I have been testing the GPS-watch, COROS APEX for an extended period. And even if I wasn´t familiar with COROS until now, I was positively surprised about its many valuable features and the exclusive quality which this watch offers. COROS APEX is for me the best value-for-money GPS-watch in the market and if you read further, I will tell you why!
COROS APEX is the name of a multisports-GPS-watch originating from the world of trail - and ultra running. If that doesn´t ring a bell, its not really that strange as COROS is a relatively new brand which launched their first GPS-watch back in 2018. Nevertheless COROS can pride itself of having produced a watch with the longest battery life in the market! And if that is not enough to convince you, the watches are much cheaper than some of the similar models from other brands. This makes COROS into a sharp competitor for already recognized brands in the market.
COROS’ succes is certainly not diminished by the fact that they have succeeded in signing the marathon world record holder, Eliud Kipchoge, as their ambassador and a keen user of COROS PACE 2. That is evidence of world class quality when a high-profile athlete puts his trust in the watch in his pursuit of new records.
COROS APEX FOR THE RUNNER AND THE MULTISPORT ATHLETE
APEX IS THE COROS-watch suited for the widest target group. It measures all data, including steps, staircases, heart rate, calories, sleep, VO2 max, stride length, etc..
The watch has basically all the features and activity profiles which you need as a runner, triathlete, hobby exerciser or multisports athlete.
COROS APEX provides options for the following activities:
- Indoor Run
- Trail Run
- Track Run
- Mountain Climb
- Indoor Bike
- Pool Swim
- Open Water
- Indoor Rower
- Gym Cardio
- GPS Cardo
- XC Ski
- Ski Touring
A number of these features is usually more expensive!
If you are exclusively into running or triathlon, the cheaper COROS PACE 2 will cover all your needs, while you need to turn your attention to the more advanced - and also more expensive - COROS APEX PRO and COROS VERTIX for features like SpO2-measurement and Altitude Mode. Those two features are especially suited for the athlete who does mountaineering or activities where you stay at a high altitude and need to monitor your shape and your physiological health in those conditions.
You can benefit from checking out our table of comparison for the COROS-watches right here to get an impression of similarities and differences of the watches.
COROS APEX VS. COROS APEX PRO
For those who need more features than you get in COROS APEX, APEX is available in a premium version named COROS APEX PRO. The PRO-version does all the same things as COROS APEX, but has more battery life and advanced features focused around altitude acclimatization and watersports.
The extra activity profiles are:
The altitude acclimatization features include:
SpO2 indicates the amount of oxygen in the blood. COROS APEX PRO measures SpO2 levels through an optical sensor on the back of the watch. SpO2 levels are measured once every hour but can also be measured manually if you want to check your levels at a specific time. SpO2 is especially important for mountaineers and hikers who move in the heights. When you go up to an altitude of 2500 meters or more, the oxygen saturation will decrease and cause symptoms like altitude sickness. The purpose of the COROS’ SpO2-feature is to estimate altitude acclimatization at a given altitude.
Altitude Mode is a special tool for athletes who train and move in the heights. When you move above 2500 meters, the Altitude Mode is automatically turned on. Afterwards the watch will warn you to check SpO2 levels when your heart rate is either too high or too low based on your general fitness level. In that way the feature guides you in your acclimatization and tells you when (based on SpO2 and heart rate) you are ready to climb again.
In the Altitude Mode a measurement is made once an hour focused around your performance. Your performance is divided into three zones - a red, yellow and a green zone. If you are in the red zone, its recommended that you descend if you don´t feel well or have indications of altitude sickness. In the yellow zone its recommended that you stay in the current altitude until your body is acclimatized. If you are in the green zone, you are ready to climb further up the mountain.
You can turn on Altitude Mode manually but regardless the feature will be turned on at 2500 meter altitude to keep you from climbing too fast to prevent altitude sickness.
Other special features:
Breadcumb Navigation with touch-feature
With COROS APEX PRO you also have the option to navigate the breadcrumb map thanks to the touch-feature. In that way you can zoom in/out and move around in the map to study the route closely.
More smart features are included if you choose COROS APEX PRO, as you can see in the comparison article here.
COROS APEX IN SEVERAL EDITIONS
COROS APEX comes with a 42 mm and 46 mm desplay respectively. I tested COROS APEX 42 mm and my article is also based on that watch, Does it make a big difference? Yes and no.
While most things are the same for both the 42 mm og 46 mm edition, then you will find a difference in the size of the watches (evidently) and also in terms of battery life.
The battery life for COROS APEX 42 mm og 46 mm is as follows:
COROS APEX 42 MM
UltraMax GPS-mode: 80 hours
Full GPS-mode: 25 hours
Smartwatch use: 24 days
COROS APEX 46 MM
UltraMax GPS-mode: 100 hours
Full GPS-mode: 35 hours
Smartwatch use: 30 days
In terms of size you would typically say that the 42 mm version primarily fits a woman´s wrist and the 46 mm version a men´s wrist. But everything is relative and like we are different in size and weight, there is also a difference in terms of how much space you want a watch to take up on your arm.
