Thursday, March 7, 2019

REVIEW: COROS APEX Multisport Watch

If you've been around my corner of the InterWebs for a while, you probably know that I had been part of an ambassador team for a wearable GPS watch for many moons (over 4 years), but for reasons unbeknownst to us (yes, us... there were quite a few of us who were given "the boot" at the end of the year, such as @PavementRunner, @SharpEndurance, @Lindsey_Runs, @Keen_ForARun, etc) they decided to not renew our contracts for 2019. Although I've gotta say I was hurt, their loss is my gain. Now that I am no longer contractually tied to the company I am able to give other brands a try!

Toward the end of the year last year I started seeing some of my ultra, trail running friends on social media mentioning a new-to-me brand: COROS. Seeing as I was starting to dabble in the ultra world (I ran my first official 50-Miler in January and 50K in March) and fall deeper in love with the trails, I thought if it worked for them maybe it was worth checking out.


COROS is a sports technology company that thrives in the here, now and future. By applying the technology of tomorrow with the sports of today, COROS designs and engineers products to help athletes train with the quickness, intelligence and power to break barriers and achieve real results. The brand’s athletic gear and sports wearables empower athletes worldwide, providing more enjoyable, social, safe and performance-boosting outdoor sports and fitness experiences.


When I had gone on a trail run with Kat and Michelle in Orange County a few weeks before the Avalon 50/50, they both were raving about the APEX Multisport Watch. They loved everything from the super long battery life (in the normal GPS more it's said to last 35 hours and up to 30 days of regular use on a single charge) and workout features to the training analysis and ease of use. If these two rockstars loved it as much as they said they did, I thought it was worth looking into.

I received one of the snazzy APEX watches in the mail a few weeks ago and have been rocking it ever since it arrived so I could give you my official thoughts and feelings. I figured now that I've completed a couple weeks of training runs, plus an ultra race wearing the watch I was familiar enough with it to give you my unbiased and complete review.

I receive informed delivery notifications from USPS, so when I got the email the watch was here I ran right down to grab it.

I was so excited I tore into the box as soon as I got it!

Once I was able to get it upstairs I officially unboxed the watch (I may have jogged to get back to the house sooner). The packaging was simple and sleek. The box contained the watch, a charging cable and a quick user guide. Apparently COROS believes the watch is very user friendly because there weren't any additional directions in the box (for someone who is NOT tech savvy, this freaked me out a bit {I'm the type of person who reads the entire manual to make sure I fully understand how it works and all of its features before I turn it on}, but was hoping it wouldn't be too difficult to figure out).

The first thing I did was put the watch on the charger. Like I mentioned before, one of the big selling features of this watch is the battery life - so I wanted to make sure I was taking advantage of it and had it fully charged (which should take less than two hours to get a full charge from a dead battery). While I waited I downloaded the COROS app from the App Store (FYI - I have an iPhone but see they also have an Android app as well). One thing I found interesting was that COROS does not offer a web portal - everything is done through the app (which pairs via bluetooth to the watch). I'm not sure if one is in the works or not (it's definitely not a requirement to have one, I was just sort of surprised when I noticed there wasn't an option to do anything from your computer), but for now you access everything through the app on your phone.


A few things I noticed right away when I put on the watch. IT FIT MY TINY WRISTS! I was slightly nervous because when I was looking at the watch on the website before ordering it I noticed the holes on the band didn't go all the way to the watch face and I wasn't sure if I would be able to get it small enough to fit, but it was a perfect fit!

FYI I ordered the 42mm size. They do offer a 46mm which is larger (and also
has a larger battery), but I knew I would need to stick with the smaller size.

The watch face also seemed to be smaller than my previous watch, so it didn't seem sooooo large on my wrist (the physical size, in case you wanted to bust out your ruler and mock up what it would look like, is 45.00 x 45.00 x 14.45mm).


One of the drawbacks I noticed was the limited number of activities the watch has preset. It allows for Run, Indoor Run, Bike, Indoor Bike, Pool Swim, Open Water or Triathlon (seems as though COROS is targeting the running/ biking/ swimming/ triathlete market with this particular watch). Other activities I would LOVE to see included (which I have had on other multisport watches) are - hiking, yoga, strength training, walking (for our Walt Walk Streak), kayaking, stair stepping, floor climbing, etc. I guess for outdoor activities such as hiking and walking you would just select "run" and maybe for indoor activities like yoga, strength training, floor climbing, etc you could use the "indoor run" so it isn't using your GPS.


