I'm way overdue with this Coros Apex 2 Pro review. I've been sent the review unit before the launch, which, at this point, was over a month ago, but after receiving the review unit, I realised some of the key features hadn't been activated (e.g. touchscreen), so I decided to wait for the first-day update to arrive and spends some quality time with the latest Apex iteration before I write the review.
Then, Black Friday happened, and I had little time to test anything, let alone a sophisticated wearable – one of the best multisport watches, no less – such as the Coros Apex 2 Pro. Not to mention, after completing the London Marathon, it took me ages to recover, meaning I couldn't test the watch as thoroughly as I wanted. It's not like I didn't want to try the watch; I love the Coros Pace 2, and I generally rate Coros watches highly.
Although I called the Apex 2 Pro the 'anti-Fenix' in the headline, it's actually more of an anti-Enduro, aimed at long-distance trail runners, no less, like the Garmin Enduro 2. Don't get me wrong; the Apex 2 Pro also rivals the Garmin Fenix 7X, but its main archnemesis is the Enduro 2, so I'll be comparing those two in this Coros Apex 2 Pro review. For the record, the Apex 2 Pro might also be added to T3's best outdoor watch guide. Should you get one? Read on to find out.
Coros Apex 2 Pro review – Price and availability
The Coros Apex 2 Pro launched on 3 November 2022, alongside the Coros Apex 2, and is available to buy now from Coros for a recommended price of $500£500/AU$860. The cheaper, smaller Coros Apex 2 is also available to buy for $400/£420/AU$700. Check out the price widget at the top and bottom of this review for the best prices.
The predecessor of the watch, the Coros Apex, is available through third-party retailers and sells for a little less than the Apex 2. As you might know, the OG Apex came in two sizes (42 mm, and 46 mm) and was sold for around $350/£350. For the best prices, check out the widgets at the top and bottom of this Coros Apex 2 Pro review.
Coros Apex 2 Pro review – What's new?
The Coros Apex 2 Pro (and the Apex 2) is vastly different from its predecessor. Most importantly, the battery life has been significantly improved; the full-GPS battery life of the Apex 2 Pro is up to 75 hours (!), up 35 hours from the Apex Pro. It's ever so slightly under the battery life of the Garmin Enduro 2, which is up to 78 hours in all-satellite systems mode (96 hours with solar).
The optical heart rate sensor has been redesigned and now features Wear Detection, which is said to improve accuracy during aerobic training. The GPS antenna has also been tweaked and now offers 50% higher performance (whatever this means). There is support for all satellite systems for maximising signal quantity.
Global offline landscape and topographical maps have been added to the watch, which has probably nothing to do with the Enduro 2 doing the same thing; it's probably just a happy coincidence. You also get navigation with checkpoint support.
The display is now fully touch-enabled. The new Night Mode turns the watch face on at a dimmed light that can last for the entire night and automatically shuts off at sunrise. WiFi, Dual Mode, and Bluetooth 5.0 are available for maximum connectivity.
Finally, the Apex 2 Pro has heart rate variability support (Electrocardiogram sensor ECG // HRV) and a blood oxygen sensor that monitors your status at altitude.
Coros Apex 2 Pro review – Design and build quality
The Coros Apex 2 Pro is a sturdy smartwatch, as expected from a wearable marketed as a rugged outdoor watch. It has a Grade 5 titanium bezel, which, according to Hempel Metals, is the most widely used titanium alloy. Grade 5 titanium is said to be resistant to salt water, marine atmosphere and a variety of corrosive media temperatures below 300 ° C. The bezel is also PVD-coated, and according to Coros, it offers twice the scratch resistance compared to its predecessor.
The back cover is also titanium, while at the front, you'll find a sapphire glass lens protecting the display. Sapphire glass is generally regarded as the gold standard (sapphire standard?) in scratch resistance; many of the best Garmins use sapphire glass lenses. The Apex 2 Pro is also watertight; it can withstand pressure up to a depth of 50m (the Enduro 2 is water-rated to 10 ATM, for comparison). As you can tell, the Coros Apex 2 Pro is indeed a rugged smartwatch!
