COROS APEX 46mm review by Jeff Campbell
Posted on June 18 2020
(COROS launched GPS watches since 2018, APEX 46mm is a model which is developed for Trailrunner and Ultrarunner. We are happy to have the gear review of Jeff Campbell. Jeff ran 2:29 in 2019 Berlin Marathon and also he is Hong Kong’s 2017 Male Trail Runner of the Year and 2018 Oxfam TrailWalker overall champion.)
For me, my GPS watch is my essential piece of running gear. Shoes, packs, shorts; all of those get rotated and then retired. But my watch is a constant companion on every run. But a running watch is also a thankless companion. It features mind-boggling technology (communicates with multiple satellites in outer space to calculate your exact location) while fitting comfortably on your wrist. And yet we get frustrated the instant it stops working perfectly, as anyone who has stood on the sidewalk doing the “waiting for a signal” dance can attest.
I’ve used both Suunto and Garmin watches in the past, but the APEX 46mm was my first try of a COROS model. After a few weeks of testing, here are my thoughts:
The Good Stuff
- GPS accuracy has been better than any watch I’ve used before. After 30+ runs, there haven’t been any weird GPS jumps, even when running in between HK’s skyscrapers. It gets even better when doing workouts in “Track Mode”, where you can literally choose which lane you are running in so that the watch can measure your lap distances to the metre. Check out the workout screenshot to this post to see how crisp the GPS lines up with the track. GPS is the bread and butter of any running watch, and COROS has nailed it in that area.
GPS signal acquisition is also very fast. This can be another problem in a city like HK, but I haven’t had to wait longer than 10-15s to get a lock.
Battery life is great. I run about 100km per week in addition to wearing the APEX as my day-to-day watch. I can easily get through a whole week without charging the watch, and that’s without using the UltraMax battery mode. (Note: COROS claims you can get 35hrs running time in regular mode and 100hrs in UltraMax mode. Frankly, I think only crazy people run for 35hrs straight - let alone 100 - but that’s another topic.)
Super light and comfy.
Optical wrist HR has been very accurate. No weird outliers on the high or low ends during workouts or easy runs.
Interface/app is seamless. Workouts sync quickly with the app. GPX files for navigation can be loaded straight from your phone to the watch. It may be somewhat no-frills compared to the Garmin ecosystem, but everything is right where it should be and it all works very well out of the box.
The Bad Stuff:
The button layout took some getting used to. There are only two buttons: a crown button used for scrolling that can also be pressed, and a lap button beneath. It actually works well once you get used to it; the scrolling crown is way better with sweaty fingers than a touchscreen.
- The screen also locks automatically, requiring a quick turn of the crown to unlock. That’s a good feature for regular wear, but I absolutely HATED IT when trying to record laps during my first track workout (good news: you can easily disable crown unlock when in activity mode 😜)
- It doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of some of the other flagship GPS watches. No onboard music, no contactless payments. Frankly, I don’t use my GPS watch for those things, but it might be a factor for some people.
I really, really, really like this watch. It just does all of the fundamentals I expect out of a running watch so well. If you need to have music, payments and other non-sport features on your GPS watch, then the APEX probably isn’t for you. But as a pure running watch, I think it’s the best one out there.