The COROS PACE 2 has been found on the wrists of running legends such as Eluid Kipchoge, Molly Seidel, and Des Linden. The APEX 2 is a newer model and was a long-awaited refresh to the original APEX (which Des Linden has also worn).
If you’re deciding between these two watches, you picked some great options. In this post, I’ll be going over their similarities and differences, and sharing reasons to pick one over the other.
I’ve used a PACE 2 loaner for a few weeks in 2021 and 2023, and I received a sample APEX 2 to review in Fall 2022, so I have ample experience with both models.
For context, I’m a distance runner who mostly trains for half and full marathons, but I’ve also dabbled in triathlons and trail running. I’m a GPS watch nerd and have tested all the COROS watches and several others, and want to help you make a decision (check out the rest of my GPS watch comparisons).
This post contains affiliate links and discount codes, meaning that I earn a small commission on any purchases through those links/codes, at no extra cost to you. Your support allows me to keep writing reviews like this one 🙂
Things in Common: COROS PACE 2 and APEX 2
Before I dive into the reasons to pick one over the other, here are some similarities of the watches:
Fitness tracking for common activities: Both watches have a variety of outdoor and indoor tracking profiles. You can also create interval workouts.
|Indoor Run||Gym Cardio|
|Track Run||GPS Cardio|
|Pool Swim||Indoor Rowing|
Fitness stats: steps, heart rate, sleep, and VO2 max (aerobic performance capacity).
Advanced training metrics: training load (whether your training is a smart amount), training status (whether your training is effective), race predictor, recovery time, and wrist-based running power.
Basic smartwatch features: calendar, message, and call notifications.
Navigation: download and follow a course/GPX file; you also get a compass in the interface and deviation alerts.
Now let’s get into the differences between the PACE 2 and APEX 2!
Reasons to Choose the PACE 2
One of the biggest perks of the PACE 2 is its relatively affordable price point. At $199, the watch offers features only found on competitor models that cost $350+, from training performance metrics to open water swimming. You’d be hard-pressed to find better value.
Since the PACE 2 has been around for 2.5 years now, you’re also likely to find it for even cheaper secondhand.
The watch is one of the lightest ones on the market at 29-30g with the nylon band and 35-36g with the silicone band. I barely notice I’m wearing a watch when I have the PACE 2 on, even with the silicone band. I have small wrists, so watch weight and bulkiness is an important factor to me. For reference, my wrists are around 5.5 inches (14cm) in circumference.
In comparison, the APEX 2 is 42g with the nylon band and 53g with the silicone band. There’s definitely a noticeable difference, but the APEX 2 is still comfortable to wear for me. Size-wise, the watches are pretty similar, with the APEX 2 just being about 1mm thicker and having 1mm larger of a display.
Somewhat counterintuitively, the PACE 2 has longer battery life in smartwatch mode. It lasts 20 days vs. the APEX 2’s 17 days (this is due to the improved heart rate sensor and sleep tracking on the APEX 2, which burn more battery). The APEX 2 does last 50% longer in GPS mode though, at 45 hours vs. the PACE 2’s still-impressive 30 hours.
If you have any accessories that are paired via ANT+ (like pods, bike power meters, heart rate straps), you’ll also want to go with the PACE 2. The newer COROS watches only have Bluetooth connectivity and not ANT+.
Reasons to Choose the APEX 2
The APEX 2 is a more recent model, having been released in November 2022, while the PACE 2 was released in August 2020 and will likely be refreshed in the next year or so. It retails at $349, which is still good value for what it offers.
With the APEX 2, you get increased tracking accuracy since it has All Systems On. All Systems On lets watches use any of the satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS) and switch between them based on the quality of their signals. The PACE 2 is still accurate, but I have noticed cleaner tracking in the APEX 2 in All Systems On mode. The tracks of my runs look smoother and stay more on the actual path I ran.
You’ll also be able to track a wider variety of activities on the APEX 2, including: trail running, hiking, mountain climbing, indoor climbing, skiing, snowboarding, XC skiing, ski touring, whitewater, speedsurfing, and windsurfing.
If you go on hikes and trail runs regularly, you may appreciate the topographic and landscape maps. You’ll also be able to navigate downloaded GPX files and get deviation alerts. Keep in mind that the watch doesn’t come preloaded with maps, so you’ll have to download them from the COROS website. It can take a couple hours add them to your watch since the files are larger, but it’s relatively straightforward.
The PACE 2 does have navigation now after a May 2023 update, but it’s breadcrumb trail only. You won’t see any map, but only a path to follow, compass, and deviation alerts.
The APEX 2 also has a touchscreen that allows you to use the map more easily and scroll through data screens during workouts. Otherwise, there is no touch functionality. You can also disable the touchscreen completely if you prefer.
You’ll notice that the heart rate sensor of the APEX 2 is totally revamped, with a much larger surface area. As a result, the APEX 2 has better HR accuracy. I’ve never been one to look at heart rate data that closely, but the PACE 2 has seemed mostly good when I’ve used it, though it can be slow to pick up and there can be some weird temporary drop-offs. The APEX 2 has been more consistent when it comes to heart rate.
The new HR sensor also supports heart rate variability. HRV Index can let you know how well you’re recovering and is another tool to help you understand how you’re adapting to your training.
If you spend time at high altitudes, you may prefer the APEX 2 for its ability to track blood oxygen saturation (SpO2). There’s also an altitude mode that will take regular SpO2 readings once you’re above 2500m.
While the APEX 2 doesn’t connect to any music apps, you can download and play MP3 files through Bluetooth headphones. The PACE 2 doesn’t have music functionality.
Finally, the APEX 2 has more durable build. The PACE 2 has a plastic case, while APEX 2 is made from titanium alloy.
The Bottom Line
The PACE 2 is a simpler watch, but it still offers great value and is a solid choice for runners who mainly stick to roads and tracks. It’s also a super comfortable watch for those with smaller wrists. The PACE 2 is an older model at this point though, so you may want to wait for a new version, or purchase a used watch at a discount.
The APEX 2 is a better choice for athletes doing more rugged and remote activities, as it’s able to track trail running, hiking, and mountain climbing; it also comes with full mapping and navigation, and it can access all satellite systems at once in All Systems On mode.
A couple years ago, I was deciding between the PACE 2 and original APEX, and ultimately went with the APEX since I do the occasional trail run and hike, and wanted navigation and specific tracking modes. Now that the PACE 2 also has navigation after a May 2023 update, the choice is much harder, even if it only has breadcrumb navigation compared to the APEX 2’s full mapping.
Because I don’t spend a lot of time on trails, I would probably actually go for the PACE 2 over the APEX 2, especially since it’s so light and lasts slightly longer in smartwatch mode. The thing that would hold me back is how long the model has been out; I would try to wait for the PACE 3, if possible.
Where to Buy the COROS PACE 2 and APEX 2
If this review helped you, it would mean a ton if you purchased through my affiliate links or codes. I also want to encourage you to buy secondhand or from small, local running stores 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 virtual coffee.
Directly from COROS
Use code COROS-Lily 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. Please do not share this code on public forums.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. Also let us know what you decided on and why!
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