The Forerunner 955 and APEX 2 Pro are two highly-capable GPS models for serious athletes. Since you’re shelling out a significant chunk of money for either model, it’s important to make the best choice for you and your training.
In this post, I’ll go over the similarities and differences between the two watches, and offer some reasons to choose one over the other.
As 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 was loaned the Forerunner 955 Solar and APEX 2 Pro for a few months to test for this review, and I ran with both of them on the same runs during this time. I’ve also personally owned both a Garmin and a COROS and am very familiar with both ecosystems.
This post isn’t sponsored, but it does contain 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: Garmin Forerunner 955 and COROS APEX 2 Pro
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.
|Cardio (GPS and gym)
|Open Water Swimming
Everyday fitness stats: Steps, floors climbed, heart rate, Pulse Ox/SpO2, and sleep.
- VO2 max
- Recovery Time
- Race Predictor
- Training Status (how productive your training is)
- Training Load (whether your training is a smart amount)
- Training Effect (how your workouts impact your endurance, speed, and power)
- HRV status (heart rate variability helps you understand your health and recovery)
More precise tracking: Both watches have All Systems mode that lets your watch use any of the satellite systems (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, BeiDou, QZSS) and switch between them based on the quality of their signals. This is the default setting for the watches. Multi-Band or Dual Frequency mode is also available, and it’s the even more accurate option that allows your watch to get L1 and L5 frequency signals.
Workout features: Interval workouts, mapping (full landscape and topographic), and navigation.
Smartwatch features: Calendar, message, and call notifications. Find my phone/watch.
They do have pretty substantial differences though, so let’s get into those now!
Reasons to Pick the Garmin Forerunner 955
The FR955 is an extremely capable watch. It does basically what the super expensive Fenix series does, except in a plastic case.
The Forerunner 955 the first watch in the Forerunner series to have a touchscreen. While the APEX 2 Pro has a touchscreen as well, it’s only enabled when navigating maps and scrolling through data screens during workouts. The FR955 touchscreen is always enabled, and it’s pretty convenient. I liked being able to scroll through the data screens on the run summaries, and swiping through my performance and daily fitness data.
If you don’t like touchscreens, you can always disable it, and you would never be able to tell that the watch has a touchscreen since the glass is very discreet (the same goes for the touchscreen on the APEX 2 Pro).
One other structural perk of the Forerunner 955 is that it also comes in a solar version. The standard Forerunner 955 costs $500 while the solar version is $600. The solar version extends the battery life slightly in the right conditions, but it still doesn’t last as long as the APEX 2 Pro (which I’ll get into later).
While both the Forerunner 955 and APEX 2 Pro have All Systems and Dual Frequency/Multi-Band mode for more accurate tracking, I found that the FR955 generally had cleaner tracking when comparing the mapping of my runs. The GPS track consistently stayed on the path I ran and it did so pretty impressively. Between the Forerunner 955 and 255, I haven’t seen more accurate tracking in all the watches I’ve tested (and this was true even in All Systems mode, which isn’t the most accurate setting possible).
The APEX 2 Pro was still very accurate, but it wasn’t quite as good, and it sometimes struggled to overlay the GPS track correctly when I did out-and-back runs (there would be an offset in the mapping). You can compare the Garmin and COROS maps of the same run below.
One other interesting thing I noticed was that the Forerunner 955’s GPS acquisition time was also lightning-fast. This is typically something that COROS beats Garmin in significantly, but the FR955 latched onto signal within a few seconds, and in some settings, it actually got signal faster than the APEX 2 Pro.
While the COROS APEX 2 Pro can play MP3 files via Bluetooth headphones, the Forerunner 955 also lets you connect to Spotify Premium, Amazon Music, Deezer, or iHeartRadio to download your playlists.
Over Bluetooth headphones, you’re able to get Audio Prompts for workout stats on the FR955 (like pace and lap number). If you don’t want to wear headphones, you can also get Audio Prompts from the Garmin Connect app on your phone.
You can also track a wider variety of more specialized activities on the FR955, including:
|Indoor track running, Ultra Running
|Mountain Biking, eBiking, eMountain Biking, Road Biking, Gravel Biking, Bike Commuting, Bike Touring, Cyclocross
|HIIT, Stair Stepping, Floor Climbing, Elliptical, Pilates, Yoga, Boxing, MMA
|Backcountry Snowboarding, XC Skate Skiing, Snowshoeing, Ice Skating
|Tennis, Padel, Table Tennis, Platform Tennis, Pickleball, Squash, Raquetball, Badminton
|Basketball, Volleyball, Field Hockey, Ice Hockey, Football/Soccer, American Football, Lacrosse, Rugby, Ultimate Disc, Cricket, Softball, Baseball
|Kayaking, Climbing/Bouldering, Archery, Overland, BMX, Snowmobile, ATV, Motorcycle, Motorcross
On the COROS APEX 2 Pro, you’ll need to use the more general Cardio with or without GPS mode. If you want specialized activity-specific metrics and data summaries over time though, you may want to opt for the FR955. You can also use the closest proxy for that activity. For example, for Mountain Biking, you could just use “Biking” and still see your real-time elevation gain, and for Ultra Running, you can just use “Trail Running” (Garmin’s Ultra Running mode just has a time paused screen, which is the default for all activities on COROS).
While both the FR955 and APEX 2 Pro have maps and navigation, the maps on the FR955 have more detail, including street names and points of interest. The FR955 also comes preloaded with both landscape and topographic maps while the APEX 2 Pro only comes preloaded with landscape maps. It’s easy to download maps, but it usually takes a couple hours since the file sizes are large, and I actually needed to contact support to match the right files to the right folders.
