Coros Pace 2 review: Setting the pace

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(Pocket-lint) – Coros is a relative newcomer in the sports watch market, with its Pace 2 an affordable offering that’s looking to take on the likes of Garmin’s Forerunner 55 and Polar’s Ignite 2.

It offers staple features to make it a great running companion – including GPS, heart rate monitoring, and week’s worth of battery life – while it’s also capable of tracking swims, indoor/outdoor cycle sessions, and can even be of use when you swap cardio time for a strength training session.

On paper it reads like a promising and feature-packed experience for very good price. So does Coros deliver the goods?

Design and display

  • 42mm case
  • 11.7mm thick
  • Display: 1.2-inch 240 x 240
  • 20mm interchangeable straps

The Pace 2 is undeniably sporty in the looks department. Although it lacks high-grade case materials, it’s still a watch that’s very comfortable to wear overall.

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There’s a 42mm case size that measures 11.7mm thick and soaks up around the same wrist space as something like the Garmin Forerunner 55. Like Garmin’s watches, you’re getting a case made out of polymer and then there’s a pick of silicone or nylon straps. 

As a package, it weighs anything from 29g-36g depending on the strap you opt for. Our combination with the nylon strap offers the lightest setup, but ultimately, if you want a small and light sports watch, that’s exactly what you’re getting here.

In terms of case colour options, you’ve got five to choose from including the new Pace 2 Speed Series, which adds brighter green, gold and red looks. Our navy option looks smart enough, but that extra splash of colour offered by the new Speed Series is definitely welcome.

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In terms of navigating the watch, there’s a single physical button that can be used to scroll through data from the main watch face, but when held down will also push you into the quick settings menu where you can view satellite signal, check battery status and broadcast heart rate among other things.  

Above that sits another button that can also be twisted, letting you scroll through screens. It’s textured, making it easy to grip when your hands are sweaty or when wearing gloves, and can be used to unlock the watch, as to prevent any accidental tracking.

There’s a 1.2-inch always-on memory LCD display, so there’s no big hit of colour here and it’s not a touchscreen either. You do get something that offers good visibility in bright outdoor light though. There’s a backlight for nighttime workouts too, and a Night Mode you can enable that keeps the backlight on until you finish tracking.

Around the back is where you’ll find the charging point and an optical PPG-style heart-rate monitor, which means you can track your heart rate during exercise and throughout the day and night. 

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You’re getting something that’s fit for the water too. Coros has slapped the Pace 2 with a 5ATM water resistant rating, which makes it safe for being submerged up to 50 metres depth. We’ve been swimming and jumping in the shower with it and we can confirm it’s fit to survive in the water.

Software and performance

  • Works with Strava and other third-party apps
  • Smartphone notifications only 

Coros is very much about sports tracking first and everything after. So its approach to software really reflects that. It’s a watch that works with Android and iOS devices – we’ve used it with both platforms and found the experience to be largely the same – you’ll just need the Coros companion app to set things up, which is stacked with features, settings and screens to look over.

The app is essentially broken into four sections, with the first giving you a snapshot of your daily data (where you’ll go to view your activity tracking and sleep data). The second tab shows your workout history, while the third is where you can delve deeper into features like Coros’ advanced running metrics and stats (it’s also where you can access features like training plans and workout programmes). Last up is a screen dedicated to your device letting you customise elements like watch faces, notification support, and update to the latest firmware.

Sticking to those smartwatch features and Coros really does keep it basic. There’s the ability to change watch faces, though it’s a slow process syncing them over to the watch. You’re also getting phone notifications, which are not the actionable kind, and that’s really your lot. There’s no music controls, payments or app storefront. What might be more appealing is that Coros has sewn up some desirable third-party app support, letting you sync data to Strava, TrainingPeaks, Final Surge, and Adidas Running.

On the watch, it’s a bit like using a Garmin or a Polar watch for the first time. There’s a lot to discover, but once you know where things live, it’s a pretty straightforward experience. Press the top button to scroll through tracking modes and the button below will get you back to the home screen. You can also scroll from the main watch screen to see data widgets like heart rate and sunrise/sunset times, while phone notifications will simply appear when they land on your phone.

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It definitely pays to play around here – both on the watch and the companion app – to get used to what the Pace 2 is actually capable of doing. It can do a lot, but you might just be happy with a no frills experience, which you can get here too.

Sports and fitness tracking 

  • Tracks runs, swims, cycling and indoor workouts
  • EvoLab training metrics and insights
  • Strength training tracking

The Pace 2 feels best built for runners, but like all watches in the Coros range, it’s designed to cater for swimmers, cyclists, and triathletes. You can track steps and sleep, too, but it feels very secondary to those core sports modes.

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There are modes for outdoor running, treadmill running, and track sessions – but you can also track pool and open water swims, and indoor and outdoor bike rides. There are some additional activities supported like rowing (indoor and outdoor) flatwater sports like paddleboarding and there’s a dedicated triathlon mode.

