I was one of the lucky few who got to spend some quality time with the new Coros Vertix 2 before its launch on 17 August 2021. When I say little, I mean little: 24 hours or so isn't enough time for anyone to perform an in-depth analysis of a watch as feature-rich as the Vertix 2. Still, based on my limited interaction with it, I'm as impressed as I was when I first tested the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro.
The comparison with Garmin's best outdoor watch is no mistake: put the Vertix 2 side by side with the Fenix 6 Pro Titanium, and it will be hard to tell the difference (see some images below). Of course, I'm exaggerating a bit here, but both watches occupy the same space on the wearable market: rugged, overpowered smartwatches for people with huge wrists.
I will try not to make this Coros Vertix 2 early verdict review all about the comparison between the two watches, and it won't be too hard as the Vertix 2 has a lot of great features of its own, some of which can't even be found in any other smartwatch yet. Should you get one? Sure, but read this review first.
Coros Vertix 2 review (early verdict): price and availability
The Coros Vertix 2 launches on 17 August 2021 in two colours, Obsidian and Lava, for the recommended retail price of $699.99 / €699.99 / £599.99. The watchband options available at launch are Coral, Grey, Yellow, Black and Green Navy. For more info, visit Coros US / Coros UK. No information is available about the Australian release at this point.
Coros Vertix 2 review (early verdict): design and build quality
The Coros Vertix 2 is a mahoosive watch.
It has a 1.4-inch Always-On Memory LCD with a resolution of 280 x 280 pixels (64 colours): "the largest screen ever on a Coros watch". The large screen supports up to eight data fields on one single page during an activity. Compare this with the Fenix 6 Pro's six data fields.
According to the spec sheet, the screen is touch-sensitive, but I found no evidence of it responding to my fingers prodding the screen, so I'm not 100% sure what the deal is here.
The display looks sharp and visible even without the backlight on, which is great, especially because, for whatever reason, you have to manually turn the light on every time as opposed to it coming on when you unlock the screen. Funnily enough, the Coros Pace 2 does this, so it might just be the case of turning a setting on I haven't found just yet.
The display is protected by a Sapphire Glass with a Diamond-Like-Coating (DLC) and therefore is scratch-resistant, something I haven't tried but the screen sure looks durable.
The bezel is made of Grade 5 Titanium Alloy with PVD coating, while the back cover is Titanium Alloy with PVD coating. Sandwiched between the two aluminium parts is a hardened plastic case that looks sturdy enough. Interestingly enough, the Vertix 2 is 'only' water rated to 10 ATM, compare this to the 15 ATM of the Coros Vertix.
Even the watchstrap is big: the Vertix 2 uses 26mm Quick-Fit bands, which is 4 mm wider than the band the Fenix 6 Pro uses.
Coros Vertix 2 review (early verdict): "All-satellite Dual-frequency GNSS chipset"
Probably the most notable feature of the Coros Vertix 2 is the "All-satellite Dual-frequency GNSS chipset". Coros claims that "The new chipset gives the Vertix 2 significantly higher accuracy in complex environments where you have limited satellite visibility, or where there is interference from large walls or buildings."
There are three different GPS modes: Standard GPS only (default), All Systems On, and All Systems + Dual FREQ On. Standard GPS mode is... well, standard. Same experience as what you'd get if you used a running watch that uses multiple satellites.
With All Systems On, the Vertix 2 can talk to all five major satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and Beidou) at the same time.
With All Systems + Dual FREQ On, the Vertix 2 can talk to all five major satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, QZSS, and Beidou) in two concurrent frequencies (L1+L5*) all at the same time.
I went for a quick jog yesterday to try out the dual-frequency GPS and the results were quite promising. Although the route of the run wasn't in an overly urban environment, the Vertix 2 tracked slight changes in movement, like when I crossed the road at a light. The watch picked up the signal pretty fast too.
I'll have more data for the full review but this looks very promising so far.
Coros Vertix 2 review (early verdict): features
Much like the Fenix 6, the Vertix 2 is an extremely overpowered smartwatch. I always think that watches like these are categorised as outdoor watches because they don't fit into any other category. Sure, the Vertix 2 has a global offline mapping feature, but it's more to showcase the 32GB internal memory than anything else.
Speaking of memory: the 32GB built-in storage can be used for storing offline content such as music, map, routes, workout data, and – of course – future firmware updates. I'm not going to list all the features of the Vertix 2 – I haven't got time for that – but among the more interesting ones, you'll find gems like ECG measurements, audio-enabled Bluetooth and music, Wi-Fi connectivity and even Insta360 Camera Control.
