Coros Pace 2 review: a true Garmin rival at a great price

A quite brilliant, affordable sports watch that is sure to worry Garmin and Polar
Coros Pace 2
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The Coros Pace 2 could be the running watch that makes Garmin and Polar stand up and take notice.

The follow-up to its debut Coros Pace watch, which launched back in 2018, still has triathletes firmly in mind. It also has the kind of profile and features that make it a pretty formidable running watch too.

At $199.99, it's clearly got the Garmin Forerunner 45 and Polar Ignite firmly in its sights.

With features like running power from the wrist, 30 hours of GPS battery life and an impressive level of tracking for sports like swimming and strength training, Coros looks to have got the mix of pricing and features just right.

We've had a Pace 2 to live with for a while now, putting it to the running, swimming and fitness tracking test to see just what it's made of. Here's our full verdict.

Coros Pace 2: Design, screen and comfort

Coros Pace 2 showing screen on wrist

The first Pace it's fair to say aped Garmin watches in a pretty big way. With the Pace 2, you can still expect an undeniably sporty look, but it feels like a very different watch for a few reasons. It's smaller for starters, dropping from a 46mm polymer case down to a 42mm one, which gives it the same size case as the Forerunner 45S and the Forerunner 245.

With that drop in case size, this is a watch that sits significantly lighter on the wrist.

It weighs 29g with one of its nylon bands making it lighter than both Forerunner 45 models and the Polar Ignite.

It still hosts a size 1.2-inch display like the first Pace with a 240 x 240 resolution that matches what you'll find on the Forerunner 245.

Our general feelings about the screen is that the one on the original felt a bit more vibrant. You're not getting a serious pop of colour and it feels a little on the dim side.

Coros Pace 2 vs Coros Pace side by side

Coros Pace 2 (left) and Coros Pace (right)

Coros has introduced a night mode that can be enabled to switch on the backlight at the times where it thinks you're going to make best use of it. It's clearly a move to help preserve battery life when it thinks you won't need it during the day.

That backlight screen doesn't get exceptionally bright and there's no way to adjust screen brightness either. We'd be inclined to say you get something sharper and brighter on the Forerunner 45.

The case comes in you pick of dark navy or white colours and that can be partnered up with a 22mm nylon band or silicone band. We had the nylon option, which is a clear nod to Apple's nylon Watch bands.

Except the one we had (not a final version) didn't feel the greatest quality. Our preference was to work out with a silicone band, so we did need to switch out the not so fantastic nylon band.

There's no touchscreen navigation here, which is completely fine by us. Instead you have solitary physical button on the bottom right of the case that can be pressed to open up additional settings menu.

There's also the twisty digital knob, which is essentially a watch crown pushed higher up the case. This lets you scroll through screens and can be pressed to select items.

That twisty crown is a nice alternative to standard physical buttons for scrolling and will be a better fit when you have to stick some gloves when it comes to winter training.

As a watch that's designed for triathletes, you can expect a suitable waterproof rating and the Pace 2 carries a 5ATM rating making it suitable for getting into water up to 50 metres depth.

Coros Pace 2: Sports and fitness tracking

Coros Pace 2 menu showing tracked sport profiles

For a $199.99 watch, the Pace 2 does a lot and overall does that lot very well.

In terms of the kind of sensors you can expect, you're getting built-in GPS with GLONASS, BEIDOU satellite systems also supported. Galileo is also expect to be added in a future software update. There's an optical heart rate monitor, altimeter and accelerometer for indoor tracking.

That sensor collection is completed with a compass, gyroscope and a thermometer with dedicated screens on the watch showing off temperature and sunrise/sunset times.

Coros Pace 2 detailed running session breakdown

Coros also offers ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity letting you pair up additional sensors like heart rate monitor chest straps, its own running dynamics pod and now the Stryd foot pod. That brings running power to the party too, and Coros promises to generate power metrics without an additional sensor as well. Though that's not something we've been able to test during our time.