In terms of the sensors at your disposal, there’s support for GPS, Glonass and Beidou satellite systems, for accurately tracking outdoor activities. There’s a thermometer, altimeter and compass to generate additional environmental data and offer navigation assistance and the typical motion sensors used to track steps, indoor activities and enable sleep monitoring. 

There’s also ANT+ and Bluetooth connectivity here, which does mean you can pair up external sensors, including heart-rate monitor chest straps and footpods like Stryd. We managed to pair Garmin HRM-Pro and MyZone MZ-Switch heart rate monitors without issue.

We’ve run indoors and outdoors, taken it to the pool for swimming, and used it for indoor rowing workouts, and can say the Pace 2 holds up well on the accuracy front. In a series of 10K races the GPS accuracy was reliable, as were core metrics like average pace and split times.

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If you’re intrigued by the idea of running power, it offers that metric from the wrist too. Heart rate performance is a familiar story when you up the intensity. For steady runs against a chest strap it held up well for accuracy on average and maximum rate readings. In race testing, maximum heart rate was 8-9bpm off a heart rate monitor chest strap.

For swims, it was a similar story on the accuracy front. Before you get moving, you can adjust pool size, setup goal-based alerts, and then see typical swim stats like distance, pace, and heart rate. Lap and distance tracking held up well against a Garmin watch, so it’s one that works well in the water too.

For indoor workouts like rowing, the Pace 2 offers reliable stroke counts compared to the rower, and similar tracking on a Garmin watch. Coros also offers tracking for strength training, which isn’t new to sports watches but does offer a slightly different approach. It can automatically count reps for over 200 exercises and then offers a muscle heatmap to show you the areas you’ve been focusing on the most. Rep counting accuracy was good enough, but not perfect. It’s obviously an area for wearables in general to improve, but it’s nice to have the option here to have a record of those workouts when you’re not smashing out some cardio.

Beyond tracking Coros does also offer an array of training and analysis features. You can create training and workout programmes that you can follow on the watch. There’s also access to Coros’ Evolab training insights, which include a race predictor that also shows you predicted times and pace you’d need to run to get those times. It can assess your current running performance, view training load and effect insights. It’s a feature designed for runners and for runs on flat terrain. 

Pocket-lintCoros Pace 2 software photo 1

If you’re looking for those deeper running insights, then they are here at your disposal and are usually features you’d expect to find on more expensive sports watches.

Something the Pace 2 can’t do is let you view real-time maps, upload routes or offer any sort of breadcrumb-style navigation. Those features are reserved for its Apex and Vertix watches.

Battery life

  • Up to 20 days per charge
  • 60 hours UltraMax mode
  • 30 hours with full GPS

Coros doesn’t specify the capacity of the battery squeezed into the Pace 2, but it does suggest it’s one you won’t be charging every few days like a sporty smartwatch.

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With a mix of sports tracking and using those very basic smartwatch features, it has the ability to last for up to 20 days. When you start putting the GPS-based tracking to use, then you can expect to get 30 hours of battery life. That doubles if you switch to UltraMax mode, which lengthens the sampling rate of GPS data that means less accurate tracking data. So it might be a good fit when you’re running longer distances and care a little less about your time.

In terms of living up to those lofty battery numbers, the Pace 2 is one that can go a fair distance. An hour’s GPS tracked running tended to dent the battery by less than five per cent. It’s the day-to-day drop-off which really impresses here though – in standby mode it can go for weeks with some regular GPS tracking. It holds that battery better than similarly priced rivals from Garmin and Polar. 

Hold down the bottom physical button and you’ll find a useful battery usage widget that not only tells how much battery is left, but also the estimated time you have to play with, including GPS tracking and what features are draining the battery the most.

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When it comes to charging, there’s a pretty simple charging cable that’s clearly inspired by the one used with Garmin’s Forerunner watches. It clips into the back and does stay put, but like Garmin you’ll want to make sure it’s in a clear charging location as the cable is easy to knock out of place.

Verdict

The Coros Pace 2 gives you a whole lot of sports watch for the money – and crucially is a solid performer where it really matters.

It’s clearly best suited to runners, whether you want reliable GPS performance, the ability to get useful heart rate data (when paired to a chest strap), with more advanced metrics and training features also at your disposal.

It works well for swimming and cycling, and while it’s not the best-looking watch out there, it’s one you can wear comfortably 24/7 – including for sleep.

If you want a good mix of smartwatch and sports watch features, there are better options available at this price and you should cast your attention to something like the Garmin Forerunner 55. But if you just care about tracking runs, rides and swims accurately and not having to regularly reach for the charging cable, then the Pace 2 is definitely one to look at.

Also consider

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Garmin Forerunner 55

A great watch for all-round sports tracking and running-focused training features. There’s also an app store, which you don’t get on the Pace 2. The on-watch software feels a little more slick too.

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Pocket-lintAlternatives photo 1

Polar Ignite 2

Polar’s most affordable sports watch offers rich sleep and recovery insights and its great FitSpark suggested workouts to make it a better fit for general fitness folk.

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Writing by Michael Sawh. Editing by Mike Lowe. Originally published on .





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