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Coros Apex 2 Pro review: Cheaper sports watches are getting good

The Coros Apex 2 Pro is the latest version of the midrange GPS sports watch, with several design and feature improvements that make it a killer deal for less than $500.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer on
coros-apex-2-pro-9.jpg

Coros Apex 2 Pro

8.4 / 10
Excellent

pros and cons

Pros
  • Very long battery life
  • Lightweight design with premium materials
  • Digital knob for navigation
  • Improved heart rate tracking
  • Dual GNSS frequency support
  • Full-feature Coros Training Hub
Cons
  • Limited notification and app support
  • Can't stream music via Bluetooth/Wi-Fi

Those who have been following my work know that I love big watches. One of which, the Coros Vertix 2, has served as my trusted companion for more than a year. In fact, it took a place on my other wrist while I tested the Apple Watch Ultra during the 15K Tough Mudder. Now, Coros is back with the new Apex 2 and Apex 2 Pro, providing the same software experience as the Vertix but with hardware differences so that users can choose the size, style, and materials they prefer.

Since Coros launched its first GPS sports watch, stellar battery life has been a hallmark of its products, and the Apex 2 Pro continues that trend with an acclaimed 75 hours of battery life (with all GNSS enabled) and 25 hours with multi-band frequency enabled.

For those ratings, the Coros Apex 2 Pro offers a lot for half the price of its sibling, the Enduro 2, and is even more compelling when you explore the Coros Training Hub. Here's my full review of the latest contender in the GPS sports watch market. 

Specifications

Display 1.3 inch 260 x 260 pixels
Materials Sapphire glass, titanium bezel, plastic body
Storage 32GB
Durability 5 atm
Connectivity 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/BeiDou/QZSS
Sensors Accelerometer, Altimeter, Compass, Optical Heart Rate, Optical Pulse Oximeter, Electrocardiogram Sensor, Thermometer
Battery 75 hours (GPS and QZSS), 45 hours (all five), 26 hours (dual-frequency)
Dimensions 46.1 x 46.5 x 14mm and 53 grams (with nylon strap)
Colors Gray, Black, Green
Price $499

Premium materials and performance

Coros is known for producing watches with premium materials at prices less than Apple and Garmin. The Apex 2 Pro is no different, with a scratch-resistant sapphire glass display and a grade 5 titanium bezel and back panel. The sides of the watch are constructed with a plastic material that, while not as shimmery as glass and metal, makes for a durable exterior. 

Two buttons are found on the top and bottom of the right side, with a central digital dial that rotates and pushes in for navigating the watch. The dial has a clever design that supports input even with a gloved finger, making it easier to scroll through lists and settings when you're outdoors. 

More: Best sports watches you can buy

Coros Apex 2 Pro Buttons

Navigation is optimized with these buttons. 

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

I've been using the Apex 2 Pro for close to a week now, and the GPS performance has shown to be very close to the Garmin Enduro 2 and Apple Watch Ultra that I've been testing it against. Just as impressive is how the heart rate tracking is noticeably better than that of the $699 Vertix 2, while going toe-to-toe with Garmin and Apple's best. Not bad for a Coros watch that is hundreds of dollars less.

Coros Apex 2 Pro heart rate sensor

Quick-release pins and the improved heart rate sensor are visible on the underside.

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

One thing you can count on from Coros is updates for years. Right at launch, I received an update that added touchscreen capability to the watch. I was particularly happy to see that you can toggle between having touchscreen input always on or for the maps app only. Note that while the touchscreen works for scrolling, it does not work for taps that select items, meaning you still need to push the digital dial to make selections.

Coros is also planning to release a Route Planner to help you develop routes so that you can track your progress during travel. In the meantime, you can use third-party routing tools like Strava and Komoot.

Review: Coros Pod 2 helps you run faster and smarter

Coros app and Training Hub

The Coros app is available for iOS and Android, with the same interface appearing across both platforms. The app is used to manage all Coros products, including watches and connected helmets, with a series of updates over the years that has made the software experience better than ever.

For example, there is an entire Coros EvoLab section, customizable workout programs, training plans, muscle heatmaps, and more available within the application. To fully take advantage of the power of the Coros Apex 2 Pro, you'll want to dedicate time to modifying the app experience to your use cases. 

Then there's the Coros Training Hub, a web-based tool that provides customizable dashboards, EvoLab metrics, an activity list, and a training calendar. As a fan of viewing and analyzing data, it is awesome to check out all of the metrics and then work on ways to improve those metrics through training and exercise. It's a powerful tool for coaches and you can even create and manage teams of users.

Review: I put the Apple Watch Ultra through a Tough Mudder: Here's how it held up

Coros Training Hub Software

The Coros Training Hub offers detailed insights on your performance and metrics. 

Image: Coros

Unlike Apple, where your Apple Watch data lives on the watch and an iPhone, the Training Hub lets you use a computer or tablet display to dive into all of the details of your workouts, see your trends over time, and analyze your collected data to your heart's content. It's quite an empowering feature. 

Garmin has a similar web-based interface, but could certainly learn a few tricks from Coros and offer a diagnostic tool like this to its vast number of users. 

More: Coros launches web-based Training Hub: Free service for coaches and athletes

Coros Apex 2 Pro vs. Apex 2

The recent Coros launch saw two new Apex 2 watches, and while I focused most of this review on the Apex 2 Pro, the software and functionality of both watches are the exact same. The major differences, listed below, lie within the hardware. 

Coros Apex 2 Pro vs Apex 2

The watches come in premium materials and comfortable bands. 

Matthew Miller/ZDNET
  • Display: 1.3 inch 260x260 compared (Apex 2 Pro) to 1.2 inch 240x240 pixels (Apex 2)
  • GNSS support: Apex 2 Pro supports dual-frequency GNSS
  • Weight: 53 grams vs 42 grams with nylon band
  • Battery life: 75 hours in GPS mode compared to 45 hours
  • Onboard storage: 32GB vs 8GB
  • Maps: Preloaded vs computer download
  • Watch band width: 22mm vs 20mm

As for comparing the Apex 2 Pro with the original Apex Pro, there are major updates that include enhanced GNSS support, Wi-Fi, a new optical heart rate sensor, an additional control button, native music support, and sapphire glass build material. Coros did, however, remove ANT+ support, which may be an issue for some folks who use ANT+ accessories or other exercise gear supporting this technology.

Review: Coros Vertix 2 challenges Garmin with longer battery life, lower price, and dual GNSS support

Bottom line

Given Coros' track record with software updates, I expect to see further support for health and wellness features for the Apex 2 Pro

While the watch's app catalog is not as robust as ones from Apple, Samsung, or Google, it does provide remote camera support for Insta360 and GoPro cameras, which proved quite useful during my recent Tough Mudder event where I used the Vertix 2 to control the GoPro Hero 9 mounted on my head. This is one feature missing from Garmin and Apple watches and could greatly enhance the experiences for outdoor athletes.

Coros Apex 2 Pro Watch Face

A durable GPS sports watch that brings mass appeal. 

Matthew Miller/ZDNET

The Coros Apex 2 Pro is a solid GPS sports watch. That said, the similarly priced Garmin Forerunner 955 has better maps, common music streaming services, Garmin Pay, third-party app support, and more accurate GPS results. That said, for $100 less, the Coros 2 model at $399 is just as compelling of an option for users who are on the go. 

Alternatives to consider

The Coros Apex 2 Pro is a solid GPS sports watch at the $499 price, but it will get better with software updates. Here are a few other options in that same price range to consider.

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