- Great overall sports tracking
- Still great battery life
- Great value for money
- More expensive than Pace 2
- Looks dated next to newest Garmins
- Smartwatch features not on par with competition
The Coros Pace 3 is the cheapest watch in the Coros collection but it’s arguably its most important.
While Coros is a relatively new player in the sports watch space, it's gone toe-to-toe with Garmin And the Pace represents something that Garmin hasn’t offered in its vast collection. It's an affordable multisport watch for triathletes, runners, cyclists, and swimmers, and will lure away those who won't pay over $500/£500 for a watch.
Coros’ goal has been to offer as close an experience to the one you’ll get on its more expensive Vertix and Apex watches. You might not get full mapping support, but you do get the ability to upload routes and use breadcrumb-style navigation.
You don’t get the Vertix 2’s ECG sensor, but you do get a pulse oximeter and an upgraded optical heart rate sensor that promises more accurate exercise HR data.
The Pace 3 is about offering value and it’s promising to offer more value than rival watches like the Garmin Forerunner 55 and the Polar Pacer.
We've spent weeks testing, running, sweating, sleeping, and living with the Pace 3. Here's our verdict.
Price and competition
One of the most appealing aspects of the Pace 2 was the price. It sat below $200/£200, so while not cheap, it was certainly more affordable than a lot of other multisport watches.
At $229 / £219 the Pace 3 does have a slight price increase. It’s more expensive than the Polar Pacer and the Garmin Forerunner 55, but cheaper than Garmin’s Forerunner 265, older Forerunner 255, and the Polar Pacer Pro.
Looking inside Coros' collection, the Pace 3 is over $100/£100 cheaper than the Apex 2, the next watch up from the Pace. The Apex 2 gets you full mapping support and more battery life but lacks the dual-frequency GNSS support and the lighter, more compact design you’ll get with the Pace 3.
So paying less doesn’t always mean picking up an inferior watch. At least in the case of Coros’ watches.
Design and display
The design of the Coros Pace 2 was a big improvement on the original Pace, which felt very much like a Garmin clone. It was a different story for the Pace 2 as it offered something light, comfortable, and undeniably likable.
At 42mm it's pretty small and unisex, the same size as the Forerunner 265S. But that means that those with larger wrists, who like a larger watch, may find this a little small.
The Pace 3 offers more of the same with the big change being the addition of touchscreen functionality.
You can choose whether to turn it on for all of your watch interactions or just when you’re in navigation mode.
This isn’t the kind of slick touchscreen support you get on a Forerunner 265 sadly, with Coros taking a more haptic-style approach. But if you’ve been pining to be able to tap and swipe on the Pace screen, that functionality has now been served up to an acceptable standard.
The screen that touchscreen support has been added to remains an always-on LCD kind and measures in at the same 1.2 inches with the same 240 x 240 resolution promised.
Only the Vertex 2 has a higher resolution screen in the Coros range, but that’s a better quality screen on something like the more expensive Garmin Forerunner 255. But, of course, it lacks the color and vibrancy you get on an AMOLED it makes up for visibility and can squeeze a big set of data fields without things feeling cramped. And that means people will look to the likes of the Forerunner 265, even if it's nearly double the price.
You’ve still got two physical buttons, including a rotating dial if the touchscreen life isn’t for you, with Coros moving to bigger 22mm straps (up from 20mm) that are still the quick-release kind.
The nylon strap we had felt higher quality than the Pace 2’s nylon bands, while the additional silicone one is your typical sporty watch band.
Overall lightness remains key here, so there’s still polymer used in the watch case and while it’s jumped up ever so slightly in weight compared to the Pace 2, this feels like the same watch. If we sound disappointed, we’re not.
The Pace 3 is still a likable, compact, and inobtrusive watch that fades to the background on the wrist.
One of the most appealing aspects of Coros' watches is the type of battery life they deliver. During tracking and in standby mode, they go far and that’s true of the Pace 3 as well.
We used the watch with notifications enabled, tracking steps, heart rate, sleep, streaming music, and the top dual frequency GNSS mode.
