I was warned before this Coros Vertix review that I shouldn't expect the watch to cater for casual users. It's a hardcore adventure watch, so I was told, that's best suited for people who climb icy mountain walls before they have breakfast and finish the day by freediving for a couple of hours.
And while – sadly – I'm not this person with such an exciting lifestyle, I really enjoyed testing the Coros Vertix.
And while it's an excellent watch on its own terms, it's really hard not to draw comparisons between the Coros Vertix and the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, something I'll do a lot in this review (just a heads up). Both watches are branded as outdoor watches and look uncannily similar. Also, they both have a sturdy, solid case, a scratch-proof glass at the front and even some of the built-in sensors are the same (e.g. altimeter, barometer).
Is the Coros Vertix a good multisport watch and, most importantly, should you buy it? This is what I'll try to din out in this Coros Vertix review.
Coros Vertix review: price and availability
The Coros Vertix is available to buy now at Coros for a recommended retail price of $599.99.
This is a reasonable price for a such a high-spec watch but it's far from being cheap. It's also worth mentioning that although the physical specs of the Vertix are brilliant, it does lack non-adventure features you might find in other rugged smartwatches such as contactless payment, music storage etc.
Coros Vertix review: build quality and ergonomics
Much like the aforementioned Garmin Fenix 6, the Coros Vertix is a sturdy and well-built smartwatch. Yet, it is also surprisingly light: the case weighs only 54 grams. This is probably due to the high quality materials being used for the watch: the bezel and the case are titanium and the glass is Sapphire with a "diamond like coating".
Again, it's pretty much impossible not to compare the look and the feel of the Coros Vertix with the Garmin Fenix 6. Apart from the depth of the case – the Coros Vertix is slightly thicker than the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro – the dimensions are almost carbon copy of each other. The VERTIX measures 47 x 47 x 15.6 mm while the Fenix 6 Pro's case is 47 x 47 x 14.7 mm: go figure.
The screen resolution is 240 x 240 pixels and uses 64 colours. The contrast and the fonts reminded me of the Suunto 9 Baro Titanium, but not in a bad way. As default, the Vertix is trying to give you a lot of info with the text being just ever so slightly on the small size, making it a bit more challenging to read the display without glasses/in broad daylight. Both the text size and the number of text fields displayed can be changed in the settings, however.
The Coros Vertix comes with a silicone band as default and – you guessed it – the width and length of the band is essentially identical to the Fenix 6 Pro's strap; even the buckle is the same size, not surprisingly.
Where the two watches differ, though, is the navigation. You can operate the Coros Vertix using the two push buttons and the multifunctional turn dial, unlike the five-button setup on the Fenix 6. The button on the top of the VERTIX is for toggling the light only, while short pressing the button at the bottom will take you back to the main screen (or the previous screen). Long pressing the 'back' button will grant you access to the menu where you'll find settings and features like the compass and the blood oxygen monitor.
You can unlock the menu by turning the dial and once the watch is unlocked, you can scroll through the different screens on the watch, which there aren't many to be fair. You can access the sport modes by pressing down the dial while on the main watch face screen.
All is pretty straightforward and the simplicity of the navigation is admittedly one of the better aspects of the Vertix.
Coros Vertix review: battery life
Where the Coros Vertix really shines is battery life. In this respect, it compares to the best in class running watches in this category: namely the Garmin Enduro and – of course – the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro. The battery will last for a whopping 45 days considering "regular use", so if you don't use the watch for more than two days a week for GPS tracking, you won't have to charge it more often than once a month. Take that, Apple Watch Series 5.
Even in full GPS mode, the Coros Vertix can last up to 60 hours, that is 60 hours of GPS tracking, friends. If you wear your VERTIX for your runs only and you run an hour a day, every day of the week, the watch will be able to track over 8 weeks-worth of runs. Crazy.