When it's time to get tracking, there's plenty of options to pick from. You've got running, treadmill running, track running, cycling (indoor and outdoor), swimming (indoor and open water), a dedicated triathlon mode, strength training and some cardio options too.

We focused our time largely on running, pool swimming and strength training modes and we're happy to say they deliver a solid tracking performance overall.


Coros Pace 2 comparison of running data with Garmin

Run tracking compared: Coros Pace 2 (left) and Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar (centre and right)

For running, you can set up interval training sessions, turn on activity alerts and enable auto pause. Picking up GPS signal thankfully isn't sluggish and then you can hit start and you can use that twisting button to scroll through your data fields. There's the basics, but you're also getting cadence, elevation and a stamina, which looks at your effort levels and training history to see if you've got enough in the tank to smash your session.

Once you're done, you can scroll through your run on the watch and then get a bigger breakdown in the Coros app. Thankfully syncing is nice and quick too, so you're not waiting long to delve deeper. What we tended to find was that core and some more advanced metrics held up against a Garmin running watch. Data like distance, pace, average cadence and mapping near enough matched up on most occasions.


Coros Pace 2 swimming tracking

Swim tracking compared: Coros Pace 2 (left and centre) and Form Swim Goggles (right)

We had a largely good experience swimming with the Apex and the Vertix and it's more of the same with the Pace 2. The lighter, smaller design makes it a better fit for the water and while we have some gripes about the display, it offers a decent enough viewing experience.

Pre-swim, your settings are more limited letting choose pool size and setting up distance alerts. Once you get swimming, you'll be able to see distance, pace, heart rate, lap time, lap distance, lap pace and heart rate. You can hit the bottom physical button when you take rests and then tap it again when you're ready to go again.

In the companion app you can see further details on strokes, stroke rate, SWOLF and recognition of your stroke for each lap. The only other watch at this price point that comes close to this level of swim data is the Polar Ignite. The Pace 2 takes things up a level and crucially, it's accurate too when we put it up against the Form Swim Goggles.

Strength training

Coros Pace 2 strength training features

In a move to recognise that people who run, swim and cycle might also do a bit of strength training, Coros has moved to add support to better track that time in the gym or when you grab the weights.

Select the strength mode and then you'll be asked to pick the area of the body you'll be working on. You can then see a rep counting data field and when you're done with working on your arms, you can set whether you're continue working on your arms or move onto the upper body.

As we found on the Vertix, the rep counting wasn't perfect, but it was certainly more reliable than similar rep counting features on Samsung and Garmin watches we've tried. The muscle heatmap in the app is a nice touch to let you know where you're dedicating that training and whether you dedicating enough time to all areas of the body.

Coros Pace 2: Fitness tracking

Coros Pace 2 general fitness tracking and steps data

Step tracking compared: Coros Pace 2 (left) and Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar (right)

Using the Pace as a fitness tracker definitely feels very secondary to sports tracking, but it is there if you want to count steps and track sleep. From the watch you can see step counts from the dedicated watch faces and you'll also find a dedicated widget that will additional show steps climbed, activity minutes and calorie burn. There's no inactivity alerts or the kind of motivational features you'll find on dedicated fitness trackers.

Coros Pace 2 sleep tracking vs garmin

Sleep tracking compared: Coros Pace 2 (left) and Garmin Fenix 6 Pro Solar (right)

Back in the app you'll find continuous heart rate data and sleep data, which is automatically tracked. You'll get a breakdown of deep, light and total sleep as well as heart rate range. It does lack REM sleep tracking insights. It tended to report a slightly earlier time for when we actually fell asleep and that sleep breakdown was is in the ballpark in comparison to a Garmin fitness tracker.

Coros Pace 2: Heart rate accuracy

Coros Pace 2 heart rate testing comparison

Heart rate tracking compared: Coros Pace 2 (left) and Polar H9 chest strap (right)

The heart rate monitor is primarily used to fuel fitness features, but it can also generate continuous heart rate readings including during sleep. Those daily averages totted up with what we saw on the Garmin watch we had on our other wrist.