Another bummer I observed was the lack of ability to load customized workouts. While I am ultra training, most of my runs are strictly distance based (i.e. go out and run 24 miles, get in 12 miles, etc) so this isn't a HUGE issue (at least not currently), but when I am chasing PRs and I have speedwork on the running calendar, I like to load workouts in my watch (i.e. 6x800 + 4x400 with 2:00 rest between and a mile of warm-up and cool-down before and after). You are able to set up the watch with interval training (and even turn on a warm-up and cool-down option) {although I believe it is only one interval length for the "on" and one for the "off", it doesn't appear as though you can do different intervals}, but it seems you have to set up the intervals each time you want to change them (rather than saving customized workouts). I did receive confirmation this is something they are looking into for future firmware updates but don't currently support.


Now that we've gone over first impressions (Note: none of the things I mentioned make or break the watch for me, but, as you know, I've always gotta #KeepItReal, so since they were things I noticed I wanted to mention them, especially in case they are deal breakers for you), it's time to get into the important part - how the watch actually performs.


For the first couple runs, I actually wore the new watch on one wrist and my old watch on the other so I could see how they stacked up against one another. Before I get into the results, let me say that I do not know that EITHER is gospel Bible, so there's a definite possibility neither is 100% accurate, this is simply to show how the two systems compared.

24 Mile Run:
Distance - COROS APEX: 24 miles | Garmin Forerunner 935: 24.16 miles
Overall Time - CA: 3:41:37 | GF: 3:41:36
Average Pace - CA: 9:14/mile | GF: 9:10/mile
Average Heart Rate - CA: 151 BPM | GF: 153 BPM
Max Heart Rate - CA: 176 BPM | GF: 174 BPM
Average Cadence - CA: 184 SPM | GF: 182 SPM
Ascent - CA: 538 feet | GF: 567 feet
Descent - CA: 669 feet | GF: 695 feet
Calories Burned - CA: 1464 / GF: 1484

10 Mile Run:
Distance - COROS APEX: 10 miles | Garmin Forerunner 935: 10.12 miles
Overall Time - CA: 1:33:38 | GF: 1:33:43
Average Pace - CA: 9:22/mile | GF: 9:16/mile
Average Heart Rate - CA: 147 BPM | GF: 149 BPM
Max Heart Rate - CA: 170 BPM | GF: 171 BPM
Average Cadence - CA: 185 SPM | GF: 182 SPM
Ascent - CA: 354 feet | GF: 452 feet
Descent - CA: 476 feet | GF: 590 feet
Calories Burned - CA: 581 / GF: 697

45 Minute Indoor Run:
Distance - COROS APEX: 6.32 miles
Overall Time - CA: 45:00
Average Pace - CA: 7:08/mile
Average Heart Rate - CA: 159 BPM
Max Heart Rate - CA: 193 BPM
Average Cadence - CA: 183 SPM
Calories Burned - CA: 321

I was out of town, volunteering at a high school camp and had to get in a run. Because my volunteer shift started at 6am and I was unfamiliar with the area, I decided to run around inside a gym for 45 minutes. I used the "Indoor Run" option, even though it wasn't a treadmill. I only wore the APEX watch, so don't have comparables, but wanted to give a breakdown since some of the data seemed to be off from what I was expecting - especially the distance and pace. In fact, my average stride length for this run was almost a foot longer compared to outdoor runs (4.10ft vs 2.95ft, 3.38ft, etc).


I emailed my contact to see what they thought about the discrepancies. They said that they have noticed this come up a bit with some of their users, and believe that part of the reason they come up a little short is due to a smoother “track”. In some cases they may smooth out corners a bit too much, but you should also see far less “zigzagging” in your gpx file. COROS is using newer technology, and with new technology comes a new learning curve (pun intended ;)). They're constantly working on tweaking and perfecting their technology and believe in the end they're delivering accurate data.


After hearing back from my contact about the "rounding" that their technology does, I was interested to see how the two would compare when running trails (since there wouldn't be very many straight sections). The course was short because everyone missed a turn at one point, hence the not 31 miles on the distance, but I was more interested in the comparison.

Griffith Park Trail 50K:
Distance - COROS APEX: 27.28 miles | Garmin Forerunner 935: 27.71 miles
Overall Time - CA: 5:13:32 | GF: 5:13:38
Average Pace - CA: 11:30/mile | GF: 11:19/mile
Average Heart Rate - CA: 151 BPM | GF: 171 BPM
Max Heart Rate - CA: 187 BPM | GF: 196 BPM
Average Cadence - CA: 166 SPM | GF: 162 SPM
Ascent - CA: 4905 feet | GF: 5380 feet
Descent - CA: 4911 feet | GF: 5426 feet
Calories Burned - CA: 2108 / GF: 2615

As you can tell, for the most part these two watches are pretty close on all of the variables. On the runs where I rocked both watches (thankfully they aren't too heavy or bulking because I'm sure I would have been getting some weird looks from the people I passed), the COROS watch tended to record a slightly shorter distance (which then impacts your pace because you have a shorter distance being divided into the same time and calories because the watch thinks you are running slower and less distance than the other watch). The first few miles would be spot on but then, slowly but surely, the APEX would start dinging after the other watch (at first by only a couple seconds and the further in my run I'd go the longer the delay would be). Again, I am not saying that one is more accurate than the other (I'm not going out and physically measuring and of my routes... ain't nobody got time for that!), just worth mentioning.