I tried the ECG, and it shows you the whole ECG diagram on the screen as you perform the test, which is fun to watch. However, ECG measurements are only used to measure stress and recovery levels, so not as a standalone reading, like in the case of the Withings ScanWatch or the Fitbit Sense.
This is because, unlike those two, the ECG sensor in the Vertix 2 is not "medical grade"; at least, it wasn't approved by either the FDA or whatever the European equivalent of the FDA is. Therefore, based on the ECG readings, the Vertix only gives you an HRV Score, which is kind of like a stress score.
The audio control is a tentative feature at this point; as Coros explains, it "allows Coros' engineers to build more audio-related features in the future." The same goes for WiFi connectivity; this will be added later on, probably soon. It would be nice to be able to update maps through WiFi and not Bluetooth, as it takes ages to use the latter option.
I tried the sleep tracking feature on the Vertix 2, and it worked great: spot-on measurement straight out of the box. That said, the display was lit up, or at least emitted some light, during the night, which was a bit annoying. Again, it might just be the case of me not knowing how to turn the display off completely, something I'll double-check for the full review.
Just one more thing: the Coros Vertix 2 features a new user interface similar to Garmin's widget view setup. It looks decent, especially on the large display the Vertix 2 has.
Coros Vertix 2 review (early verdict): battery life
I was blown away by the battery life of the Garmin Enduro when it first came out, but even that watch has nothing on the Vertix 2 when it comes to battery power.
The Vertix 2 will last up to 60 days in smartwatch mode, 140 hours in standard GPS mode, 90 hours in All Systems On mode and 50 hours in All Systems + Dual Frequency On mode. The UltraMax mode extends GPS battery life to 240 hours, but the Vertix doesn't track location every second in this mode.
Listening to music directly from the watch will affect battery life negatively, of course) but even with that, the Vertix 2 will last for 35 hours in Standard Full GPS mode.
I can't think of any other watches that come even close to these numbers. That 50 hours in dual-frequency mode is crazy: the Garmin Forerunner 745 will only last for 16 hours in GPS mode, and other, more capable GPS watches, such as the Polar Vantage V2, will max out at 40 hours.
Coros Vertix 2 review: early verdict
The Coros Vertix 2 is an impressive wearable. To some degree, it delivers the exact experience I expected, namely offering somewhat more advanced features than the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro for the same price. But this statement doesn't serve justice to the Vertix 2 as it's a great watch on its own terms.
It would help if Coros moved away from copying Garmin's physical design with some of its watches. The Pace 2 did this, and sure enough, that's one of the most popular watches in running circles now. I know there is only so much room a designer can have when coming up with wearable concepts, but I'd like to believe that room is slightly larger than what we see in the case of the Vertix 2.
Nevertheless, I think the Coros Vertix 2 will be popular among people who might consider buying such a powerful smartwatch. After all, it can be used as a flashy smartwatch, an adventure watch, a running watch and even a triathlon watch. The new dual GPS chip makes the Vertix 2 all the more enticing, not to mention all the other performance and convenience features such as ECG, sleep tracking, and the bazillion metrics and estimations found in the Coros App.
The asking price is steep, but I think it's justified based on the limited interaction I had with the watch. If you're happy to splash out this much money on a wearable, the Coros Vertix 2 is one of the best options you have.
Coros Vertix 2 review (early verdict): also consider
The Casio G-SQUAD PRO GSW-H1000 is also a Wear OS multisport watch that's equally as resilient as the Vertix 2 and certainly more stylish. Not like the Vertix 2 is ugly, but G-SHOCK watches have a certain charm to them. On the downside, the accuracy of the Casio is questionable. Read my full Casio G-SQUAD PRO GSW-H1000 review for more info on this rugged fashion wearable.
As a more budget option, there is also the Amazfit T-Rex Pro. Wallet-friendly and packed with tech, the Amazfit T-Rex Pro offers oodles of basic functionality but little in the way of sophisticated coaching or training tools. Read Mark's full Amazfit T-Rex Pro review.
Finally, you should also consider the Apex 2 Pro, the latest rugged outdoor offering from Coros. It 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. It might not be as premium-looking as similar offerings from Garmin, but for this price, that's far from being an issue. Read my full Coros Apex 2 Pro review today.