Interestingly, and it might just be me, the Apex 2 Pro doesn't feel as premium as the Garmin Enduro 2. It's probably due to the plastic part being so distinctively different from the titanium bezel. Garmin watches also have polycarbonate cases, but they are coloured similarly to the bezel/rear cover, giving you the impression it's all the same material. The strap and the hinges also feel cheaper than their Garmin equivalent, which is a real shame, although not surprising, considering the Apex 2 Pro is half the price of the Enduro 2. Some corners will be cut.
The 1.3-inch Memory LCD of the Coros Apex 2 Pro has a 260 x 260-pixel resolution and is more or less on par with the Enduro 2 (1.4-inch, 280 x 280 pixels). I prefer the display of the Pace 2; that feels more readable under bright light conditions, even without the backlight. Unlike the Pace 2, the Apex 2 Pro has a touchscreen display, although it's not the smoothest – it moves in a jerky fashion, which often made me use the buttons and the crown for navigation instead.
Coros Apex 2 Pro review – Battery life
Now, onto the main attraction: battery life. The Coros Apex 2 Pro has an insanely long battery life, rivalling the Fenix 7X and the Enduro 2. The claimed GPS battery life is 75 hours, which is reduced to 45 hours in All Systems On mode. In the former mode, the Apex 2 Pro uses only the GPS/QZSS systems, while All Systems On mode continuously monitors position using all five positioning systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, QZSS).
Listening to music on the watch significantly reduces battery life. In Standard GPS mode, battery life with music is a mere 17 hours (down from 75!) and 14 hours in All Systems On mode. Using dual-frequency mode, which also uses all five satellite systems, reduces battery life to 26 hours without and 11 hours with music (the Apex 2 hasn't got the dual-frequency chip). The battery life in smartwatch mode is up to a month.
Needless to say, after fully charging the Apex 2 Pro at the beginning of the test period, I didn't have to charge it again for a good three weeks. Full disclosure, I almost always turn off redundant features, such as blood oxygen tracking, when testing smartwatches to conserve battery life. I also often turn off the always-on display, which wasn't needed here. Finally, I started testing the Apex 2 Pro after running the London Marathon, and I wasn't abusing the GPS too much.
That said, everyone can expect the Coros Apex 2 Pro to last at least a couple of weeks, even with daily training sessions. The watch will last longer during the winter training period when most people jump on a treadmill instead of running outdoors. Don't forget to add the Coros Pod 2 for treadmill training, though!
Coros Apex 2 Pro review – Activity tracking and sports modes
The Coros Apex 2 Pro was designed with ultra-marathon runners in mind, and it's especially well-suited for runners who prefer to train and race off the beaten track. The wearable has many sensors for trail runners; these include a barometric altimeter, accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass, thermometer, pulse oximeter and electrocardiogram sensor. Most of these only really come in handy if you train at altitude, but it's nice to have them on board even if you don't.
As for sports modes, I'm not going to list them all – there are a lot – but there are a few specific ones that can be found on the Apex 2 Pro, such as the Multi-Pitch Climb (enhanced data tracking for multi-pitch and big wall climbing), Whitewater, Speedsurfing, Windsurfing, Ski, Snowboard, XC Ski and Ski Touring. Of course, you'll also find the standard sports modes on the watch, such as Run, Swimming, Cycling, Triathlon, Strength and more.
Coros Apex 2 Pro review – GPS performance
I was happy with the GPS performance of the Coros Apex 2 Pro. Truth be told, I mostly ran on the seafront when testing the watch, which is by no means a challenging GPS environment, but still, it fared well. I also happened to have the Coros Pod 2 with me when I ran with the watch, which helped tremendously with my pacing. If you have some extra cash, I'd recommend getting one of those, especially if you do a lot of interval training.
