Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3

Do you go affordable Coros or Garmin sports watch?
Wareable Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3
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The Coros Pace 3 and Garmin Forerunner 165 are two of the best-value multisport watches you can strap onto your wrist right now.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a watch primarily built for tracking runs that can also monitor swims, rides, and some indoor workout time too, these are great options to do that.

They're also available at a much cheaper price than rivals.

We've tested both and thrown both back on for some side-by-side testing to see which affordable watch is going to be the best fit for you.

Read our reviews: Garmin Forerunner 165 review | Coros Pace 3 review.


We've mentioned the price already, and you can consider these mid-range multisport watches.

The Pace 3 is the cheaper of the two, coming in at $229/£219

The Pace 3 includes a music player as standard, so you'll be getting that in addition to everything else Coros has to offer for less money than the 165.


The Forerunner 165 pricing starts at $249/£249.

That jumps up to $289.99/£289.99 for the Forerunner 165 Music edition, which adds Wi-Fi connectivity and a music player.



WareableGarmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3

If you like your watches small, then you'll be well served with both of these watches.

The Pace 3 is the smaller of the two, with a 41.9mm case, while both the Forerunner 165 and 165 Music feature 43mm cases.

Those cases are both made from polymer, so they're light to wear and weigh the same 39g/1.4oz if you pick them both up with a silicone strap.

Coros offers the Pace 3 with a nylon strap, which drops the weight down to 30g/1.1oz. Those straps are removable on both watches, and it's nice and easy to do as well.

What you find dotted around those cases does differ. The Pace 3 has just two physical buttons, including a rotating crown one to scroll through the watch interface.

The Garmin has five physical buttons in total. In reality, having fewer buttons on the Coros doesn't make it a more awkward experience interacting with it on a day-to-day basis.

WareableGarmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3

On the screen front, both have 1.2-inch-sized displays, but the display technologies are very different.

The 165 packs a more vibrant and more colorful AMOLED display, while the Coros uses a transflective LCD display that stays on at all times and prioritizes offering strong visibility in bright outdoor light. If you want to keep the Forerunner 165's display on at all times you will see its battery life drop pretty significantly.

Those screens do also offer touchscreen functionality, though Garmin's is more in keeping with the touchscreens you'll find on non-sporty smartwatches, so it's slicker and smoother in general. 

The touchscreen on the Pace 3 has a more haptic feel to it, so you'll feel the screen softly vibrate as you interact with it. It works fine, it's just a different experience from the 165's touchscreen.

Both are suitable for swimming, offering 5ATM-rated designs that make them safe to be submerged in water up to 50 meters depth.

Sports and training features

WareableGarmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3

Tracking exercise is a priority for both of these watches, and while running is the key reason to grab both, they're also well adept at tracking swims (open and pool) and cycling too.

If you do triathlons, the Pace 3 does offer a dedicated mode for the multi-discipline event, whereas the 165 lacks this.

Both offer modes for tracking indoor workouts.

The Coros Pace 3 uses a newer dual-frequency or dual-band GPS mode, which seeks to boost GPS accuracy where single-band setups can falter. So tracking near tall buildings, in bad weather, and in deeply forested areas.

The Forerunner 165 doesn't include a dual-band mode so it does lag on paper. However, we had no complaints about its performance in our review period, so unless you're regularly running in built-up areas, this certainly shouldn't be a dealbreaker.

If you care about tracking your heart rate during exercise, both offer optical-based HR with support to pair to external heart rate monitors.

The Pace 3's optical heart rate sensor performed better in our tests in general and feels the more reliable of the two, particularly for high-intensity workouts.

So if you're going to rely on wrist-based heart rate readings, it's the Pace 3 for us.

WareableGarmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3

Neither watch offers the ability to view full maps, though does give you the ability to upload routes and use point-to-point navigation support as well as the ability to follow routes in real-time with a breadcrumb trail.

The Pace 3's screen offers a touch more on the screen during that time to make the experience a visually more engaging mode, though the core performance is similar across the two watches, with scope to bring the touchscreens into play for moving around the screen.

In terms of training features, there's plenty here across both watches.

Garmin offers its beginner-friendly Garmin Coach plans that can be synced to the watch, and its daily suggested workouts for runners and cyclists. It also has more advanced features like its PacePro Pacing strategies and does serve up pretty reliable race predictions as well.

