Many would argue that you don’t need a smartwatch to go for a run. However, if you’re training with a specific goal in mind, a sports watch offers several convenient and helpful features.
While you could simply use a basic stopwatch for timing intervals on an already mapped distance, wearable devices with built-in GPS provide additional training data, such as your total distance and average pace.
Many GPS watches also allow you to program workouts so you don’t have to worry about manually lapping splits between hard and recovery intervals.
For many runners, Garmin watches have long been the gold standard when it comes to accuracy and functionality.
This has definitely been true for me, as I’ve been wearing Garmin watches for the last decade — ever since I decided to splurge and upgrade my $10 Timex stopwatch that I bought at Target.
However, other brands have started to give Garmin a run for its money over the recent years.
COROS watches, in particular, have gained popularity for their extended battery life and sleek design.
So, when the brand offered to send me a loaner unit of its PACE 2 — a lightweight watch with triathlon mode — I figured I’d give it a shot.
This article provides a thorough review of the COROS PACE 2, including my honest opinion as to whether it’s worth buying.
Founded in 2016, COROS was first launched as a smart cycling helmet company. It later evolved to include running and multisport watches, which is what it’s best known for today.
COROS launched the original PACE in 2018 as an affordable alternative to its competitors, equipped with many of the same training metrics and an extra-long-lasting battery.
COROS has since released its popular multisport APEX and VERTIX watches, as well as the latest PACE model, the COROS PACE 2.
The PACE 2 is the least expensive model in the COROS lineup and marketed as the lightest smartwatch on the market.
In addition to its lightweight design, the watch stands out for its long battery life and affordable price.
Here’s a quick look at the COROS PACE 2’s cost, warranty, and refund policy:
- Price (MSRP): $199
- Shipping: free within the United States
- Included accessories: charging cable
- Financing options: special financing through PayPal Credit
- Refund policy: may be returned for a full refund within 30 days of purchase if returned in the original packaging; customers may be subject to a $10 restocking fee and responsible for shipping charges; if purchased from a retail location, you must return the watch to that same location and adhere to their return policy
- Warranty: covered for 2 years; COROS covers the shipping charges and sends a new replacement product in the same size and color
At 1.02 ounces (29 grams), the COROS PACE 2 is significantly lighter than many other sports watches. For comparison, the Apple Watch Series 5 and Garmin Fenix 6x Pro are 1.09 and 2.9 ounces (31 and 83 grams), respectively.
While this is a plus for some runners, I’ve never felt like my Garmin was especially bulky.
The watch’s extended battery life appears to be its biggest win, lasting up to 20 days — yes, days — with regular use and up to 30 hours with continuous GPS.
There’s also an UltraMax GPS mode that extends the battery life during outdoor workouts, which the company claims shouldn’t affect the accuracy of your data too much.
I only had to charge my device once every 10 days or so after 5–6 runs lasting 30–60 minutes each.
As a marathoner, I would never need a wearable to last more than 4 hours or so of continuous use, so this feature is more likely to appeal to ultramarathoners who race up to 100 miles in distance, or if you’ll be backpacking and can’t easily charge your device.
That said, if you often forget to plug it in, as I tend to do, it’s nice to be able to get away with charging your watch less frequently.
The COROS PACE 2 features a round face with a clear display and two buttons on the right side.
It also comes with either a nylon and velcro strap or a silicone band with a peg and loop closure.
I received a white watch with a nylon and velcro strap, which I had a mixed experience with.
On one hand, the band fit much more snugly than my Garmin’s silicone one, which may partially explain why the PACE 2’s heart rate readings appeared to be more accurate than my Garmin’s.
However, the band also got super wet and sweaty in the Houston humidity, and if I didn’t rinse it out with soap and hang it to dry, I might have been returning it to COROS with an unwelcome perma-stink.
The watch is typically available in white or dark navy, though the company also offers seasonal colors, such as green, gold, and red.
When I first opened the packaging, I immediately noticed was that it was missing a user manual.