Even without the Pod 2, the Coros Apex 2 Pro can provide accurate GPS data, thanks to the dual-frequency chip, which, obviously, eats into the battery life. If you run in areas with a decent signal, it's best not to use the dual-frequency mode too much to conserve battery. Instead, I'd use the standard GPS mode and the Pod 2, although I appreciate that people who run at altitude off the beaten track might want to use the best GPS mode available, no matter how battery intense it is.
Coros Apex 2 Pro review – Heart rate accuracy
The Coros Apex 2 Pro features a brand new wrist optical heart rate sensor with a 5-LED system and four photodetectors, protected by a scratch-resistant cover. The algorithm has also been improved to remove more interference and noise so that the watch can provide better heart rate readings. And indeed, I found the Apex 2 Pro's heart rate sensor more accurate than the Pace 2, which has a less advanced sensor.
The Coros Pace 2 had the tendency to overestimate my heart rate at the beginning of the run; there was a spike, and then gradually, my heart rate normalised. This has never been the issue with the Apex 2 Pro. The heart rate chart in the Coros app showed steady changes, which I would expect when I go for a, well, steady run. It's worth mentioning that the algorithm prefers this type of cardio exercise over quick spikes in heart rate (most wrist wearables do), so the Apex 2 Pro might not be your best option for strength training. Not like anyone would buy the watch for that purpose.
Coros Apex 2 Pro review – Verdict
The Coros Apex 2 Pro is a brilliant, rugged smartwatch that costs half as much as its direct competitor, the Garmin Enduro 2. Coros is famous for offering similar functionality to Garmin for less, and the Apex 2 Pro fits this category nicely. It might feel as premium or last quite as long on one charge as the Enduro 2, but the Apex 2 Pro is worth considering for people on a relatively tight budget.
Of the two versions (Coros Apex 2 and Apex 2 Pro), it's hard not to recommend the latter; it might be heavier and more expensive, but the Apex 2 Pro is a better long-term investment than the Apex 2, as you'll have plenty of battery juice left, even as it declines over time. GPS performance is also better on the Apex 2 Pro, thanks to the dual-frequency chip. Not to mention the larger display with better resolution!
For not a lot of money, the Apex 2 Pro offers an updated heart rate sensor, dual-frequency GPS chip, plenty of trail running and outdoor sports features, rugged titanium and sapphire glass design, an okay touchscreen display, and a lot of training support via the Coros app and the Coros EvoLab.
The Coros Apex 2 Pro will surely appeal to people who liked the first iteration of the watch and are fans of the brand – a group that's getting increasingly numerous these days. I'd imagine Garmin users might not be swayed quite as quickly, but that's fine; there is room for two (three, four...) wearable brands in the outdoor watch market.
Coros Apex 2 Pro review – Also consider
Apart from the Fenix 7X and the Enduro 2, both of which have been mentioned throughout this Coros Apex 2 Pro review as an alternative, there are a few options you can consider should you not be convinced Coros' latest watch is for you.
The Amazfit T-Rex 2 is a significant improvement over the T-Rex Pro and has a larger display, longer battery life and better GPS chip. Sensor accuracy could be better, and the watch feels bulky on the wrist, but if you're on a tight budget, the T-Rex 2 is still worth considering as your next outdoor watch. Read my full Amazfit T-Rex 2 review.
How about the Polar Grit X? There are many features and training tools to love on the Polar Grit X, especially the extra insights that trail and mountain athletes will benefit from, such as Hill Splitter, FuelWise and WeatherWatch. It's lighter and smaller than you'd think a watch of this capacity will be, easy to navigate and boasts up to 40 hours of battery life in full activity mode. Read Tina's full Polar Grit X review for more info.
The Suunto Vertical has excellent mapping features, long battery life and excellent build quality. The added solar charging option is also a step in the right direction for the Finnish brand. The CPU could be faster, and the screen brighter, but overall, the Suunto Vertical isn't the worst option for outdoor navigation. However, there are plenty of alternatives available, which might make it harder to justify the asking price of the watch. Read my full Suunto Vertical review.