And since you all know I am a numbers gal (I actually went into college thinking I was going to be a math major but then switched to Economics when I found out I only needed four semesters of calculus instead of six ;)), I was stoked to find out that the COROS app integrated with Strava, which still connected to my other important apps - like Charity Miles and MyFitnessPal. (It also integrates with Health Kit, TrainingPeaks and WeRun, but I don't use any of those so can't weigh in on the ease of use.) The syncing is super easy (as long as your watch is paired via bluetooth to your phone everything happens pretty automatically when you open the COROS app). I've noticed a few spelling or grammatical errors here or there (because I'm nit picky like that), but nothing that affects the functionality. You can see all kinds of variables like your fitness index, training load, sleep recorded, stamina level, calories burned, steps taken, etc. I'll be honest, for as much as I love numbers I haven't really gotten into the data yet, but am glad that it's there for when I want to take a look.


All-in-all, I am digging the COROS APEX Watch. There are a few features here or there that I'd love to have, but nothing that would prevent me from rocking this watch on a daily basis (whether running, racing or just relaxing) - and maybe the future updates will include those features. I'd say if you're familiar with the Garmin Forerunner series, this is very similar to the Forerunner 735XT which is geared towards runners, bikers, swimmers and triathletes. The price point for the two watches is similar ($299 for the COROS APEX 42mm, $349 for the COROS APEX 46mm and $349 for the Forerunner 735XT), but I have found the battery life far superior on the COROS watch (and seeing as I'm getting into longer distances, not having to charge a watch mid-run is muy convenient and appreciated!). {FYI The watch I used in my comparisons was the Forerunner 935, which retails for $499, so it makes sense there are a few additional features available for the extra $200 in cost. It's up to you if those options are worth the price.} I plan to keep rockin' my COROS APEX watch and think I need to order the HOT PINK watch band (I feel like the white isn't as "boring" as an all black watch, but I'm worried it'll get dirty super fast, not to mention you know how much I love me some bright, bangin' color!).


What features are MUST HAVES when it comes to a GPS watch?


Dawn said...

Just nosy. Did you buy this watch?
Also being nit picky about their grammar and you using effect instead of affect. Still love you. I think the 935 has amazing battery life so can’t imagine something being better. Wild.

Carlee McDot said...

Hey Dawn! I shared a disclaimer at the beginning of the review (it is an image, not sure if maybe that's why you missed it) that mentioned I was sent this watch in exchange for a blog post an IG post. [I actually purchased it, but after these requirements were fulfilled they refunded the purchase price.] And thanks for the effect vs affect - that's one I've never fully grasped! I changed it right away ;) Thanks for reading the review! PS I've had the watch for over three weeks now and have only charged it twice (and the second time I still had plenty of battery life but wanted to be safe since I was running a 50K and would have hated for it to die while racing).

Unknown said...

I have been wanting to try one of their watches, does this watch have smart phone notifications, like viewing text messages on the watch? Thanks for your review, very helpfull!

Carlee McDot said...

Hey Kristy. Thanks for mentioning the notifications. This watch does allow for them (you can have the alerts on for phone calls, texts, emails, app notifications, etc), but I turn them off because I don't like seeing them (I have done this on all watches that have the capabilities). You have the option to turn the watch on Do Not Disturb (which I do) from the watch itself or on the app you can pick and choose which notifications to have come through. Hope this helps!

Alexandria said...

Great review!! I really like the battery life as I have the fenix and definitely am not a fan of the battery

Christian Africa said...

Awesome review! very detailed. I didn't know this kind of review existed until i started stalking other people with Coros' Apex :D

I will order my APEX soon however I live in New Zealand so that might take a while.

i am also coming from Garmin. I particularly use Garmin fenix 5x. A lot of features will definitely not be on COROS but as long as Running is there and the numbers are correct and more accurate than Garmin i think i will be fine.

Thanks again!

Unknown said...

How are the advanced training metrics e.g vo2 max, stamina, aerobic and anaerobic etc are they accurate?

Rick408 said...

Hello I have the Coros apex watch . I was just wondering if anyone knows how to change km to miles

jamessmiths said...

Good watch!