Day-to-day, the typical battery drop meant it lasted well over a week. Coros says it can last up to 24 days compared to 20 days on the Pace 2 – and you will get that if you’re not using all of its power-hungry features daily. If you do, it’s more like a week as opposed to weeks.
The battery difference using dual frequency GNSS over standard GPS is 15 hours compared to 38 hours.
During that top GPS tracking mode, we used it for 30 minutes up to over an hour, at times with a heart rate monitor and Bluetooth headphones paired.
Over an hour of GPS-tracked running saw the battery drop by around 3-4%. With music streaming in play as well, the battery drop is closer to 10%, which is a similar sort of drop we see with music streaming from Garmin watches that also offer built-in music players.
Ultimately, the Pace 3 like the Pace 2, has a strong battery and delivers what Coros has promised on its other watches.
The training features Coros includes on the Pace 3 are largely the same ones included on the Pace 2, with the notable addition of the ability to evaluate SpO2 levels when at altitude, thanks to the inclusion of a pulse oximeter sensor.
You have Coros’ Evolab suite for running-focused analytics, which gives you insights into your fatigue, recovery, and VO2 Max scores and recommends recovery time.
You can view a running fitness score on the watch, which is also tied to the run predictor, which despite not being at our usual level of running fitness did suggest some slower-than-expected times.
If you’re using it for runs, each run in the Coros app additionally offers advanced running metrics like running power.
This didn’t typically match up with the wrist-based running data on a Garmin, though the watches do calculate that data through different algorithms. But it isn't as reliable as a foot pod sensor like a Stryd for delivering power data.
Coros’ Effort pace metric, which is based on training history and heart rate data often matched up or was close to the grade-adjusted pace data from a Garmin watch, which is good to see.
What most of these training insights lack though is packaging them up in a way that makes the data easy to understand what it's telling you about your training. A bit like Garmin's useful Training Readiness feature.
It’s a similar story with features like building workouts and training plans, where the features work well, but delivery inside of the app isn’t super slick just yet.
So there is work to be done, and the advanced metrics don't feel as well-rounded or useful as Garmin. But crucially, those metrics only start on Garmin watches with big $500+ price tags. So finding this level of analysis and training features at this price is still really good to see.
Heart rate accuracy
Coros has introduced a new, upgraded optical heart rate monitor with a 5-LED setup promising more accurate wrist-based measurements compared to the Pace 2.
The Pace 2 wasn’t a bad performer by any stretch of the imagination, plus you do have the option to pair external heart rate sensors here too. We paired Coros’ heart rate monitor and the Garmin HRM-Pro+ chest strap with zero issues.
In terms of the performance of that new optical sensor, we’d say it’s very good overall, particularly during our more high-intensity tests where most wrist-based optical heart rate sensors falter.
We were using it alongside Coros’ heart rate monitor armband, which has performed well in our accuracy tests, along with Garmin’s HRM Pro+ chest strap monitor, to compare to the most accurate method of tracking heart rate during exercise.
As you can see from the screenshots below and above during steady-paced workouts the sensor held up well for average and maximum heart rate readings. The heart rate graph told a similar story of the session as well.
It was when we upped things for reps and interval-style track and treadmill sessions that we anticipated the Pace 3 would have more problems, but that wasn’t the case. It feels like the combination of the Pace 3’s compact design and reliable fit helps the watch deliver very pleasing heart rate tracking results.
Dual-frequency GNSS chipsets are a big deal for sports watches right now – because they promise improved accuracy around tall buildings, largely forested areas, and in bad weather.
Coros added this chipset to the Apex 2 Pro and the Vertix 2 with mixed results. On the Pace 3, the GPS accuracy feels better and more reliable.
We’ve used the Pace 3 with that most accurate mode in use, which does notably drain more of the battery, but that’s a similar story to what you’ll experience on a Garmin watch and most other watches with that more accurate mode in use.
We used it predominantly alongside the Garmin Forerunner 965 with its multiband mode and found that the Pace 3 held up well on the accuracy front.
We’ve used it in track sessions to get a clear idea of accuracy and on routes to throw up taller buildings and managed to test it around more mountainous terrain to see how it handled conditions that can scupper picking up a reliable satellite signal.
