COROS regularly update their software and these updates are both FREE (my favourite word) and available for every watch across the entire range, from the PACE to the most advanced VERTIX 2. As most of you reading this article will know, this isn't always the case for every brand that makes smartwatches.
THE COROS APP
Like all COROS watches, the COROS App is beautifully simplistic - music to my ears!
All the features are easy to access, from basic data and personal information, to workouts and route planner. Favourite and most used feature for me are the workouts. I can quickly plan training workouts on my phone, including warm up/cool down, interval sessions, repeats and set HR zones/Speed/Time. Syncing with the smartwatch couldn't be easier. Once built in the app, one click of a button and it instantly sends the workout to my watch and I'm ready to go.
I have also connected my Training Peaks account to my COROS app, which means all of my training sessions appear on my calendar and I have a clear visual of what I need to do for the day and what workouts I need to build. I also quite like checking out my daily biometric data like HR, Training Load, Fitness Level and Sleep duration and pattern.
The APEX PRO 2 is the perfect watch for all sports, and lets you switch with ease between popular disciplines thanks to built-in activity profiles for running, cycling, swimming, hiking, trail running and many more. It's compatible with advanced workouts for indoor running, indoor cycling, mountain climbing and even pool swimming. To be honest, aside from Trail Running, Running, Hiking and Cycling, I've not used any of the other options, but I do like the fact that the settings are customised to each. For example, the Running options have an Auto-Pause option, Activity alerts for things like HR, Nutrition, Cadence, Pace, Distance etc. which all serve as handy mid-exercise reminders to slow down, speed up, eat, drink etc.
GPS FEATURES AND MAP NAVIGATION
Acquiring a GPS signal and heart rate takes a matter of seconds for your watch to find, so you don't have to wait around long before you can head out of the door to start your run. With the Apex 2 Pro, you're free to go wherever your activities take you - it receives signals from all five major satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, QZSS) which can track better in more challenging environments than GPS alone. Whether you're on or off road, the network capabilities help you track how far, fast and hard you've run. The watch can give you exact GPS coordinates, air pressure and estimated elevation to give you a more clear location.
I often plan my routes before I set off on a run. If it's on local trails I don't really need the map feature, but figure it's always good to practice every now and again, because if I travel or want to run somewhere new then I know how to use it.
Like building workouts and training sessions, route planning with COROS is unbelievably easy. Simply open the app, start drawing your preferred route, and let Route Planner choose your optimal path based on the closest trails or streets available. Check distance and elevation, save it, transfer it to your watch, or share it with your friends.
I can create a route, upload it and start running within a matter of minutes. It's also really easy to follow the routes on your watch by selecting the 'Navigation' option and viewing the map whilst you run. The digital dial makes it easy to zoom in and out of your map, while the touchscreen allows you to drag the map with your finger, allowing you to see the route in close detail and never miss a turn. In addition, you can also choose the direction of your run, set an alert to tell you if you deviate from the route and view the elevation details to get a feel for the course in terms of profile and progress made. Prior to testing, one of my concerns was how good would the mapping feature be and how clear would it look on a relatively small screen? The answer; excellent! Maps are displayed in full colour and in fantastic detail. The feature is really easy to use and it's very clear to see and follow planned routes.
Currently, the COROS ecosystem is compatible with popular 3rd party route builders, such as Strava and komoot. With free global offline Landscape and Topographical maps, you can access critical navigation information in the most remote locations.
During activity, it's also possible to access additional features like the on-screen compass, find my iPhone and even connect with and control your GoPro or Insta360 to take photos (if you have one).
In terms of trail running safety, I'm told that work is well underway for a tracking safety feature to be added to the watch and app. This will let the user to set up an emergency contact/s to receive alerts during an activity and allow them to track your progress on a route. Vitally important should things go wrong, so I'm very pleased that COROS are working hard on this feature. As with every other software update and tech feature, it will be available on all COROS devices.
Pictured: GB Ultra-Trail athlete Elsey Davis wearing the COROS APEX 2 Pro
WRIST-BASED HEART RATE (HR)
On your wrist, Heart Rate (HR) technology built into the watch lets you monitor your HR without wearing a chest strap. The HR sensor features a 5-LED system with 4 photodetectors in a customized layout to provide you with accurate readings. In addition to counting steps, the watch uses HR to access recovery speed after intense activities and determine how prepared your body is to take on the stressors of the day. These readings are also vital for helping the algorithms in the software to work accurately to provide insights like suggested workouts and race predictions for recognised distances etc.
