In the past few months I've had several people reach out to me asking how I like the Coros Apex watch. I've been meaning to write up a review for a little while now, but as we all know, life has a tendency to get in the way sometimes.
I first heard about the Coros watches from a friend, podcast host, 50-mile treadmill world record holder, and Canadian ultra-running stud Jacob Puzey. At the time I was discussing the possibility of working with him as my coach and I saw he was promoting the Apex watch. Jacob had good things to say about the watch so I reached out to Coros myself about possibly representing the brand as they grew. At the time they were not looking for any more athletes to directly partner with, but were looking for people to test out the watch, give feedback, and provide online reviews of the product. For this they offered a reimbursement of partial cost of the watch. I said sure why not. Although, after having the watch for over a year, I'm not sure if that's still on the table or not? Either way, I thought it would be helpful to some others in the running community to put down my 2 cents.
In general, the watch and most importantly the software has come a LONG way in the past year and I likely would have had a lot of different things (probably less positive) to say if I had written this after 1-2 months of using the watch. I was hoping to have the watch in time to use at the 2018 Desert Solstice Track Invitational race in Phoenix, AZ but unfortunately did not get it in time. Although, at that race, Camille Herron did use the Apex to set the women's 24 hour World Record where the watch was using GPS for the entire 24 hours and if memory serves me right, still had around 40% battery remaining afterward. Now, that's impressive!
If you're reading about the watch, it's likely because you've seen a story about the watch in the press, or seen some athlete you respect and follow on social media wearing the watch and saying good things about it. Truth is, they're not wrong. Ever since getting into endurance athletics I've been a Garmin customer. Not really by choice so much as by necessity. Garmin pretty much has a monopoly on the running watch market. Over the years, I've had countless errors with the watches and their recorded data. My Forerunner 910xt lost ALL of the data from my very first Ironman triathlon...thanks Garmin! I've also had dozens of long runs where the watch would just stop recording, be 10s of thousands of feet off in elevation gain, or simply not last long enough for the ultra marathons we all know and love. Over the years, Garmin has replaced over half-dozen of my watches due to errors, yet the same data loss errors continued to happen. What's the point in trying to record and use data for training if the watch decides not to keep it. Furthermore, 17 hours just isn't sufficient for endurance athletes any more and we're lucky that Coros has fixed that.
Now to the details. For me personally the biggest selling point was the 30 hour battery life in normal mode use (up to 100 hours in ultra-max setting). 30 hours on a GPS watch was basically unheard of at the time. The next biggest selling point is the $299-$349 price point which is half the price of many Garmin watches on the market! On top of that the watch is wicked light and almost half the weight of the Fenix 5x I had been using (55 grams vs 99 grams for the Fenix 5x)! The difference is remarkably noticeable.
The basic features are all pretty comparable to Garmin's line of watches. The biggest differences have come during the past year I've owned the watch. In early 2019 they added a pretty stellar mapping and route planning feature to the software. Now, it's not Google Maps, as you'll find in the Fenix 5x, but it's pretty similar and just as easy to navigate with. Since moving to Maine and running new roads and trails I've found this to be most useful.
One major problem I had early on with the Apex was with the watch stopping mid-run by accidentally and unknowingly hitting the bezel (more on that soon). Occasionally I'd find that not only had my run been stopped, but it had changed modes and restarted back up again in swimming or triathlon mode! Now that's not helpful to anyone and it really screws with your Strava stats! Luckily this was also fixed with a software update in 2019 where you have to spin the bezel to unlock it before you can press the button to make any changes or save the activity, etc.
Now, more about what you've been all wondering about: the 'little bitty' control bezel...
I'll start with saying that I support the ingenuity of trying something new on a running watch. Now, the stainless steel bezel is not impossible to use or get used to, but it does take some time and practice. For me it was a little challenging getting used to this one knob controlling basically everything you want to use the watch for. There is a lot of scrolling up and down with it. The biggest downside to the bezel is winter use. I run outside all winter long; roads/trails/snowshoes/etc. and the bezel is especially challenging to use with gloves on. Not impossible, but challenging and sometimes frustrating especially mid-race. For the summer runners who sweat a lot (I do not) I could see the bezel + slippery wet fingers being an issue, but not one that I've had problems with.
The optical HR monitor on the watch I have found to be pretty spot on most of the time. Although, in the winter again it doesn't seem to be as accurate and bounces around a bit (though I don't think this issue is unique to only Coros but probably most/all optical sensors). I know my HR zones and running enough to be able to glance at it and know if it's reading off or if it's reading true for the most part. Often after a couple of miles the sensor catches on and begins to read pretty accurately.
As I've noted, the GPS accuracy with Garmin was my biggest gripe. I've found that the Apex seems to be more accurate than my Garmin watches as compared to race courses, regular routes, vehicle mapping, Google maps, etc. When I've run with both watches on, the Garmin generally reads longer than the Apex. I have not had any issues with GPS failing during a run, stopping throughout a run, or with elevation whackiness (if you use a Garmin you know what I mean).
Overall I've found the watch to be very reliable, accurate, lighter, and a better buy than anything I've ever owned from Garmin. I've also watched Coros listen to their customers and make changes to the software and the watches to improve the user experience and technology. Based on my year with the watch, I will continue to use it as my everyday running watch and would highly recommend buying the Apex.
If you're considering buying a Coros watch, feel free to reach out to me here through the website, or through my social media channels for other questions I didn't cover here or in more detail.
You can also use coupon code "COROS-Soutiea" at checkout to get a bonus watch band with your purchase!
I hope this helps with your Coros research. Happy running!