For the last decade, the throne of GPS watches has been decided by an annual bout between two heavyweights: Garmin and Suunto. Each year, these perennial powerhouses roll out a new iteration, competing for online reviews, editor's picks and the court of internet opinion. But that is about to change.
After launching its first watch — the Pace — just four years ago, Coros has made rapid ground on these industry giants. The secret sauce helping the brand break into the longstanding duopoly? A detailed focus on what the user actually needs rather than every unnecessary bell and whistle. The all-new Apex Pro is the perfect example of this mantra, serving as an efficient multi-sport watch that takes aim at being better at what it does instead of trying to impress with an overcrowded suite of features.
The Apex Pro has an easy-to-use interface, solid navigation tools, an accurate wrist heart rate monitor and and insane battery life, all at a much lower price point. Together, these features cover the needs of the majority of users, while keeping the price down, and in turn, offering one of the best deals on the market.
What’s Good About the Apex Pro?
This Coros GPS watch is exceptionally accurate
I started my trial period with the Apex Pro by putting the GPS to the test, running a warmup route on a canopied trail, followed by a track workout to see how similar each loop would look in the data once complete. To my surprise, the Coros GPS watch excelled at both, tracking the trail portion within 1 percent of the measured distance and, using the algorithm, cleaned up all the track data in an impressive fashion. Only dual-frequency GPS watches can give you more accurate GPS tracking.
The navigation tools make finding your way simple and convenient
I also enjoyed the navigation tools available with the Apex Pro. Coros recently rolled out a software update — which are frequent and seamless — that unlocked touch navigation. While I haven’t tested this added feature much, it does feel unique, and likely will improve over time. The standard navigation tools come with an altimeter, barometer and compass, on par with any competitor. Like the watch, the Coros app is simple and intuitive, too. It integrates with third-party apps easily, unlike other closed systems like Garmin Connect.
What’s Less Than Ideal About the Apex Pro?
The bare-boned profile might offer too little for some enthusiasts
If you’re someone who wants every whiz-bang possible, the Apex Pro isn’t for you. When compared to other top-tier multi-sport watches, the ecosystem comes up a little short. Health metrics are lacking and you can’t pay from your watch — like with Garmin and Apple. Additionally, the Apex Pro is unable to store or play music, offers no virtual training partner mode and cannot charge via solar power.
That said, other than solar charging, these bells and whistles are rarely used tools when it comes to multi-sport watches, in my opinion Most people will enjoy the simplicity of the Apex Pro's design, as well as the quality built into the present features. Plus, omitting these add-ons certainly helps keep the price lower, in part making this one of the best value GPS watches on the market.
How Does the Apex Pro Compare to its Competitors?
If you look at the leaderboard, the closest alternatives to the Coros Apex Pro would be Garmin's Fenix 7 and Suunto's 9 Peak. While the Coros model is definitely more stripped down in terms of features, you can compare the three wrist accessories by their tangibles, including weight, battery life and price point.
With the lighter nylon wrist band, the Apex Pro weighs in at 49 grams, 13 grams less than the Suunto 9 Peak and 30 less than the Garmin Fenix 7. Its form factor is similarly smaller than both, too.
Controlling for the GPS usage on each watch (which drains battery quickly), the Apex Pro lasts 15 hours longer than the Suunto 9 Peak. Only the Fenix 7 lasts longer, according to each manufacturer.
Finally, in terms of cost, both the Garmin Fenix 7 and Suunto 9 Peak retail for $699. The Coros Apex Pro is considerably less, at $399, albeit at with a much less robust ecosystem of apps, features and tech.
The Coros Apex Pro: The Verdict
With a simple, slim design, a solid suite of features and a great value, it’s easy for me to recommend the Apex Pro to almost anyone. For the price, I was impressed with the features and accuracy, both in the watch as well as the Coros app. The battery life is impressive, and the watch itself feels durable without sacrificing a clean aesthetic.