Coros Apex 2 Review: A capable compact multisports tracker
The Coros Apex 2 is a big battery sports tracker that covers the basics nicely
The second-gen Coros Apex 2 GPS multi-sport is the cheaper stablemate to the Coros Apex Pro 2. Like its Pro buddy, it now packs a bigger battery life, new optical and ECG sensors and a revamped look. It’s also significantly more expensive than the original. So are the upgrades enough to warrant the price hike? We put it to the test to find out. Here’s our Coros Apex 2 review.
We hate to say it but Coros watches are getting more expensive. The Coros Apex 2 (£419/$399) follows that trend with a hefty price hike on the original Coros Apex 46mm (£299/$349) – particularly if you’re in the UK.
It now battles the likes of Suunto 9 Peak Pro (£419/£549), the more expensive Garmin Forerunner 955 (£479.99/$499.99) and the Polar Vantage V2 (£449/$499.95).
The Forerunner 955 is hands down the best all-rounder in that group. The Vantage V2 has the best recovery and training load features. The Apex 2’s main selling point is staying power. It packs a slightly bigger 45-hour GPS battery life than the Forerunner 955 (42 hours), the Suunto 9 Peak Pro (40 hours) and Polar Vantage V2 (40 hours).
The Forerunner 955 is the only watch in this selection that offers accuracy-boosting dual-frequency GPS smarts, too.
If you’re weighing up the Apex 2 vs the Apex 2 Pro, the sports tracking, training and navigation feature set is largely the same. The only thing missing on the Apex 2 is the multi-pitch climbing mode. However, the Apex 2 Pro offers dual-frequency GPS, has more than double the battery life, a larger screen, wider 22m straps and a chunkier design. For GPS and heart rate accuracy, the Apex 2 is more than a match for its pricier buddy.
At just 42g with the nylon strap, the Coros Apex 2 is light, compact and comfortable for all-day wear. It’s well-built, with three colour options (black, grey and orange) that make it more exciting than some multi-sport watches. It’s also a better looker than the original Apex.
The 43mm case houses a 1.2-inch, 240 x 240 resolution, Sapphire glass, always-on LCD touchscreen. That screen is a bit small and slightly lower resolution than the Apex 2 Pro, so things can get busy with too many stats on screen. But it’s bright and legible enough in most lights without being particularly punchy, sharp or remarkable.
Outside that display, you get the same durable, scratch resistant PVD-coated titanium alloy bezel and stainless steel cover.
The touchscreen is responsive in the dry with the usual battles in the wet. But we mainly opted for the easier digital dial and buttons.
Under the hood, there’s a familiar sensor array including optical heart rate and pulse oximeter, barometric altimeter, 3D compass, gyroscope and thermometer. There’s also a heart rate wear detector to weed out rogue readings.
Like the Apex 2 Pro, the Apex 2 now also packs the ECG sensor tech you find on the Vertix 2. Electrodes in the digital crown take heart rate readings and power new Heart Rate Variability Index insights.
There’s a choice of swappable nylon and silicone 20mm straps. The nylon strap gets our vote. Having these fixed on one side also makes it much easier to get a good fit compared to Garmin, where you have to adjust both sides. Though the strap is still a touch scratchier than Garmin and Apple watch straps.
The Coros Apex 2 is water-rated to depths up to 50m, so it’ll cope happily in the water. And it’ll track underwater heart rate, though with mixed accuracy.
The Apex 2 essentially carries the same features as the pricier Apex 2 Pro. Running, cycling, and swimming are all well-catered for. Runners get indoor, trail and track modes, along with running power from the wrist. For swimmers, there are indoor and outdoor modes and there’s a triathlon mode to cater for the swim–bike-runners.
The Coros EvoLab post-workout training tools and recovery insights are nicely comprehensive and, in terms of what they track, are starting to rival Polar and Garmin. The watch and partner app serve up a really good mid-workout and post-training detail, though we find some of the more sports science-y insights overlap and get a little confusing.
