The COROS APEX and APEX Pro are two very capable watches for dedicated athletes. If you’re considering these two watches, you’re likely wondering whether the APEX Pro is worth the extra money. In this post, I’ll be breaking down the similarities and differences of these watches, and how to decide on one over the other.
As some context, I’m a GPS watch nerd who’s tried 11 of the most popular models over the last couple years. I’m mainly a road runner (marathons and half marathons), but I’ve also dabbled in triathlons and trail running. I like to wear my watch all the time to track workouts and view my everyday fitness data. So, I’ll be looking at the APEX and APEX Pro from not only a running perspective, but also a multisport and everyday fitness wearable perspective.
For full disclosure, I don’t own either watch, but got to test loaners for a few weeks. I personally own only the Garmin Vivoactive 3 Music, and will keep it until it dies, or until I actually need more features (better for my wallet and the planet). When that does happen, I will likely be upgrading to the APEX.
This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links, meaning that I earn a small commission on any purchases through those links, at no extra cost to you. Your support allows me to keep writing reviews like this one 🙂
Things in Common: APEX vs. APEX Pro
Both watches are targeted towards more dedicated runners and athletes, and their pricing reflects that ($300-350 for the APEX and $500 for the APEX Pro). The watches are packed with features to help you track, understand, and plan your training.
Here’s a list of the activities that both watches track (the APEX Pro has even more tracking profiles).
|Track Run||XC Ski|
|Mountain Climb||Ski Touring|
|Pool Swim||Indoor Rowing*|
|Triathlon||*Added Nov 2020|
The open water tracking is as accurate as it gets. Open water swimming will never be fully accurate because the watch loses GPS signal each time your arm is under the water, and algorithms have to smooth out the curves (they usually overcorrect). Anything within 10% of the actual distance is considered accurate, and the APEX was 8% off when I tested it. I didn’t test open water on the APEX Pro, but it should perform similarly.
The pool swimming is also more accurate than the Garmins I’ve tested. Each time I swim with a Garmin, it tracks distances that are 10-20% greater than reality. COROS is usually on the dot, and they recognize your stroke type as well. I haven’t tested the pool swimming on the APEX specifically, but I have on the PACE 2 and APEX Pro (If you’re also interested in the PACE 2, see my in-depth comparison of the PACE 2 and APEX).
Both the APEX and APEX Pro find GPS signal extremely quickly. I got signal within 10 seconds very consistently.
Other common features are:
- Insane battery life: 24-30 days of regular use 25-40 hours in full GPS mode, and 80-100 hours in UltraMax GPS mode. The APEX Pro has slightly longer battery life
- Everyday fitness data: steps, floors climbed, heart rate, VO2 max, and sleep (no stress tracking though).
- Basic smartwatch features: receive texts and notifications from your phone. Other features include the timer, stopwatch, alarm, metronome (for running cadence), and compass
- Navigation capabilities: follow pre-loaded GPX routes and get elevation stats in real time. Your watch will also alert you if you deviate from the course.
- Interval workouts: I didn’t actually use this feature because COROS shows the time paused during your workout, so I didn’t need to create intervals to track my rest time. If you need it, there is also autopause on both watches.
- Barometric altimeter: helps track more accurate elevation. You can also see real-time barometric data to help predict short-term chances in weather.
- Advanced training metrics: stamina remaining, running power, and training effect (anaerobic and aerobic). Stamina remaining lets you know how much energy you have left after a workout, and how long you should wait before a hard workout. Running power tells you how efficient your running is. Training effect shows how effective your workout was.
- Two-year warranty: twice as long as most competitor warranties.
COROS offers an amazing lineup of watches, but there are some areas of improvement:
- The knob/dial navigation: I don’t have a problem with the dial, but it takes some getting used to. Luckily, you can customize the settings in many different ways. You turn the autolock on/off, use long hold or scroll to unlock, change the direction of the scroll, and the orientation of the watch face.
- No shoe mileage or menstrual cycle tacking: Unlike Garmin, you don’t have these features in the COROS app. You’ll need third-party apps for that, like Strava, which can track shoe mileage, and Kindara, which tracks your period.
- No Livetrack or Incident Detection: you can use apps for this as well, as Garmin’s features require you to be connected to a phone anyways.
- No way to adjust screen brightness: I didn’t have any issues with visibility, but this is just something to note.
- No music capabilities: you’ll need your phone for any music.
