Coros Apex 2

My new favorite workout watch, and silent alarm watch.

I ran into a little issue with my workout watch, the Casio GBD200, causing the watch to restart/crash randomly and lose all my settings. A hard wipe/restore seemed to fix it, but my trust was broken, and frustration was high, so I set out to find something new.

My criteria remained simple: good tracking and long battery life. And there are very few options on that market that don’t require a near-daily recharge, except for the offerings from Coros. I’ve long been interested in their products, so I picked up the Apex 2, and I’ve been wearing and using it ever since.

It is very simple, straightforward to use, and works very well. It’s an excellent product for those who want a good watch to track workouts and put on a proper watch afterward.

Specs and Such

I am unsure of the best way to go about the features on this, so I will list the things I think matter with some commentary from me.

  • Size: 43mm diameter and 12.8mm height. The lugs are short and turned down, fitting smaller wrists well.
  • There’s a 1.2-inch screen on this model, with a Sapphire crystal protecting it. It’s the type that is highly readable in direct sunlight and has a backlight.
  • The case is a titanium alloy and is super light.
  • 20mm lugs, nothing crazy here; you can put any strap. I’m not too fond of the fabric it came with, but the silicon offerings are ok.
  • It has GPS, Bluetooth, and WiFi.
  • 5 ATM water resistance, which Coros says is suitable for surface swimming.
  • -4°F to 122°F operating temp range, which is unimportant for me but seemed neat to mention.
  • When running GPS, you get about 45 hours of battery life (depending on settings); without GPS, you get about 17 days. I work out with this for about 50 minutes six times a week and wear it each night to sleep so that it can track my sleep and wake me up. I charge it about every ten days.
  • Recharge time is under 2hrs, it’s quite fast.
  • The health measurement includes Optical Heart Rate, Pulse Ox, and Electrocardiograph Sensor. Thermometer, Compass, Gyro, barometer, and accelerometer are also there.

In other words, there’s a lot here. You might wonder what the Apex Pro 2 model offers; it’s everything above in a larger case with a much longer battery life. I would get the pro if I wanted this watch for outdoor things, like hiking. The standard model has more than enough battery life for my morning workouts.

Wearing and Functionality

The interface on this watch took me a while to get used to. For some features, you dive into the main menu; other features are only accessible via a quick actions menu. Some you can see in the app; others you cannot. It’s not a good interface at all if I am honest.

But, after a week, it’s relatively intuitive to use, and you find that you only use the quick actions stuff and ignore the rest — or at least I found that. It’s also a fast interface; there’s never any loading or waiting. Each click is responsive, and you are off and on your way. Before working out, I only wait for resting heart rate measurements or GPS linkups.

That’s the extent of my interface comments. There’s a wide selection of watch faces, and all of them look like they were designed by someone who knew how to use a design tool — not by an actual designer. That’s harsh to whoever designed the interface, but these faces look awful. There’s no ability to get something simple and valuable, so everything is a tradeoff. For that reason alone, this watch must only stick to workout stuff.

I mention the straps above. I grabbed the watch with the fabric velcro style strap. It’s pretty comfortable to wear, especially when sweating. But my hands are not that large, and I had trouble slipping the loop over my hands; it was very frustrating, so I ditched it. The black silicone strap I picked up was comfortable but set off trypophobia in my house, so it was out. Oddly, there’s one aqua-colored silicon strap from Coros, which looks much different and is quite excellent. My kids think it looks great, but it’s pretty bright.

And one more thing. I like to wear watches like this without them ever making an audible sound. I can almost completely do this, but there’s an “achievement thing” that sounds when you hit 200kcals burned, and I cannot figure out how to turn off this sound for the life of me. Please, if you know, tell me.

Ok, that’s starting this off with complaints, I know. Why? Because those are my only complaints about this watch. Functionally, this watch is fantastic. A large part of me feels like this watch is designed and made by athletes/outdoors people and the like — not by designers being funded by billionaires. That’s a compliment, by the way, because for everything this watch lacks in the visual design department or easy user experience, it makes up for using the product as a tool for measuring and recording your activities.

Let’s rapid-fire some of the good:

  • The pairing with my phone is excellent. It never has an issue connecting to the app and syncs quickly. If you are patient, it does it in the background. Only the Apple Watch seems to do this better.
  • The buttons and the crown all feel great and lock out well. There’s never been a time I accidentally triggered something on the watch. And the feedback on each button is perfect.
  • The app offers excellent data visualization and a lot of charming data points in a quick-to-digest manner. It’s still passive data, but it’s easy to see what you want and get back out of the app.
  • The watch is very lightweight and never bothers me on the wrist, so the overall large size is fully offset.
  • The build quality is excellent, and the watch has taken some hard knocks to it without a mark being left on it.
  • The battery life is excellent, and I have yet to run into a situation where it was too low to work out and busy charging when I needed it. I have stretched it out to 14 days before.
  • It’s hard to know this for sure, but the measurements seem very accurate and in line with everything I have used to measure my workouts. That’s always reassuring on some level.

As I mentioned above, I use this daily. I work out six days a week and use it to track each of those workouts. I wear it every night when I go to bed, and it is also my alarm in the morning (vibration alarm). You can set up multiple alarms with different repeat schedules, so I have a weekday and weekend alarm. They are straightforward to toggle on and off, but you must do it on the watch, which is faster than using an app and syncing the settings back to the watch.

The sleep tracking also seems excellent and offers a very accurate look at total sleep time and all the wakeups you had throughout the night. I’ve used that several times to sort out things that might be waking me up.

I’ve also found that the workout screen is straightforward to read when working out in the wee hours of the morning, and the pace calculations seem very quick to adjust. I don’t need PRs or anything when I ruck, but I like to monitor my average pace, and it’s been easier to do that with this watch than any other I have had before.

All in all, this is an excellent addition for me.

Overall

If I wanted a daily wear smartwatch, this would not be it. It doesn’t have the looks or features I want. But what I want is something to measure my workouts, something to wake me in the morning, and something that I don’t need to charge every couple of days. It hits that perfectly.

The fact that the data collection is vastly better than I expected is a nice win. It does this for $349, an outright bargain in the world of inflating tech gear prices.

I am a huge fan.

Coros sells them here, but I snagged from Amazon.

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