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Review: COROS APEX 2 Pro sports watch

Written by Fiona

April 10 2023

I have been testing the COROS APEX 2 Pro sports watch. COROS is a brand that is starting to become a more familiar sight in the UK. Many people like the prices of the watches because you get a lot of features for your money.

As usual for a modern sports watch, the COROS APEX 2 Pro sports watch has many, many features. Most are what you would expect so I won’t list them all because you can take a look at the website for the full details.

  • Case size: 46.1 x 46.5 x 14mm
  • Weight: 52g (with nylon band); 66g (with silicone band)
  • Display type: Touch screen always-on memory LCD (260 x 260pixel)
  • Water rating: 50m depth
  • Bezel: Grade 5 titanium alloy
  • Hard plastic sides
  • Sapphire glass watch face
  • Connect with all five major satellite systems
  • In watch mapping – landscape, hybrid and TOPO
  • DualFrequency GNSS chipset – COROS was the first GPS watch company to bring this tracking to market. There is an informative article about this technology but basically it offers much better GPS tracking accuracy.
  • Battery life: 30 days of regular use/75 hours of full GPS
  • Best use: Trail running, hiking, skiing
  • List price: £449 (note, if you previously bought the watch at £499 and you apply before May 31, there is a £50 credit back.)
  • See COROS and buy on Amazon and SportsShoes (I receive a small commission for sales through Amazon and SportShoes.)

My thoughts: COROS APEX 2 Pro sports watch

The COROS APEX 2 Pro sports watch is a fairly neat looking GPS sports watch, especially when you consider the battery capacity of 75 hours in “standard” mode.  The titanium alloy bezel seems to be durable and scratch resistant. The bezel is also PVD-coated, which means, according to COROS, it offers “twice the scratch resistance compared to its predecessor”. The screen is sapphire glass, which is also hard wearing.

It also has a back made of titanium and this is where the wrist heart sensor is found, as well as the COROS-specific USB charging plug. 

While the watch case is 46mm diameter, the face size is 33mm, which is slightly smaller than other GPS watches, such as the Garmin Enduro, but the screen is bright and clear.

The sides are made of hard plastic, which is a bit cheaper looking than other sports watches that have a metal casing.

The depth of the watch is a fairly chunk 15mm, although many GPS watches are quite deep, so this is not an unusual feature,. The watches are larger than ordinary watches because of the battery.

I like the stretchy nylon velcro strap, which is easy to adjust and comfortable. When the strap gets wet it does take a while to dry out but you would expect this for a nylon material. I recommend the silicone strap instead.

The weight is 45g plus a 7g strap, which is 52g in total, or 66g total with a silicone strap. (To compare, the Garmin Enduro is closer to 60g).

There is a choice of three watch colours and there is a choice of what the watch face looks like.

The buttons that operate the watch are worth a mention. There are three buttons on one side and you can choose whether these sit to the right or the left of the watch as you look at it. This allows you to wear the watch on your choice of wrist and decide if you want the buttons on the inside of the watch, or the outside towards your hand. The watch achieves this by offering an option to flip the face of the watch.

The buttons have a variety of functions. The top one turns on a back light. This button can also be set to go straight to a widget function that you will use a lot, such as the compass.

The middle button is called a “digital dial” and this is how you unlock the watch. It takes three seconds to unlock by pressing it in. This might be annoying if you are in a rush but it also means the watch is protected from being accidentally started and stopped. (This happened when using the Suunto 9 Peak pro watch.)

Note, you can set up the unlock button on the digital dial to “hold to unlock, or scroll to unlock, or it can be disabled altogether.

This digital dial also allows you to choose one of the many features of the watch. Turn it clockwise or anti-clockwise.

The range of sports modes you can record is vast, including most you might imagine, as well as some unusual ones, like Speedsurfing (whatever this is!) and Multi-Pitch Climbing. 

This digital dial gives you access to some system settings, as well as a history of activities completed, training plans and workouts (if you have them loaded via the app).

The dial is really good once you get used to it.

Pressing and holding the lower button takes you to a range of widgets and features, for example, settings, camera control, find my phone, map, navigation, compass and oximeter. There is even a metronome mode, which I think runners might use for keeping to a set cadence.

The watch also has a barometric altimeter, which is the considered to be more accurate than using GPS to measure details such as elevation gain, especially when there are small elevation gains.

There is training support from the COROS app and COROS EvoLab.

The COROS APEX 2 Pro sports watch is also wifi enabled, which means firmware updates can go through the watch rather than via the app. I am not sure if there is an advantage to this.

The bluetooth function allows the watch to sync with the phone app, as well as other accessories such as headphones and a chest heart rate sensor and a COROS Pod, which is a cadence/step measuring device. 

The watch has 32GB of storage, which means there is room for the global off-line maps, both of the landscape and topographical types.

