COROS Apex Pro Review
First and foremost, I was provided with this watch courtesy of COROS, however that does not sway my thoughts in the below review.
This watch stood out to me initially because the battery life is seemingly endless. This thing is the Energizer Bunny of GPS wearables with an impressive 40 hours of battery life! I am very interested in multi-day events and one-hundred mile races, so long battery life isn't just a plus, it's a necessity. Let's face it, it's also an inconvenience to continuously charge my watch over the week, and this gets me through 1.5 - 2 weeks of training easily.
While the battery life drew me in, the surplus of data and metrics on both the watch itself and the COROS mobile application provided a wealth of information and feedback to a coach and performance nerd like myself.
The watch performed well in every setting I put it into including crossfit style workouts, metabolic conditioning, cycling classes, mountain running, hiking and even the track mode. Running on the track with my previous stable of GPS watches was frustrating to say the least; either overpredicting or underpredicting pace depending on if the watch was on your outside or inside arm. The COROS Apex Pro eliminated that issue.
While the watch had a few negatives, like the fact that I found it fairly complicated to use initially, (I'll get into that in detail later), I found this to be a great product and value even at around the $500 MSRP.
So let's start with the pros:
PRO: Amazing battery life at 40 hours in standard GPS mode, and 100 hours in ultra max mode. Wow.
PRO: The sleep tracking and measuring seems to be consistent, reliable, and fall mostly in line with my sleep patterns. I didn't sleep for 8 hours, and wake up scratching my head wondering why it missed several hours worth of heart rate data. Everything is here, easy to read and interpret. The data made me realize I should do more to get a few more minutes of deep sleep each night for optimal recovery. This effectively saved me $30 per month, because I canceled my subscription to a popular fitness tracking app known for its sleep metrics.
PRO: Track mode is astonishingly accurate. I found it to be spot on, and you can even add which lane you'll be running in for best and most accurate data. This is key for me because I do a lot of my speed workouts on the track because it's flat, consistent, and free of interruptions.
PRO: A healthy amount of data and metrics to be able to satisfy even the most scientific thinkers without an information or sensory overload. Enough data is paramount, but I do believe as a coach and athlete that too much data can be detrimental. I get that most people won't need some of these features like high altitude mode, a barometer, or altimeter unless you plan on racing, training, or living at altitude or in rugged mountain areas, but you never know; I had an athlete who lives in Indiana drink a few too many beers, sign up for Leadville lottery and got into the race! True story and pretty epic if you ask me.
PRO: This thing looks great! It looks absolutely well made and expensive with titanium and sapphire glass. I like to wear my tracker with me at almost all times. This watch looks the part in nearly any setting. My old watch costs more, but looks plastic and cheap in comparison. I wore this to a wedding, I wouldn't have dreamed of doing so with my other tracker.
PRO: Set up was a breeze and syncing is reliable. That has not always been the case with other brands in my experience, which can be frustrating. The GPS acquires signal faster than any watch I've ever used.
PRO: Setting up the watch face and activity settings from the app and then syncing immediately from my phone made this a less time consuming process than other brands.
CON: My first few runs, I found the watch to be complicated. Things are new, I'm not always a fan of change, or reading the directions - so admittedly part of this is my fault. I think the bezel of the watch looks neat-o, but I don't like that I have to twist it one full clockwise loop to unlock it so I can lap or even pause the watch in the factory setting. This made me fidget with it a lot to get splits during a hard workout effort. Turns out there are some handy videos and instructions available to rectify that or adjust it to your needs. It also took me way too long to figure out how to change the 1 mile autolap, but I'll chalk that one up to user error.
CON: The basic interval setting doesn't allow you to customize the rest, recovery, or intervals. This means that you'll have to pre program most of your workouts using the application should you choose to not manually lap your splits.
CON: This one is not necessarily specific to this model or brand but I find the wrist based heart rate monitor to become more inaccurate at activity. During sleep my resting heart rate will drop into the mid 30s which is pretty typical and accurate for me, but there was the occasional spike in heart rate on routine easy runs with the heart rate reading exceeding my lab tested max heart rate by 15 or 20 beats. On an easy run!? Not a chance. Again, I find this to be a shortcoming of wrist based heart rate monitors in general. The Apex Pro pairs with a variety of chest strap heart rate monitors, and when I did that, there were no issues of random heart rate spikes during otherwise low effort runs.
This review effectively all comes down to one question. Will I continue to use this watch now that my 30 day testing period is over, or will I return to ol' faithful? The answer is (drum roll, please) YES. This watch surpassed my expectations. The wealth of data, reliable performance, fast GPS and mega battery life provide me with all of the tools I need to make my training a success. The sleep tracking is impeccable as I said before and actually made me change some of my sleep habits. Most, or all of the limitations I found with this piece of technology can easily be chalked up to user error. I got this watch for free, but I would have paid full price for it