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Coros Apex review: 'Wow! Game changer!'

In November, I was fortunate enough to win a brand new Coros Apex 46mm in an online contest (thanks @Runspirited and @Coros)! I was thrilled with the opportunity to try this new watch. As an avid ultra runner, I’ve heard a bit about the brand, but mostly about the battery life. The Coros Apex 46mm lasts up to 35 hours in Full GPS mode and even up to 100 hours in UltraMax GPS Mode.

Truth be told, before I got my Coros, I was a dedicated Garmin girl. I’ve always had some version of the Fenix (most recently the 5). I grew to be comfortable with watches. They were a safety blanket when traveling into the realm of unknown distances. As I began to do races that took 12-plus hours, I learned to factor in charging mid-race as one of the many puzzles we must solve during an ultra.

Unfortunately, with the Fenix 5, Garmin changed the way the charging cord attaches. Instead of a flat clip, which you could slide between your wrist and the watch to charge on the fly, they changed it to a small plug that inserts perpendicularly and comes detached easily, so it’s basically impossible to wear the watch and charge it at the same time. I found a make-shift, off brand, charger on Amazon that was flat, but we all know how those things can go. Not an ideal situation.

It was not an ideal situation even before with the clip. When I’m at the point of having to charge my watch mid-race, I’m usually ridiculously tired. I’ve lost a lot of dexterity in my hands and really all of my patience for dealing with the nuances of technology. In many cases, I would go for an hour or two thinking my watch was charging, only to find the cord had accidentally become unplugged. At mile 80 of an ultra, when your brain is sleep deprived and your cognitive skills are little to none, this is beyond frustrating.

Coros is more than just amazing battery life

Needless to say, the Coros battery life. WOW! Game. Changer. The thing about Coros, which they boast on their website, is they make these watches for extreme conditions and extreme athletes. That’s not to say it won’t get you through a 5K, or even just count your steps each day – it’s definitely more than capable of handling the basics of a “fitness watch.” But the battery life makes it ideal for ultra marathoners.

Since getting this watch, I really have put it to the ultimate test with dog walks, snowy hikes, beach runs, short road runs, long hilly runs, swimming, hiking through sand dunes, and even a 24-hour race. With all of this, I have not experienced one problem. Not one scratch. No drop of water or grain of sand gone rogue.

Coros Apex: ($299-$349, 2 size options, 4 color choices)

Specs for the 46mm:

  • Display Size - 1.2 in. 240 x 240 (64 colors)

  • Display Type - Memory LCD

  • Screen Material - Sapphire Glass

  • Bezel Material - 46mm: Titanium Alloy

  • Straps - Silicone, Quick Release Bands, 22 mm

  • Physical Size - 47 x 47 x 11.9 mm

  • Weight - 55.3 g

  • Wireless Connection - BT4.2 BLE for smartphone only, ANT+ for accessories

  • Navigation - GPS, GLONASS, BDS

  • Sensors - Optical Heart Rate Monitor, Barometric, Altimeter, Accelerometer, Gyroscope, Compass

  • Water Resistance - 10ATM (100 Meters/328 Feet)

  • Working Temperature - 14°F to 140°F (-10°C to 60°C)

  • Charging Time - Less than 2 Hours

  • Battery Life Up to 100 Hours in UltraMax GPS Mode, Up to 35 Hours in Full GPS Mode, Up to 30 Days for Regular Use

  • Supported Workouts - Run, Indoor Run, Trail Run, Track Run, Mountain Climb, Hike, Bike, Indoor Bike, Pool Swim, Open Water, Triathlon, Gym Cardio, GPS Cardio, Ski, Snowboard, XC Ski, Ski Touring, Multisport

(Check out the Coros website and use code CAP-Howard to receive a free watch band ($30 value) with any watch. You must add both the watch and the band into the cart and apply the code at checkout to redeem the promotion.) Watch in action

  • The watch feels lighter and looks sleeker than my Fenix 5 but is also sturdy.

  • The digital knob, which is used to scroll, took a little getting used to, but coupled with the button, which is used for going back, it’s a nice, simplistic method of navigating the user interface.

  • There was a slight learning curve when dealing with a whole new user interface, but generally, I found it to be pretty intuitive and had it mostly figured out by the end of my first run. There wasn’t a point where I needed to dig through a user manual or ask Google how to navigate the watch.

  • The watch face settings were easy to program to my liking, with five data screens during activity, it feels like there’s really no limit to the amount of data you can view during your workout. My favorites being average pace, lap pace, lap time, time of day, mileage, gain, heart rate, stamina, etc.

  • I had no trouble reading the screen. It is the opposite of most other watches with white text on a black background, which can likely be attributed partially to the long battery life.

  • Speaking of battery life ... I wore the watch on a 10-day road trip in which we did two two-plus hour hikes, two dog walks, a run, and a 24-hour race. All of this, and I didn’t have to recharge once. When I finally got home and plugged it in, it was still at 18 percent after all of those adventures and not to mention everyday use as a watch.

  • The Coros connects to my iPhone via Bluetooth, which enables me to see when I’m getting calls (and even silence the ringer or refuse the call), read texts, see if someone rings my doorbells, read headlines, or I can turn this feature off if I want to enjoy nature and disconnect.

  • In terms of data accuracy, I’ve found it similar to Garmin. It has its hiccups here and there (i.e. barometric pressure messing with elevation gain readings), but I found it very quick to pick up satellites. Also, I found my distance, pace and heart rate to be pretty spot on.

  • The Coros app is super easy to use, as well, with all the bells and whistles when it comes to data and charts for you to look at your heart rate, lactate threshold, VO2Max, sleep patterns, training efficiency, etc.

Conclusion on Coros Apex

Pros: Amazing battery life, easy to use interface, accurate, sturdy, aesthetically pleasing, comfortable, lightweight.

Cons: A couple negative aspects for me, and I will give Coros the benefit of the doubt, as a younger company, I know they are continuously working on improving their watches (in fact there is a Facebook support group for Coros users, which includes Coros employees that you can reach out to directly with questions, desires, etc.)

  • Coros only calculates your active calories, or calories burned during activity. Whereas Garmin provides you with a daily TDEE. I find having TDEE over active calories much more useful when working on dialing in on my nutrition and to make sure I’m not over- or under-eating.

  • The number of intervals is limited to 64. For example, you could do 64 intervals of 10 minutes running and one minute walking, which adds up to about 12 hours. At that point, the program ends (a.k.a. your run ends). That is where the data would stop. For someone like me, who is doing 24 to 48 hours on a flat course, I need the ability to do more than 12 hours of intervals.

Overall, I would highly recommend the Coros if you’re looking for a new GPS watch and are also looking to run races 12 hours or longer. I have no regrets about giving up my Garmin and moving into the world of Coros!

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