Coros Vertix review: is this hardcore adventure smartwatch a Garmin Fenix killer?

Does the Coros Vertix deliver on its 'Garmin flagship killer' promise?

COROS VERTIX review: man running in studio setting
(Image credit: COROS)

T3 Verdict

The Coros Vertix is a competent adventure smartwatch: water rated up to 150 metres, built from high-quality materials and has an extremely long battery life. But while Coros delivers extreme physical solidity, the Vertix falls a little short when it comes to features and performance

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Excellent battery life

  • +

    Quality materials and build

  • +

    Advanced route and mapping features

  • +

    Cool carry case

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    Could use some more sport profiles

  • -

    Lacks everyday features

  • -

    No internal storage

I was warned before this Coros Vertix review that I shouldn't expect the watch to cater for casual users. You can tell that from the way the brand behind it insists on spelling it Coros Vertix, like it is shouting at you for being a casual noob. 

With less than impeccable timing, the Vertix is an adventure smartwatch designed for hardcore outdoor use. You could wear it when you climb a mountain, go skiing, swimming or running, at some point in the hopefully not too distant future. Granted, the Coros Vertix is an excellent watch for all of those activities, but fails to offer features for people who don't hike on a daily basis.

• Buy the Coros Vertix direct from Coros

It's really hard not to draw comparisons between the Coros Vertix and the Garmin Fenix 6 series. Both watches are branded as outdoor smartwatches and look uncannily similar. 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).

Although the Coros Vertix is slightly cheaper than the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro, it's not cheap per se. The non-sapphire glass version of the Fenix 6 Pro is £569.99, while the Vertix retails for £519.99, but the Vertix lacks features that would make it a real 'Garmin flagship killer'. You won't find NFC, music storage, or some of the more advanced sensors and features that Garmin packs into its watches to justify their prices. 

What you will find, however, is a premium smartwatch that can be used for a variety of outdoor activities and is clearly more than able to withstand the elements.

COROS VERTIX review: watch fastened to a backpack using a carabiner

The Coros Vertix can withstand some bashing around

(Image credit: COROS)

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, 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 straight forward and the simplicity of the navigation is admittedly one of the better aspects of the Vertix.

COROS VERTIX review: skier woman looking at smartwatch

The battery in the Coros Vertix will last forever

(Image credit: COROS)

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 Suunto 9 Baro 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 9's Ultra 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: man climbing a snowy cliff-face with a snow pick

The Coros Vertix is best suited for 'adventure type' activities, like wall climbing

(Image credit: COROS)

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: watch shown in the carrier case it comes in

The Coros Vertix comes in a hard case: neat!

(Image credit: COROS)

Coros Vertix review: verdict

I'm a bit confused about the Coros Vertix. It is a great watch: it feels solid, has great battery life, plenty of sport profiles, as well as good enough GPS and 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 wear almost every day. 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. The non-sapphire glass version of the Fenix 6 Pro is £569.99, while the Coros Vertix retails for £519.99. For an extra £50, you get NFC, 32GB of music storage, Garmin Coach adaptive training, VO2 max, stress and respiration estimation, on top of everything the VERTIX has to offer.

• Buy the Coros Vertix directly from Coros

Sure, the Coros Vertix has other admirable qualities too, namely the extra long battery life, the amazing water rating (15 ATM) and blood oxygen estimation, all in a lightweight yet rugged case. And, of course, the Sapphire glass, for which you will have to pay the premium with Garmin (Pro Sapphire costing £669.99).

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.