For example, you get recovery, fatigue and training load readouts. There’s also a race predictor, VO2 max estimates and threshold zones for more dialled-in training. If you need a little guidance, you can also dip into pre-planned workouts and training plans.
A major new addition to these tools is the Heart Rate Variability Index. This reveals how your body responds to the stresses of training and daily life. The watch takes regular HRV reads using the optical sensor. But you can also do manual 1-minute tests using the new, more accurate ECG sensor. This provides more reliable meaningful data than the continuous HRV testing you might find on Garmin.
We tested the Apex Pro 2 and the Apex 2 HRV side by side and the automatic readings were often significantly different. The manual readings also regularly failed completely on both devices and regularly gave different readings.
But more importantly, the Apex 2 struggled to match the rise and fall of the trends from the gold-standard HRV4Training app.
When it comes to navigation, with the Apex 2 you have to download the full touch-scrollable TOPO maps. That smaller screen makes it pretty hard to follow routes and that makes the lack of turn-by-turn navigation a bigger miss here. You only get deviation alerts when you’ve taken the wrong turn. If you wander too far off-piste, there’s back-to-start routing and you can add checkpoints along the way, too. If you’re a Komoot user, you can also find, plan and sync routes to the watch.
Unsurprisingly, the smartwatch skills aren’t a match for the Apple Watch or Garmin’s increasingly clever watches, but the Apex 2 does the basics and a bit more.
Simple smartphone notifications, neat extras like action camera controls and Find My Phone and Find My Watch functions. But no Garmin and Apple-style smart payments and there’s no app support like you’ll find on those platforms either.
Music is currently limited to offline storage and playback (you have to transfer MP3s like it’s 2006) and you can control your smartphone music, too. But there’s still no music streaming. Which looks like more of an omission when you take the price into account.
Like the Coros Apex Pro 2, the Apex 2 does the basics well enough to make it a competent training partner.
The GPS performance was solid. Across our tests, it virtually matched the Apex 2 Pro for overall distance and real time pace response – even though the latter offers multiband GPS. In our half marathon race test, it logged 13.11 miles to the Apex 2 Pro’s 13.3 miles and the Garmin Enduro 2’s 13.19 miles.
The optical heart rate sensor was a good match for the pricier Apex 2 Pro, too. Up against the Garmin Run Pro and Polar H10 chest straps, it was a much closer match for the averages and max heart rate. However, like most optical sensors it sometimes lagged behind on sharp shifts in intensity on interval sessions, and picking up rests.
The Apex 2 sticks to Coros’ tradition of making battery life beasts that go forever.
The official Coros Apex 2 battery life stats claim 17 days daily use, with up to 45 hours in full GPS mode. That drops to 30 hours with All Systems tracking.
In our tests it didn’t quite live up to the official billing but this is still a watch that’ll last roughly two weeks on single charge with a decent volume of GPS training thrown in.
We got 12 days of usage with around 4.5 hours of GPS-tracked workouts in various modes. One-hour runs and rides in All Systems GPS mode averaged around 4%, that’s a little short of the listed 30 hours. However, a 3-hour workout in All Systems GPS mode burned 11% and that’s virtually bang on the listed 30-hours.
Hour-long workouts in regular GPS burned 3% which is a bit faster than the 45 hours claimed.
The average overnight battery burn was just 1%, so not major overnight issues.
Coros Apex 2 verdict
With bigger battery life, a much-improved design and some new HRV/ECG skills, the Coros Apex 2 is a decent upgrade on its predecessor. A good multi-sports all-rounder, it does the basics well and even matches the pricier Apex 2 Pro for GPS accuracy and heart rate. Reliable if not remarkable.
A good multi-sports all-rounder and bang-for0-buck, the best of the Apex 2 bunch.
Big battery life
Compact & light
Comprehensive training insights
No turn-by-turn navigation
No music streaming
Coros Apex 2 tech specs
|Battery life:||17 days (GPS 45 hours)|
|Size||43.0 x 42.8 x 12.8mm|