As the watch was a loaner, I figured perhaps the person before me lost the manual, and the company simply forgot to replace it. However, several of my friends who have purchased new COROS watches claim not to have received manuals either.
Now, I’m pretty low maintenance when it comes to tracking my running data — all I really need is a GPS signal and to know how to track my pace and distance — so I figured I could easily head out on an easy 30-minute run and figure it out on the way.
Unfortunately, I was wrong and ended up having to put my run on hold so I could search online for how to track my workout.
However, once you’ve studied how to use it, the COROS PACE 2 is relatively easy to set up.
The first thing you’ll need to do is charge your device. Once it’s fully charged, you’ll want to download the COROS app to your smartphone, set up your account, and pair your watch with your phone.
It’s worth noting that it took about 30 minutes for the watch to finish syncing with my phone, which seemed long, especially as I was itching to start my run.
Once it finally finished, I was prompted to enter personal information, like my name, sex, gender, height, and weight.
I also paired my device to the Strava and TrainingPeaks apps so that I could automatically upload my runs to my training logs.
Additional apps that COROS is compatible with include STRYD, PWR Lab, Runalyze, Final Surge, and Relive.
The COROS app, which simply goes by the same name as the brand, features a “Today” homepage that allows you to view and access data on your activity level, workouts, and sleep.
Additionally, by tapping the calendar icon on the top left corner, you can view previous stats for any given day.
Some of the stats include your active energy (the estimated number of calories burned during workouts and fast walking), exercise time, steps, heart rate, training load, sleep tracking, and fitness index, which takes into account your V̇O₂ max and lactate threshold.
You can also do a deep dive into your heart rate zones and workout stats.
Additionally, the app can be used to save your favorite running routes and share workout stats via your social media account.
Finally, like my Garmin Forerunner 235, you can program speed workouts and interval sessions using the app.
The good news is the COROS Pace 2 possesses nearly all the same software and features found on the brand’s more expensive watches.
For example, in addition to structured workouts, the watch offers preprogrammed training plans, which are ideal if you’re looking for guidance but don’t want to hire a personal trainer.
It’s also ANT+ and Bluetooth-enabled and has increased storage capacity, up to 64 megabytes (MB) from 16 MB offered by the previous model.
For accurate tracking, the watch is equipped with a magnetic compass and barometric altimeter to detect elevation changes. It’s also water-resistant up to 50 meters.
Another cool feature is Night Mode, which allows you to leave the backlight on for the duration of your run. This comes in handy if you typically run early in the morning or late at night when it’s dark out.
While I only used the watch for running, the COROS PACE 2 offers several additional sport modes, including:
- running (indoor, outdoor, and track modes)
- biking (indoor and outdoor)
- swimming (indoor and outdoor)
- rowing (indoor and outdoor)
- gym cardio
- GPS cardio
The COROS PACE 2 also has the ability to track power — a feature more commonly used by cyclists via a shoe or foot pod.
This metric, which is measured in watts, analyzes your training efforts and expended energy on a specific surface. I’m not familiar with how to analyze this metric, as I’ve never trained this way or know how to tell whether it’s accurate, so I didn’t test it out.
Additional features include heart rate and sleep tracking, phone notifications, and COROS EvoLab, which provides feedback on your fitness level, fatigue score, and training load and performance.
One thing to note is the PACE 2 lacks certain smart features offered by other brands, including music storage and the ability to make calls or send texts from your wrist.
It also doesn’t include mountain climbing, skiing, or trail running modes like other COROS wearables, though I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to use the standard running mode for trail runs.
While I was quickly able to figure out how to acquire a GPS signal and start the watch, turning it off and saving my run was a different story.
When I was finished with my run and tried to simply press the stop button, I kept getting a message that the watch was locked. Even flipping between display screens proved to be unsuccessful.
Only when I got home and Googled how to do it did I figure out that I needed to first spin the digital dial, press stop, spin the dial again, and then select save.
In my opinion, four steps are overkill for what should be a simple function.
