- Lightweight, sleek design is perfect for running, cycling, and swimming
- Extended battery life and baseline activity/sleep tracking features
- Intuitive software that’s easy to use
- Built-in wrist HRM and ability to pair with ANT+ accessories
- Plethora of sport features and advanced stats, including running cadence, stride length, and SWOLF score
- No web platform
- No structure training plans
- Limited smartwatch features (i.e. no music control or 3rd party apps)
- Does not support activities beyond run/cycle/swim (i.e. no cardio, stair stepper, etc.)
- Still somewhat pricey with an MSRP of $300/$350
The COROS APEX is a solid sport watch that’s surprisingly feature-packed and has tremendous battery life. We wish that it was slightly more affordable, but it’s not a bad value. Overall, we were impressed.
You might not know about COROS, and that’s ok. It’s a somewhat new company, however, they’ve burst onto the scene with a whole swath of interesting sporting good products. In prior videos we discussed their new lineup of smart helmets, but in this post we want to do an overview of their most capable sport watch (yet).
Of course, I am talking about the APEX, which is sort of COROS’ version of the Forerunner 935. This is a GPS multi-sport watch that’s designed for runners, swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes. In this post we will cover the major things that you should know about this watch, including the what COROS did well and can improve on.
COROS APEX: Design
The APEX is available in two different sizes, 42mm and 46mm, with the 46mm having a larger battery capacity. The 42mm has a 1.1″ display and the 46mm has a 1.2″ display, which translates into “plenty of screen real estate for the average person.”
The watches also have removable bands (22mm / 20mm), are water resistant down to 10 ATM (~100 meters), and have both GPS and GLONASS—as well as apparently the Chinese’s equivalent known as BDS. Further, they have a barometric altimeter and compass and are compatible with ANT+ accessories such as chest strap HRMs. If you look at the underside of the watch, it also has a built-in wrist HRM, which we will discuss in the sections below.
All-in-all, the APEX was comfortable and about the perfect shape and size for running, cycling, etc. It wasn’t bulky or heavy, and is something we could definitely used for extended periods of time. The design reminds us a heck of a lot of the Garmin vivoactive 3 or Foreunner 645.
Battery Life Of The COROS APEX
We were floored with the battery performance of the APEX. We were able to go 10 days on a single charge with normal usage (i.e. one modest workout per day). If you were to look at the spec sheet, however, the battery life is supposedly best-in-class. The 42mm and 46mm have quoted battery life in Full GPS Mode of 25 and 35 hours, respectively. That’s plenty for an Ironman.
If you use UltraMax Mode (COROS’ version of UltraTrac from Garmin), the battery life is apparently 80 hours and 100 hours, respectively. One thing to keep in mind with UltraMax Mode is that it uses part GPS and part gyroscope to collect data and map your route. It will therefore lack the precise detail that Full GPS Mode will. That said, it will significantly extend battery life, though, you should only use it for long, slow adventures, not short, quick workouts, otherwise the mapping data will be way off.
Sport Features On The COROS APEX
We were surprised (in a good way) with just how many sport features the APEX has. For instance, we didn’t expect it to have advanced training metrics such as Training Load or Training Effect. Here’s a breakdown of what you get with the APEX:
Running — Distance, pace, speed, HR, HR zone, cadence, and stride length all show in real-time on the watch. And, yes, you can adjust the data screens to show more or less information. You also have a metronome, auto-scroll, auto-lap, auto-pause, various alerts, and domain over whether you use GPS or GPS & GLONASS.
Cycling — Distance, speed, HR, HR zone, and so on.
Swimming — Distance, pace, stroke count, SWOLF score, and others. The interesting thing with swimming is that it can manage pool swimming and open water swimming, which you don’t see on that many watches—usually high end ones.
A few things that we noticed are missing on the APEX are (1) structured/calendarized workout programs, (2) additional sport profile such as cardio and strength training, and (3) a web portal. While we like the mobile app, it would also be nice to view workout data online.
Built-In Heart Rate Monitor
While we don’t know the actual manufacturer of the optical sensor in the APEX, we can tell you that it’s pretty much in line—from an accuracy standpoint—with what we’ve seen from most wrist HRMs.
We noticed that it was largely fairly accurate, however, as expected, it doesn’t react as quickly to swings in HR data as a chest strap HRM. Here is an indoor test run against the Wahoo Fitness TICKR X.
As you can see, it looks like nearly a 1-for-1 match with the chest strap HR sensor. And, if you look at the max and average data, it looks like the APEX was perfect. Well, it was mostly perfect, but not quite exact. To be fair, however, not only did we expect this, but also we’ve seen similar results with nearly all wrist heart rate monitors.
Keep in mind also that wrist-based HR readings can differ based on several variables, including temperature, wrist placement, skin color, tattoos, exercise, and whether you gave the HR sensor enough time to “warm up,” which is a real thing with optical heart rate sensors.
Activity And Sleep Tracking
The APEX also has you standard activity and sleep tracking features. It will measure your daily steps, active calories, exercise time, and sleep. From what we could tell, the data was all pretty close to accurate. For example, active calories was within 75 kcal of what my Garmin fenix 5 Plus said and the step count was within 200 steps from Garmin.
We also noticed that the sleep data was eerily similar to the readings from Garmin Connect. Light sleep, deep sleep, and total sleep were all very close to what my Garmin watch collected.
COROS APEX: Other Features
The watch will relay your incoming smartphone notifications just like any other smartwatch. It works well and we have zero complaints with the system—they even have a Do Not Disturb mode. You can see what those incoming notifications look like in the image below.
One thing on our wish list is music control. It would have been nice to be able to control the music that was playing on a smartphone. Native storage would have been great, but we can’t consider either of those dealbreakers.
My Experience With The COROS APEX
The easiest way to describe my experience with the APEX was “surprise,” as I didn’t expect the watch to be so feature-packed. At $300 and $350 for the 42mm and 46mm, respectively, I am not thrilled with the price tag, but I have enjoyed playing around with the watch.
I can’t speak to the accuracy of some of the more advanced stats, but the APEX seemed to check a lot of boxes as far as the basics are concerned. GPS accuracy was definitely there. Altimeter, good there too. HR accuracy was certainly passable. I could go on, but you get the point. It’s actually a fairly solid watch that I think a lot of people will like.