COROS APEX 42 mm and 46 mm are the only COROS-watches that doesn´t have the so-called ’Backlight Always-On Mode’. This feature allows you to adjust the brightness of the display, so you have light on your display throughout your run. I missed that when I was running in low-light conditions. And I only needed to turn the rotary button to activate the light.
LONGEST BATTERY LIFE IN THE MARKET
Although I tested "the worst" version of the watches in principle in terms of battery life, I just gotta say: WOW!
Charging my watch has become something I very rarely do. I didn´t measure the battery life in minutes and seconds, but I just gotta say that there is a world of difference compared to ALL other GPS-watches I have owned. Its really crazy! I did several runs, walks, bike rides, several rounds of cardio-training in the gym…. You name it! Even after weeks of regular GPS- and smartwatch-use, the battery rarely went below 20%. So if you ask me, the battery life is definitely one of the best arguments for investing in a COROS-watch!
But what is the explanation for the extended battery life? The immediate explanation is:
1. COROS APEX doesn´t have music storage
Music storage and wireless playback from the watch to headphones is a cool feature! A feature which I personally miss in COROS APEX, because I run faster with music blasting through my ears. BUT! I am also aware that there is a lot runners and exercisers who don´t necessarily need music for their runs. And if you are one of those, this won´t pose a problem for you. Actually the lack of music playback was my only point of criticism for COROS APEX
2. COROS APEX doesn´t have features similar to Garmin Pay and stress measurement
These features are often a bit stored away and take up battery life. These are features that I certainly NEVER will use so I never needed them anyway. And if these features have been saved in order to save battery life, I just think its COOL!
3. COROS APEX only measure the heart rate every 10th minute in smartwatch mode
Its not really something I notice as I don´t sit around and check my pulse 24/7 - and I doubt anyone else does?
When you scroll to the display where you can check your heart rate, you´ll see your heart rate for the last couple of hours. And it will take only a few seconds before your current heart rate will be shown. During training you will of course have continuous tracking of your heart rate which makes sense as your heart rate during training is more important than during everyday activities.
COROS APEX – APPEARANCE DESIGN
COROS APEX does many of the same things as GARMIN FORERUNNER 245 among others. Unlike that particular watch COROS APEX, however, has a more exclusive design. Both APEX 42 mm and 46 mm has sappphire chrystal which is something you will only find in GARMIN’s more expensive FENIX-models. Sapphire chrystal is extremely tough and much more scratch-resistant than regular glass or plastic materials. In addition the dial is made in stainless steel with COROS APEX 42 mm and titanium with COROS APEX 46 mm. The latter can withstand most shocks but both watches are really robust. That kind of quality is much more expensive with the competitors - but I think that the robust design is a bit of a natural thing for COROS on the back of their origins in tral and multisports.
One of the things that sets the COROS-watches apart from other GPS-watches is the rotation-button. I certainly never came across such a device before! I took me a little time to get comfortable with it. My immediate impulse was to put two fingers around the button and start turning - but I quickly found out that my hand could hardly turn 360 degrees with the button - Instead you have to scroll with your index finger (just like you would do with a computer mouse).
Already after a short week it felt much more natural and it hasn´t bothered me since. The button also works as an ENTER/OK-button when you press it.
By default the watch is set up with a screen lock both in smartwatch mode and during training. I kept the screenlock in smartwatch mode because its nice knowing that I don´t unconsciously enter a lot of settings if the rotation button touches an object by accident. However, I changed from swiwel lock to just having to press the button for 3 seconds when I have to unlock the watch.
On the other hand I removed the screen lock during activity. First of all its hard for me to unlock the watch when I am racing and secondly its on the verge of being dangerous when someone as clumsy as me have to try to unlock the watch with just one hand on the bicycle handlebars. At high speed, in traffic.
But the watch fortunately has several different options, so you´ll certainly find the right one!
TRAINING WITH COROS APEX
If you look away from the fact that I had to work out without music in the watch, training with COROS APEX was a true pleasure. And I am not just saying that. Allow me to explain why:
- Excellent GPS-connection
In the past I have been standing for several minutes waiting for my GPS-watch to find the satellites. Its not the end of the world but when you want to get get going, you want to get going fast. And it takes hardly any time for COROS APEX to locate the satellites! I am deeply impressed. From the moment I press start to the time the watch has located the GPS-signal, probably only around max. 5-7 seconds will pass.
- The GPS-signal doesn´t fall out
Regardless if I was running in the woods or far out in country, the GPS-signal never fell out. In addition the heart rate measurement also seems far more real than what I had previously experienced with GARMIN VIVOACTIVE 3 MUSIC.