Plus, as the watch continues to record your data until it’s finally turned off, it suddenly made sense as to why it often looks like my friends who use COROS devices appear to have a much slower final running stretch.
What’s more, as I was sure I’d forget how to stop my watch, I ended up sticking to loops where I wouldn’t have to worry about busy intersections and needing to pause the watch at traffic lights.
With that said, later I learned that you can turn the auto-lock feature off, or change the setting to hold or scroll to unlock. However, without a manual, it’s hard to know about these options.
To better compare the PACE 2 with my Garmin Forerunner 235, I decided to wear both watches — one on each wrist — for my first run.
In addition to having difficulties figuring out how to stop the recording, I noticed that the PACE 2 would split each lap about 200 meters earlier than the Garmin, giving me much faster splits that weren’t really a full mile.
Accuracy is most people’s biggest priority when choosing a GPS watch, so this is a major strike.
While it’s not for me, I can see why people like the COROS PACE 2.
Because of its extra-long battery life, it may be a good fit if you’re an ultrarunner or backpacker. It’s also a good alternative if you’re looking for a simple and more affordable smartwatch with built-in GPS.
However, I personally didn’t find the tracking to be intuitive to use. I also have concerns about the accuracy of the GPS readings as I’ve been running the same routes for years.
Additionally, as it lacks several sport modes found in other devices, those interested in a multisport watch may want to consider a different COROS model or the Garmin Fenix 6s Pro.
While there’s an almost overwhelming number of sport watches to choose from, here’s a quick look at how the COROS PACE 2 stacks up against two of its main competitors: the Apple Watch 6 and the Garmin Forerunner 245.
|COROS PACE 2||Garmin Forerunner 245||Apple Watch 6|
|Weight||1.02 ounces |
|1.36 ounces |
|1.08–1.46 ounces |
|Battery life||up to 20 days||up to 7 days||up to 18 hours|
|Waterproof rating||50 meters||50 meters||50 meters|
|Heart rate monitoring||yes||yes||yes|
|SpO2 monitoring |
(blood oxygen saturation level)
|Smart pay||no||no||yes, Apple Pay|
|Sport mode features|
• indoor running
• track running
• indoor cycling
• pool swimming
• open water swimming
• indoor rowing
• flat water swimming
• strength training
• gym cardio
• GPS cardio
• trail running
• track running
• indoor rowing
• elliptical training
• stair stepper
• cardio training
• indoor cycling
• pool swimming
• strength training
• stair stepper
• functional strength training
• core training
• wheelchair use
*While the original Garmin Forerunner 245 doesn’t offer music, for an additional $50, you can upgrade to the Garmin Forerunner 245 Music, which allows you to play and store music files directly on the device.
As outlined in the table above, the COROS PACE 2 is comparable to other popular, though more expensive, sport watches.
Both the Garmin Forerunner 245 and Apple Watch 6 offer a few additional features that the COROS PACE 2 lacks, such as incident detection (if you fall) and SpO2 tracking.
Not noted in the table, the Apple Watch also includes electrocardiogram (EKG) monitoring and tracks your menstrual cycle and sedentary time. Plus, it’s the only fitness tracker in this list that allows you to make calls and send texts from your watch.
Both COROS PACE 2 and the Garmin Forerunner 245 offer additional features not listed, such as custom workouts, adaptive training plans, and form feedback.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 also offers menstrual cycle tracking, while the COROS PACE 2 stands out for its more affordable price and longer battery life.
Also worth mentioning is COROS PACE 2’s Wrist-Based Running Power, which measures how efficiently you’re running.
The COROS PACE 2 is a relatively affordable sport watch that offers a long battery life and lightweight design. Plus, once you’ve figured out the basic functions, its tracking features are comparable to those of similarly priced models.
However, concerns regarding the accuracy of its GPS tracking and having to spend extra time figuring out how to use the device are two big deal-breakers for me.
At the end of the day, while I can see why others like the COROS PACE 2, I recommend investing in a more intuitive GPS sports watch.