Overall we were very impressed. A closer look at tracked routes and the Pace 3 generally does pretty well with not too many noticeable wobbles in tracks, which means metrics like pace and splits were generally reliable.
Garmin, Apple, and Suunto have arguably offered the best of this new dual-band support and the Pace 3 isn’t too far off what we’ve experienced on watches like the Forerunner 965, Apple Watch Ultra, and Suunto Vertical.
Add to the already strong sports tracking we enjoyed for activities like pool swimming and general workouts and the Pace 3 much like the Pace 2 remains a bit of a sports tracking powerhouse.
Mapping and navigation
It’s typically unusual at the price that the Pace 3 sits to find the kind of mapping and navigation support you’ll find on watches like the Coros Vertix 2, Garmin Fenix 7, and Epix.
So what Coros strives to offer is some form of support that still means you can use the watch to go exploring and also make sure you can get back home.
You can create routes and build routes from previously logged workouts in a pretty straightforward fashion from the Coros companion app. Coros also supports third-party apps like Komoot, to sync routes over from as well. Once they’re synced over you’ll be able to see uploaded routes from the Navigation menu in your pre-workout tracking settings.
It’s breadcrumb-style navigation so you’re simply following a line on a screen where you’re not getting any sort of mapping detail to give you a sense of your surroundings. There’s also a back-to-the-start mode, if you need some assistance getting back home.
There’s also a lack of turn-by-turn directions, which is coming with the feature currently in beta testing.
If you want a watch that lets you upload routes and offers some navigation support, this ticks the box.
It’s simply not going to rival what you’ll find on pricier watches and the experience isn’t as slick as watches with similar support that pack bigger screens or higher-resolution displays.
Sleep and health tracking
If you’re planning to wear the Pace 3 all day then you will get some use out of it when not tracking your exercise time. This is a watch that will track your heart rate continuously, monitor sleep, and daily steps, and has an altimeter to measure stairs climbed as well.
Like other Coros watches, it doesn’t feel like a huge priority for Coros, and is more of a box-ticking exercise.
You can view elements of that data from watch faces and drill a bit deeper into the widgets stream on the watch with those stats displayed in the Progress section of the Coros app.
In terms of continuous heart rate data, we found at times the heart rate data compared to Garmin’s continuous monitoring felt a touch higher for average readings.
Daily step counts were in the ballpark of Garmin’s tracking too, while sleep tracking against the Oura Ring Gen 3 and Ultrahuman Ring Air, two reliable sleep tracking rings, performed well for capturing similar sleep duration data, though sleep stages generally seemed to differ.
You're not getting sleep scores, insights, or anything outside of the core sleep stats you'll typically find on most watches that offer sleep monitoring. It'll grab heart rate ranges during that time, but it doesn't seem to be doing much with that data or giving you a sense of what that range represents.
As we said, this aspect of the Pace 3 isn't why you're going to pick it up. You’re not seeing correlations between aspects like sleep and recovery in the same way that you do on Polar and Garmin watches, but maybe that's to come with Coros.
Much like the Pace 3’s fitness tracker-style features, its smartwatch ones are a work in progress. Coros knows people want their sports watches to become more useful outside of tracking and it’s seeking to offer more features on that front.
The most notable one is the addition of a 4GB music player, which now means you can plug the Pace 3 into a computer using the charging cable and drag and drop over MP3 files only to stream music from the watch once you’ve paired some Bluetooth headphones to it.
We piled on some older purchased music and podcasts, which isn’t a super quick process to transfer them over. The music controls are pretty basic, but you do have touchscreen support to make it an easier feature to use.
We paired Apple's AirPods Pro 2 and the Jabra Elite 8 Active earbuds to them with no issues and then you’re good to take your music on the move. The lack of offline support for services like Spotify is telling here and it’s a shame that support isn’t in place. It’s a shame because the feature in general works well, but lacks the overall polish of Garmin’s music player integration.
Outside of the music player, you’re getting the same features as the Pace 2. Notification support is pretty basic and reading them on that dinky display isn’t a fantastic experience. It’s handy to find my phone and watch modes here, but outside of notifications and music, Coros has some work to do with making its watches feel a lot more like smartwatches.
How we test