Other features to be aware of because they are useful include being able to use the touchscreen to move around the map, a “deviate alert” if you are off route, back-to-the-start route finding, GPS co-ordinates, elevation details and a “set checkpoints” option that can be used to tell you where, for example, aid stations will be in races. 

You can now plan routes in the app as part of a new update. You can also upload GPX files of routes from other apps, such as from Strava or Komoot. 

One negative is that there is currently no turn-for-turn navigation. COROS have this planned as a future update but they can’t say when this will happen.

What’s the COROS APEX 2 Pro sports watch like on the trails?

Once I got used to the buttons of the COROS APEX 2 Pro sports watch, I liked them. I really like the digital dial. The touchscreen facility is fine if you have bare hands – ie no gloves – but on the move and in the colder months, I used the dial a lot more.

One thing though is stopping an activity. It took me a while to get used to holding the digital dial for three seconds although I have now realised you can turn this off or set it to be a scroll rather than a hold. The “hold” setting does prevent the activity being accidentally stopped though.

I like that the screen is bright and clear when the back light is on.

The wrist optical heart rate sensor with a 5-LED system appears to read my heart rate as accurately as other watches with the wrist function. It works as you wear it. I don’t believe a wrist heart rate monitor is as good as a a chest strap but it’s much easier to use on a daily basis.

There are other health tracking option, such as a HRV (heart rate variability) reading in the mornings to tell you how well you have recovered overnight and whether you will be able to perform well in an activity that day.

Another reading is spO2, which measures oxygen saturation or the amount of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood relative to the amount of haemoglobin not carrying oxygen.

Plus there are measurements of lifestyle habits, such as sleep, calories burned and steps.

It’s important to point out that these sorts of measurements will not be as accurate as a scientific laboratory tests but they do offer a basic understanding of fitness, health and recovery.

Now let’s take a look at mapping. The maps _ landscape, hybrid and TOPO – are already loaded on the watch, which is really good, although I had to request a firmware update so that the satellites found me in Scotland.

Thankfully, the email communication with COROS support was very good.

Note, these maps are not the same as OS maps and so there are fewer details. I also found they work better when you are on trails compared to urban areas.

The satellites do take a while to connect – up to 30 seconds – which is annoying. My Garmin watch is almost instant, in comparison.

I am not sure why there is a delay but it could be because the watch trying to lock on to the satellites, or it could be explained because COROS saves battery life compared to most competitor brands by reducing the heart rate sampling frequency and intensity. This means that when starting a workout, it takes a bit longer for the heart rate to lock on -– and then the GPS.

The mapping allows you to follow a course on the watch but you don’t get turn-by-turn prompts as you do with other watches. I would much prefer it if the COROS watch did do turn-by-turn. Although, if you do go off course, the watch alerts you and points you in the right direction to get back on to the route.

The digital dial allows you to zoom in and out of the map and you can use the touchscreen function to move about the map. Both of these features are ok but not brilliant.

In my opinion, a map on a watch will always be limited because of the size of the watch face, I usually use a map app on my phone for better route finding (as well as an actual map!). I like breadcrumb routes on my watch just as a prompt or aid.

The COROS app has lots of information and data to browse. In fact, there is far more data than I would ever bother to look at but it’s all there if you need it.

Battery life is the other important consideration when buying a GPS sports watch. This is an area that has progressed a lot and as battery sizes have got smaller, so too have the watches.

COROS state there are 75 hours of battery life in standard mode, when using GPS/QZSS systems for location accuracy. You might choose the standard setting when running or cycling on in open countryside or on tarmac roads. 

But if you want more location accuracy, such as in a wooded area or where there are tall buildings, you can switch into the All Systems On mode, which continuously monitors your position using all five positioning systems (GPS, GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo, QZSS).

There is another setting, with a DualFrequency GNSS Chipset and with all systems on, that gives 25 hours of battery life (again, according to COROS).

I found that listening to music on the watch quickly reduces the battery life. 

If you simply use the COROS Apex Pro 2 as a smart watch with short daily activities and you have most extra functions, such as blood oxygen tracking, switched off, you’ll get up to 30 days of battery charge, according to COROS.

I didn’t need to charge the watch for 2.5 weeks and used it for daily GPS tracking of walks and runs of between an hour and half a day. 

I’d say that all the stats claims made by COROS seem believable. It is actually quite difficult to measure because it depends where you are running, how many times you stop to look at the map, how frequently you zoom in and out etc

With regards to the GPS tracking, it does appear to be accurate. I used the All Systems on GPS setting for most of my activities because I often run where there are trees. I compared data info between brands and models of watches when running with my friends and accuracy seems good.

Conclusion: Overall, I’d say you get a great GPS watch with lots of features for the money. The battery life and GPS accuracy are good. There are a few wee annoyances including GPS / heart rate lock-in time, no music streaming and no turn-by-turn routing. It’s well worth a look at the COROS sports watches if you are in the market for a new gadget.

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