The Pace 3 also lets you follow training plans, upload workouts, conduct fitness tests, set up interval training, and also offer race predictions all from the watch.

WareableGarmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3

Both offer similar training insights and will provide recovery time recommendations, monitor training load, and track your VO2 Max. We’d say the presentation of that data is a touch more user-friendly on the Garmin, though insights, in general, like recovery time and VO2 Max scores, tell similar stories.

If you want them to track your steps, sleep, heart rate, and blood oxygen levels, both are equipped to do that. Coros’ approach to tracking steps and sleep is a more simplistic affair compared to what Garmin offers on this front in terms of extra sleep metrics and motivating you to move more. Sleep tracking certainly isn’t a strength for either of these brands, but Garmin slightly edges things on accuracy and overall usefulness.

Smartwatch features and battery life

WareableGarmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3

If you care about having a lot of smartwatch features, there’s only one watch for you here, and that’s the 165. Like the Pace 3, it’s Android and iOS-friendly and offers richer notification support, including when paired with an Android phone.

That means you can respond to some messages and view images sent in messages. It also has contactless payments, access to Garmin’s Connect IQ Store, smartphone music playback controls, and a really handy Morning Report to wake up to. The color display also makes it feel more like a smartwatch.

If you opt to pay more for the 165 Music, you get a music player, which lets you sync your own music via dragging and dropping them from a computer or using Wi-Fi to sync music from streaming services including Spotify and Deezer.

The Coros Pace 3 also has a music player though lacks Garmin’s smartphone music controls. You can only drag and drop your audio via computer with no support to do the same with any music streaming service. You do also get the ability to view notifications and access Find My Phone and watch modes, but its smartwatch support is clearly inferior to Garmin’s.

It’s worth talking about connectivity as well here because both Forerunner 165 models offer Bluetooth and ANT+ connectivity for pairing up external devices or connecting to other connected fitness equipment. The 165 Music additionally offers Wi-Fi for music syncing.

The Pace 3 offers Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity, though its Wi-Fi support is built for syncing your workout data only.

WareableGarmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3

Things swing back into Coros’ favor when it comes to battery life.

The Pace 3’s battery numbers generally wipe the floor with the 165, whether you’re looking at using it as a smartwatch or when GPS is in use.

Garmin claims up to 11 days of battery against Coros’ 15-17 days. When you compare full GPS battery life numbers, the Pace 3 delivers 38 hours versus 19 hours on the 165.

Even if you factor in streaming music while tracking, the Coros offers more. When we used the two watches for the same training, both were good for a week's use, but it was more 4-5 days for the 165 with the Pace 3 pushing through to a full week.

Using them in their best GPS modes, battery drop was generally the same, but without a power-sapping AMOLED, the Pace 3 simply has the capability to go for longer on a single charge.

Both use proprietary charging cables, though one thing we do like about the Coros is the optional charging keyring you can pick up to make sure you always have a charging cable nearby.

Which is right for you?

These are two of the best, midrange multisport watches you can buy right now that offer likable designs, great performance, and a strong array of training and insights. The Coros Pace 3 offers exceptional value and is the watch to go for if you prioritize performance over everything else. Whether that’s GPS, heart rate, or battery life, that’s where it excels.

If you want a sports watch that also gives you solid performance, more pleasing on-watch software, a color screen, and is more of a smartwatch/sports watch hybrid, then it’s the 165 you want.

Key specs compared

FeatureGarmin Forerunner 165Coros Pace 3
Size40.6 x 40.6 x 11.8 mm41.9 x 41.9 x 11.7 mm
Weight39g39g (silicone band), 30g (nylon band)
Display1.2" color AMOLED1.2" Memory LCD (240x240)
Battery LifeUp to 11 days (watch mode), 19 hours (GPS mode)Standard GPS: 38 hours; All Systems On: 25 hours; Dual Frequency: 15 hours; Daily Use: 17 days
Water Resistance5 ATM5 ATM
GPSGPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, QZSSDual-frequency + GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou, QZSS
Sport Modes TrackedRunning, cycling, swimming, track running, treadmill running, hiking, biking, indoor biking, pool swimming, open water swimming, elliptical training, stair stepping, floor climbing, strength training, HIIT, cardio, yoga, PilatesInformation not available

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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