- Time of your breaks
If I pause an activity, COROS APEX will show how long time you paused for. This was perfect for me especially when I began my rehabilitation following an injury. During that period my workout programme could be 2x6 min. with 1,5 min. walking in between. And with the time of the pause on the display, I was sure that I stuck with the time I had to walk before I was allowed to start running again.
Its also an excellent feature when you are doing real intervals.
The time at the bottom on your left in the display shows how long the activity has been paused.
- Recovery time
For me who has been used to a GARMIN VIVOACTIVE 3 MUSIC, COROS APEX’ has a lot of performance related data providing better insights into your form and recovery. After my runs COROS APEX will provide me with an estimate of how long it will take before I am fully recovered and how long time I will have to wait ideally before I can work out again. And I have actually started organizing my workout accordingly. If my next training session is scheduled before I am fully recovered, I think about not performing to my max in order to give my body the best conditions for recovering.
- Training Effect
COROS APEX shows how long you have been in the aerobic and anaerobic zones during your training. This is used to find out how efficient the workout has been.
- Stamina Remaining
In AI Trainer I can find my energy levels. (In GARMIN its called Body Battery), where 100% corresponds to being fully recovered.
In AI Trainer I can also find my previous workouts. The watch doesn´t have endless storage room which is another reason for the extensive battery life. However, all my previous workouts is to be found in the COROS-app – its rare that I use them but its nice to know that I can find them there.
- Running Power
Some of the things that continue to pop up on my display when I upload my workouts to Strava is Running Power. Running Power shows my output in watts during my workout. Its another way of measuring your training performance and it makes particularly sense for trail running or when I have been running in hilly terrain, where tempo/pace doesn´t provide an accurate picture of the power and energy, you have put into it.
- Breadcrumb Navigation
If you are a trail runner or run in unfamiliar terrain, you´ll probably be excited about the COROS APEX’ breadcrumb navigation. Via the COROS app, I just create a running route, download it to my watch and then I am good to go. The watch then provides info on climbs and descents and guides me when I need to turn left or right.
The fact that COROS APEX has breadcrumb navigation means that the route will be a line you need to follow instead of a topographical map.
In total COROS APEX provides so many options for mixing up your training and analyzing it afterwards. And for me this is much more valuable than being able to make wireless payments with the watch or measure my stress-levels. COROS have succeeded in producing a GPS-watch which is completely focused around training even though you can of course also find the basic smartwatch-features as well.
While the training takes place directly on the watch, the summary of the development is to be found in the COROS app. I had to get used to the layout (just like with everything else), but having said that, I think that the COROS app (just like the watch) sticks with the most important data.
The app provides options of following the development of the training and your form over time thanks to graphs and numbers.
Among these numbers I find Training Load, Fitness Index and Fitness Level particularly interesting to follow.
Training Load shows the intensity of my workout based on my heart rate
Fitness Index shows resting heart rate, threshold heart rate, VO2 Max and threshold pace.
Fitness Level tells you about your form and your endurance. In addition the app provides options for learning more about your fitness level and what kind of training you should focus on to improve.
If you ask me, the most amazing thing about the COROS app is, however, that you can customize the data shown on the watch during activity (i.e. pace/tempo, time, distance, heart rate, etc.) – IN THE APP!! In basically all the GPS-watches that I´ve tried, you have to do it on the watch itself, which usually isnt quite as intuitive as the display is so small. In the COROS app I can choose the layout(number of data fields) ánd it is clearly shown which data I have the option to choose between.
There are also great options for personalizing the main display on your COROS APEX GPS-watch thanks to the many different dials available in the app.
HEAT MUSCLE MAP IN COROS APP
As in many other heart rate watches, APEX provides options to choose strength training as a training activity. But COROS differs by having Muscle Heatmap in their app. When I start the Strength activity in my COROS APEX I have to choose which part of the body, I want to work on (i.e. shoulders, core, etc..)
When you have done one or more sets (or more), the muscle group in question will light up on the fictitious body in the app. In that way you can always go back and press a certain muscle group to see when and how long you worked on the same muscle group the last time.
However, you have to move your arms while doing the exercise in question for the watch to register it as a repetition - even if its not the arms you are working on. After all, its quite logical that it takes movement for the watch to register a repetition.
COROS APEX is a multfunctional GPS-watch in high-end quality at an affordable price. At least if you check out the many activity profiles, training anlytical features and the robust design.
Its an excellent watch for runners and exercisers who want a GPS-watch to help them improve athletically. Most smartwatch and wellness features have been discarded to provide an enormous battery life to provide room for activities like trailrunning and specific features measuring your performance and guiding your recovery.
With the trail activity, running power, recovery time and other things, COROS APEX reaches out to a bigger audience than most other GPS-watches in the market at the same price. This is very rare - and exactly what should be your biggest incentive to make your next watch a COROS APEX!
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