There is also the UltraMax mode, similar to the Suunto's 'Tour' mode, which extends the battery life even further. In UltraMax mode, the VERTIX will last for 150 hours, ideal for hiking and long distance walking. How does the UltraMax mode work in the Coros Vertix work? Like this: "for every 2-minute period, the GPS data is recorded for [only] 30 seconds. The Vertix relies on motion sensors, machine learning algorithms and individual running model for the remaining 90 seconds." Easy.
Coros Vertix review: activity tracking and precision
There are 18 different sport modes available on the Vertix, which is adequate but I still missed some obvious ones, like "walking" or 'strength training'. There is a 'hike' profile which could be used for walking, but when you have different profiles for 'ski' and 'XC ski', it's a bit puzzling why some more everyday profiles have been left out. For comparison, there are over 40 sport profiles available on the Fenix 6 Pro.
As for precision, the Coros Vertix uses two satellite systems to track position: GPS and GLONASS. The chip is accurate enough and I had no issues tracking my runs in urban areas. I haven't had the chance the test the VERTIX in the Himalayas, mind, so can't tell you how well it tracks position in more remote locations.
Heart rate tracking seems pretty accurate, considering the Coros Vertix uses a wrist-based optical heart rate sensor. As always, a lot of factors can have an effect on the precision of this type of HR sensors: amount of hair on the wrist, sweat, tattoos, how the watch sits on the wrist etc. But all things considered, the Vertix provides realistic readings.
Better still, in the Coros app, when you analyse your runs, you can check the heart rate against your cadence, pace, stride length and elevation, all on one diagram, which is pretty cool. The Coros app is okay to use and it has third party sync option as well so you can upload your workouts automatically to Strava, extra brownie point for that.
Coros Vertix review: verdict
The Coros Vertix is a great watch: it feels solid, has great battery life, plenty of sport profiles, as well as good enough GPS and an accurate heart rate sensor. Yet, it feels like something is missing; or, more like, it always falls just a little short to deliver the top-tier experience it promises.
The more I think about it, the more comparison I draw between the Coros Vertix and the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, a watch I wore quite a lot. They both occupy the same space in the fitness wearable market and cater for similar people: the hikers, skiers, trail runners and mountaineers. They look very much alike too: same width, length, straps, you name it.
Yet, Garmin offers more options to get the watch you want – there are 18 different versions of the Fenix 6, after all – and also have more features for a slight premium. For a little extra money, you get NFC, 32GB of music storage, Garmin Coach adaptive training, stress and respiration estimation, on top of everything the VERTIX has to offer.
Sure, the Coros Vertix has other admirable qualities too, namely the extra long battery life, the amazing water rating (150 ATM) and blood oxygen sensor, all in a lightweight yet rugged case. And, of course, the Sapphire glass, for which you will have to pay the premium with Garmin.
Should you get the Coros Vertix? Absolutely. If you are after a no-frills, hardcore adventure smartwatch with excellent build quality, you'll find what you're looking for. The Coros Vertix offers plenty for the asking price, even though it misses out on a few easy features.
Recommended for: trail runners, hikers, bouldering enthusiasts, mountaineers.
Coros Vertix review: also consider
Want something lighter? The Coros Pace 2 is hands down one of the best running watches on the market today, especially since the Coros App update. This, combined with the already impressive features of the watch, such as measuring running power on the wrist, makes the Pace 2 almost irresistible to runners on a tight budget.
If you're on a tight budget, you might want to consider the Amazfit T-Rex Pro. This watch offers oodles of basic functionality but little in the way of sophisticated coaching or training tools. It's not without flaws but for the price, it's certainly good enough.
There are many features and training tools to love on the Polar Grit X, especially the extra insights that trail and mountain athletes are going to benefit from, such as Hill Splitter, FuelWise and WeatherWatch. Weighing 64 grams, it’s lighter and smaller than you’d think a watch of this capacity is going to be, easy to navigate and boasts up to 40 hours battery life in full activity mode.