In all honesty, if I want the most accurate heart rate readings, then I will still always choose to wear a HR strap and this smartwatch is compatible with every brand of chest strap models. However, it is worth mentioning that the wrist-based HR in the APEX 2 Pro is still pretty damn accurate (I have cross-compared readings from both) and in-built HR readings will only continue to improve in smartwatches as technology advances in the future. One day (hopefully soon), chest straps will be a thing of the past.
DESIGNED FOR DURABILITY
A sapphire glass screen and grade 5 titanium alloy bezel protect the electronic components inside the APEX 2 and APEX 2 Pro. While the sapphire glass stays virtually scratch-free, a new PVD coating offers 2x scratch resistance on the bezel compared to its predecessor.
The APEX 2 pro is Water Resistant - stays dry in any condition and provides protection against rain, snow, puddles, mud, you name it. Built with 5 ATM water resistance, this watch also withstands pressures up to a depth of 50m.
It's also Temperature Resistant, built to handle any climate, anywhere. The APEX 2 Pro works in on-wrist operating temperatures ranging from -20℃ to 50℃, so you can really test the limits of exploration.
IMPROVED BATTERY LIFE
I use my COROS every day, but I only have to charge it every 2-3 weeks. Thanks to the low power consumption from the latest satellite signal system design, the GPS battery life lasts much longer compared to the original APEX. The APEX 2 provides 45 hours of full GPS battery life, while the APEX 2 Pro provides 75 hours. Plus, it takes less than 2 hours for the watch to go from zero to full charge.
In short, it doesn't matter which distances you like to cover in training and races. From 5K to Ultra-distances, this watch is a perfect companion for them all.
APEX 2: 80% Longer GPS battery life.
APEX 2 Pro: 88% Longer GPS battery life.
Pictured: GB Ultra-Trail athlete Jon Albon testing the COROS APEX 2 Pro
Over the last few years, COROS has emerged as a true industry leader when it comes to making smartwatches and it's easy to see why. Built on a philosophy of putting the customer first, it's clear that this is a brand in touch with their target audience, one that listens to feedback and most importantly, acts upon it. From beginner to pro, all athletes are catered for in terms of their performance needs.
With so many GPS smartwatches on the market, it's often difficult to choose and understand which model is best suited to you. With COROS, it's clear and simple. And, as previously mentioned, I love the fact that no matter which of the models you own, everyone can enjoy the same benefits from regular software updates.
In terms of price, COROS devices present outstanding value for money when compared with similar products from competitor brands. A smartwatch with a comparable specification to the APEX 2 Pro could easily cost you £200-£300 more. Just another reason why I highly recommend all COROS products.
In summary, if you are in the market for a new GPS device for running (especially trail), then I would advise you to seriously consider the COROS APEX 2 Pro (or indeed any of models in the range); it's a smartwatch very difficult to beat based on price, design and performance.
Not sure which COROS watch is for you?
- PACE 2: For athletes who want to go fast and far. The PACE 2 was the lightest GPS sportswatch on the market at its launch and boasts an impressive 20 days of regular use on one charge. Internally, it has a barometer, compass and an optical sensor for 24/7 heart rate monitoring. It gives you full training plan and workout support and recently was upgraded to include breadcrumb navigation.
SHOP ALL COROS PACE 2 MODELS NOW
- APEX 2: For outdoor athletes who train hard and move fast, designed for performance over all types of terrain. With an even more durable exterior, redesigned GPS antenna for stronger performance, enhanced navigation experience, next-generation optical heart rate sensor, and longer GPS battery life.
SHOP ALL COROS APEX 2 MODELS NOW
- VERTIX 2: For Adventurers who got to the extreme. All satellite dual frequency GNSS support an impressive 60 days of regular use or 140 hours of full GPS on one charge. It comes with global offline maps for on-wrist navigation and can operate normally down to -22*C. It also helped Kilian Jornet escape a potential disaster on Mt. Everest.
SHOP ALL COROS VERTIX 2 MODELS NOW