When it's time to put it to use for workouts, you'll get real-time readouts, but heart rate data will also feed into Training Load insights to make sure you're not training too much. It also powers your Fitness Index, which takes into consideration VO2 Max and lactate threshold data.

All of these insights are reliable on that heart rate sensor being reliable. Or pairing up a chest strap to get the most accurate data. If you take the first option, heart rate data in our experience is very good. For evenly tempo runs, it posted identical average and maximum heart rate readings or readings that were at most 1-2BPM out from a chest strap.

When we pushed it harder for some high intensity interval training, it didn't suffer as bad as we anticipated it would either. There's still a little lag matching the spikes and drops in heart rate, but it's certainly not the worse we've tried. Invest in a chest strap to pair up with it and you'll get the kind of reliable data you crave.

Coros Pace 2: Smartwatch features and app

Coros Pace 2 smartwatch and notifications

If you're hoping for a raft of smartwatch features, then you're going to be disappointed. You can view notifications from Android phones and iPhones, but that's your lot. There's no music controls, payments or apps.

That notification support is basic too. Once you've chosen which apps to receive notifications from in the companion app, you can see more recent notifications, but they can't be expanded or responded too.

Coros Pace 2 third party apps

We've seen new sports watch companies arrive on the scene and make good hardware, but where it normally comes all crashing down is with the software. The first version of the Coros app felt very basic and sparse, but a lot has happened since then.

In the app, it's broken into four sections. The first is your snapshot of most recent data and then next up is your stream of recorded workouts. The next couple of sections are worth getting to know as there's fair few more features to discover here.

You can create training programs, see your records and view your muscle heat map for strength training. It's also here where you can link up with other 3rd party apps and there's the big names here. Strava, TrainingPeaks, Relive and Runalyze are all covered here.

It's a well thought out app that continues to improve and most importantly, it doesn't keep you waiting long to review your data.

Coros Pace 2: Battery life

Coros has really impressed with what it has managed to deliver in battery life performance. Whether that's while tracking or in standby mode, its watches really go the distance.

On the Pace 2, the numbers are good again. It's 20 days in regular use, 40 days in standby mode and 30 hours in GPS mode. There's also a 60 UltraMax mode, where it will sample GPS data over a longer period of time. You sacrifice accuracy to be able to track those longer sessions. Those jump in numbers mean 5 more GPS hours, 10 more standby days and 10 more UltraMax hours than the first Pace.

To put those GPS battery numbers into perspective with other watches, that's more than what you'll get on the Forerunner 245 and it matches the Polar Vantage M.

In reality, those numbers do seem to ring true. Tracking workouts doesn't knock the battery in any really undesirable way. An hour running or swimming only saw the battery drop a few percent. Like the Vertix and the Apex, this watch is great in standby mode. If you leave it for a few days or maybe a week, you'll likely find you've got enough to go track a workout still.

A bit of a surprise feature is the quite brilliant battery usage setting. This can be found by pressing the bottom physical button on the watch. From here, you can see remaining power, but also estimated daily use numbers, GPS use left and shows you what feature is hogging the battery.

More good news is that Coros has ditched the charging set up that came with the Pace and now uses the same plug charging cable as its other watches. It's not too slow charging back up either when that battery does finally run out.

Coros Pace 2
By Coros
You'd be hard pressed to find a watch at this price that can deliver what the Coros Pace 2 delivers. It's a great running companion and also offers reliable tracking for other sports too. What it lacks in smartwatch features and looks, it makes up in training and workout extras that give it added appeal. The similarly priced Garmin Forerunner 45 and Polar Ignite might get you a nicer looking watch, but if you care about sports tracking, big battery life and metrics, this is one to go for.

  • Great sports tracking
  • Plenty of metrics
  • Big battery life
  • Screen brightness could be better
  • Misses out on big training insights
  • Still quite a bland design