Finally, some people have had heart rate accuracy concerns with the APEX in particular (not so much the APEX Pro).There are several factors that can affect HR readings, which COROS outlines in their post on improving HR accuracy. Some factors include poor circulation/cold weather and rapid changes in HR due to interval training (you should select interval training mode if you want better HR tracking sensitivity). I didn’t have any noticeable issues with the HR, but I bring this up to keep my review as thorough as possible. Keep in mind that most optical HR sensors aren’t entirely accurate, so you’ll want a chest strap if you need especially accurate data.
Now that we got these common features and drawbacks out of the way, let’s get into the reasons to pick one over the other!
Reasons to Pick the COROS APEX
Let me be clear: I love the APEX and think it’s one of the best-value watches out there for the price. That’s why I’m planning to get this watch when my current one dies. But to be completely honest, it doesn’t have as many features as the APEX Pro. It may look like I prefer the APEX Pro when the truth is just that the Pro is a premium version of the APEX (with a premium price as well).
The main reasons to go for the regular APEX are cost and size. The APEX comes in two versions, the 46mm and the 42mm. I tried the 42mm since I have small wrists, and it felt like a solid size for me. The APEX Pro was quite bulky and heavy in comparison (I didn’t get a change to try the 46mm APEX, but it’s slightly smaller than the APEX Pro).
The differences between the 46mm and 42mm are obviously physical size and weight, but also battery life and cost. The 42mm costs $300 while the 46mm is $350 (I’ll talk about battery life a little bit later).
On the flip side, the APEX Pro is a whopping $500. Is it worth the extra $100-150? It depends on the features you need.
Reasons to Pick the COROS APEX Pro
Here are the extra features you’ll get with the APEX Pro.
The APEX Pro has 14% battery life than the 46mm APEX is full GPS mode. The battery life is the same for the other modes. The APEX Pro has significantly better battery life than the 42mm APEX though.
|APEX 42mm||APEX 46mm||APEX Pro|
|Regular use||24 days||30 days||30 days|
|GPS mode||25 hours||35 hours||40 hours|
|UltraMax GPS mode||80 hours||100 hours||100 hours|
As a result, the APEX Pro is also larger than both versions of the APEX and feels more rugged. The APEX Pro weighs 59g with a silicone strap, while the 46mm APEX is 55g and the 42mm APEX is 49g. The screen size is very similar though—it’s the physical size and weight that are most different.
The APEX Pro is better-suited for intense trail runners or mountain climbers, as it has easier map navigation and altitude mode. The APEX Pro has a touchscreen only while navigating, checking barometric data, and scrolling between workout screens. For navigation, the touchscreen allows you to zoom in on the screen more easily and see your route more clearly. The altitude mode will provide data on your acclimatization and let you know if you should keep going to a higher altitude or head back. This data goes hand in hand with the SpO2 readings (blood oxygen saturation), which is also not available on the regular APEX.
You’ll also find more tracking profiles, including windsurfing, speedsurfing, and whitewater.
It’s more convenient to read the screen of the APEX Pro as well. There’s an always-on backlight mode and a night mode that provides a dimmer always-on backlight. Unlike the APEX, the APEX Pro also has a specific button to manually turn the backlight on and off briefly.
Update November 2021: COROS released a walk mode, GoPro control, and topo + landscape maps for the APEX Pro, but these updates weren’t available for the APEX because it’s reached its storage capacity. Having more detailed maps vs. just the breadcumb trail could be a big draw of the APEX Pro, especially if you’re doing a lot of hiking or trail running in remote areas.
The Bottom Line
The APEX Pro is a premium version of the APEX, and is better-suited for athletes looking for a more rugged watch with more ultrarunning and water sports features. If you don’t need those extra features, then the regular APEX offers great value and is a solid choice.
Where to Buy the COROS APEX and APEX Pro
If this review helped you, it would mean a ton if you purchased through my affiliate links (or used my affiliate code). I also want to encourage you to buy secondhand if you can. I don’t get paid if you do that, so if you still want to show your appreciation financially, you’re welcome to buy me a ko-fi.
You can also save money through the COROS trade-in program. You can trade in a GPS watch of any brand for up to $100 off the purchase of a new COROS watch. I’m not sure how much money people generally get, but it’s a good option if you have a watch that’s unsellable. According to COROS, if you trade in a COROS watch, it’s repurposed as a demo unit or sales sample. If you trade in another brand, the watches are recycled to the fullest extent possible. Keep in mind that using your watch for as long as possible will always be the most eco-friendly, though!
Here’s where you can buy these watches:
Directly from COROS:
Psst, here’s a free watch band code! For any watch on the COROS site (or any other watch), use my code CAP-Fang. You’ll be able to get a free, extra watch band or any other accessory (minus gift cards and the explorer pack). Just add both the accessory and the watch to your cart before applying the code at checkout.
Let me know if you have any questions, and happy training!
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