If you’re going for PRs, you’ll like the Forerunner 955’s PacePro. This feature creates a pacing plan for your races and runs, based on elevation and your goal time. You can adjust the plan based on the kinds of splits you want (positive, even, negative) and your hill strategy (take them easy or hard).
Garmin Pay on the Forerunner 955 can be really handy if you need to make purchases and you don’t have your card on you (like those long runs where you run out of water and need to stop in a gas station to get a drink). This feature allows you make contactless payments with your watch. Most major banks are compatible.
For those who often run alone and are concerned about safety, the Forerunner 955 has Incident Detection and LiveTrack. You must be connected to your phone for them to work. Incident Detection will alert your emergency contacts if it detects an accident during your activity (like a fall). LiveTrack allows your loved ones to follow your location in real time.
Finally, there are a handful other lifestyle and training features unique to the Forerunner 955 and Garmin ecosystem, such as shoe mileage, stress tracking, menstrual tracking, and Body Battery. I encourage you to read my full Garmin vs. COROS review for all the details on the nuances between the two ecosystems.
Reasons to Pick the COROS APEX 2 Pro
The COROS APEX 2 Pro is one of the most premium watches in the COROS lineup, with only the VERTIX 2 offering more features and having a higher price point. The APEX 2 Pro retails at $450, which is $50 cheaper than the $500 FR955.
One of the biggest perks of the COROS APEX 2 Pro is its amazing battery life. Here’s a quick table comparing the battery life in different modes:
|APEX 2 Pro
|All Systems Mode
|All Systems with Music
When I wore the APEX 2 Pro and FR955 Solar on the same runs, the FR955 Solar only lasted me 12 days and 6-7 hours of GPS tracking in All Systems mode before the battery would would dip under 30%. The APEX 2 Pro, however, lasted me 22 days and almost 12 hours of tracking in All Systems mode, plus .75 hours of tracking in Dual Frequency mode before it dipped under 30%. I have no doubt it would’ve lasted the full 30 days if I let my watch go under 10% before charging.
Keep in mind that I tested the FR955 Solar in the winter in the Midwest, so it was hard to meet the proper solar conditions, but they would be no problem in the warmer months. I’m guessing it would’ve lasted a couple days longer in the summertime. Still, the APEX 2 Pro lasts 50% longer than the FR955 Solar in smartwatch mode and twice as long as the regular FR955. And in GPS mode, you get an additional 26-33 hours of use on the APEX 2 Pro. So, if you’re doing ultra-endurance events or multi-day hikes, you may prefer the APEX 2 Pro.
The APEX 2 Pro also has a more rugged build than the FR955. The bezel is of the APEX 2 Pro made of Grade 5 Titanium Alloy with PVD Coating while the FR955 is made of fiber-reinforced polymer (plastic).
In terms of activity modes that are unique to the APEX 2 Pro, you’ll find Whitewater, Speedsurfing, Windsurfing, Mountain climbing, and Multi-pitch climbing. While the APEX 2 Pro and FR955 both track indoor rock climbing and bouldering, the APEX 2 Pro also tracks outdoor rock climbing.
Multi-pitch climbing has 3 phases: Approach, Climb, and Descend. You can track multiple climbing types: rock, ice, mixed, or alpine climb. The mode also supports multiple climbing grade systems: Rock YDS, Rock French, Rock Aid, Ice, and Mixed.
A physical difference is that the APEX 2 Pro comes with a nylon band by default instead of a silicone one. The nylon band is lighter and more breathable. As someone with small wrists, I found the APEX 2 Pro more comfortable to wear; the FR955 Solar actually hurt my wrist after extended periods of wear. Both watches are about the same weight with the silicone band (52g for the FR955 and 53g for the APEX 2 Pro), but the APEX 2 Pro is only 42g with the nylon band. Of course, you can also buy a third-party nylon band for your FR955 though.
If you have even smaller wrists than mine, however, I wouldn’t recommend either watch. For reference, my wrists are around 5.5 inches (14cm) in circumference. The watches already feel pretty heavy for me, and on the APEX 2 Pro, the default nylon band would actually be too long for anyone with smaller wrists, as the extra band length hits just under the watch face for me. Sizing-wise, I prefer the FR255 or APEX 2 instead.
One other small detail about the bands is that the COROS APEX 2 has a quick release band, making it easier to switch bands. With the Forerunner 955, you need a special tool to unscrew the bands, though they usually come with any replacement band kits.
Finally, the warranty on COROS watches (2 years) is twice as long as Garmin warranty. Garmin also only replaces your watch with a refurbished one if you’re more than 3 months into warranty, while COROS will replace with a new unit at any point within warranty.
COROS also continues to bring new features to its models. While Garmin does provide updates as well, COROS historically has had larger updates, such as new tracking modes, GoPro control, and even adding navigation to watches that didn’t have it before. The APEX 2 Pro is newer, so there are no major updates yet, but you can see the COROS release notes for previous updates.
The Bottom Line
The Forerunner 955 and APEX 2 Pro retail at a similar price ($450 vs. $500) unless you get the FR955 Solar ($600). The Forerunner 955 clearly offers more value for this price point, as it has a touchscreen that’s always enabled, spot on GPS accuracy, music streaming, more detailed maps, and safety tracking features.
That said, the APEX 2 Pro has a more rugged build and battery life that’s up to twice as long in smartwatch mode. It also has warranty that lasts twice as long. The APEX 2 Pro may still be a better fit for athletes who do ultra-endurance activities and don’t need the extra features.
Where to Buy the Garmin Forerunner 955 and COROS APEX 2 Pro
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 Garmin/COROS
APEX 2 Pro (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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