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COROS Apex 2 Vs. Garmin Forerunner 255 – Which Watch Is Right For You?

 

COROS and Garmin are two big names in running watches. If you’re in the market for a new watch, they probably have one that’s right for you.

In this article, we’ll compare the COROS Apex 2 vs. Garmin Forerunner 255. COROS is known for its battery life, and the Apex 2 doesn’t disappoint. But Garmin is the market leader in running watches, and the Forerunner 255 is possibly the best they’ve ever released.

So which one would be the best for your needs?

Let’s look at each one in detail, side by side, so you can figure out which one might be your new running gear.

Quick Comparison

The Apex 2 and Forerunner 255 come in at around the same price and are made for runners looking for a cost-effective yet feature-packed watch that performs well and looks good.

Both are excellent choices, especially if you have a brand preference between the two. However, the Garmin Forerunner 255 has a few more things going for it than the Apex.

It features a slightly larger screen with a better resolution than the COROS Apex 2, featuring damage-resistant glass.

Other features that place the Garmin just ahead of the COROS include small features like an irregular heart rate warning, call control that allows you to mute or reject a call on your wrist, and Garmin Pay, which lets you pay for things with the watch.

But don’t let that make your mind up too quickly. The COROS has an extremely durable watch face made from sapphire glass. It also connects to GPS faster, which could be the deciding factor for some. Of course, it also has COROS’ superb battery life and a longer warranty. COROS has also established itself as a brand that frequently updates the firmware, meaning a longer period of time before it becomes obsolete.

But both watches are excellent choices, so keep reading for a detailed comparison.

Overview

Apex 2

The Apex 2 is the upgraded version of COROS’ Apex. It’s important to note that it comes in two versions—the Apex 2 and the Apex 2 Pro. The Pro features a slightly larger screen and better battery life.

Both come in a few different colors and feature COROS’ nylon band, as opposed to a silicone band. This lightens the watch and reduces potential problems for those sensitive to silicone.

COROS states that these watches are for “training and trailblazing,” which means they have excellent training features for runners and cross-trainers but also have functions for other outdoor activities like skiing, climbing, or canoeing.

Forerunner 255

The Forerunner 255 is the upgraded version of Garmin’s Forerunner 245. It’s important to note that it comes in two versions—the regular Forerunner 255 and the 255S.

Both versions have a music and non-music edition, and you can choose from more color options than the COROS. They all come with the standard, interchangeable Garmin silicone band.

The Forerunner 255 has multiple lifestyle features that make it a great choice for most runners who want to do cross-training but are more interested in general life metrics.

Size and Display

Apex 2

The Apex 2 features a 1.2-inch LCD display with 240 x 240 pixels resolution. The Apex 2 Pro has a 1.3-inch screen at 260 x 260 pixels.

Both of them have a touchscreen, although it’s only utilized in maps—you still have to use the buttons or the crown to scroll through menus or widgets (COROS has said an update is planned to fix this). You can also turn the touchscreen feature off completely if you prefer.

You can choose from a wide range of watch faces. Some watch faces also allow you to change their color for further customization.

Forerunner 255

The Forerunner 255 has a 1.3-inch screen. As well as being slightly larger than the equivalent COROS, it’s also higher in resolution, at 260 x 260 pixels. The smaller S features a 1.1-inch screen at a lower resolution of 218 x 218 pixels.

There’s no touchscreen feature on either of these watches, but considering it’s only minimally used on the COROS, this isn’t a great loss.

One of the things we like about this watch is that you can choose a watch face from a huge library, but the exciting part is that many of them are customizable. This means you can choose which data elements you want to be displayed on the face, which is great for those who like to see certain metrics on the go.

Battery

Apex 2

COROS is way ahead of most running watches in terms of battery life. The Apex 2 offers a superb battery. You will get up to 17 days in smartwatch mode, 45 hours in standard GPS mode, and 30 hours in all-systems mode.

Note that the battery life comes at the expense of minute-by-minute heart rate tracking and HRV tracking at night. It takes a little under two hours to charge fully.

The Apex 2 Pro has a slightly larger battery, improving its battery life. If battery life is what you’re after, then you’d be better off with the Pro. It offers up to 75 hours of GPS battery life and an extended smartwatch battery life.

Forerunner 255

The Forerunner 255 also has an improved battery compared to its previous version, featuring up to 14 days of battery in regular smartwatch mode. In GPS mode, you can expect around 30 hours, which is significantly shorter than the COROS but still more than the previous version of this watch.

Naturally, listening to music, using the PulseOx regularly, or tracking data every hour of the day will reduce the battery life.

The 255 S is slightly smaller, giving you around 12 days in smartwatch mode and 26 hours in GPS-only mode. Like the COROS, you can expect it to charge fully within two hours.

Hardware

Design

Apex 2

Stainless steel on the cover and PVD-coated titanium alloy on the bezel make the watch’s exterior scratch-resistant.

Along with Sapphire glass on the displays, this construction makes the Apex watches exceptionally durable and water- and dust-resistant.

These watches feature three buttons on one side of the face; the middle doubles up as a rotating crown. This also means that you can wear the watch on either wrist with the buttons on the inside, preventing accidental presses.

Forerunner 255

This watch is fairly tough, featuring a fiber-reinforced polymer bezel. On the display, you’ll find Corning Gorilla Glass 3, which is damage-resistant and adds a lot of durability to this watch. It’s also water-resistant and dust-resistant.

There’s a sturdy silicone band that’s interchangeable. The Forerunner 255 features five buttons, three on one side and two on the other.

Sensors

Apex 2

The Apex 2 has an optical heart rate monitor that can track HR underwater. And also has a heart rate wear detector to improve accuracy. There’s also a pulse oximeter and electrocardiogram sensor—ECG—which is not suitable for medical use but is an interesting metric.

You’ll also find a barometric altimeter, a gyroscope, an accelerometer, a thermometer, and a compass. Its redesigned GPS antenna is also compatible with all 5 major satellite systems, and the Pro includes dual-frequency GNSS support.

In terms of sensors it supports, you can link up heart rate sensors, running power pods, and cycling power and cadence sensors.

However, while the Apex 2 watches support Bluetooth Smart sensors, there’s no ANT+ support. Garmin uses ANT+ so if you have any old Garmin sensors lying around, they aren’t compatible with the Apex.

Forerunner 255

You’ll find Garmin’s Elevate V4 sensor on the Forerunner 255, featuring two sets of LED lights—green for heart rate and red for pulse oximeter.

Garmin’s sensor also measures breathing rate, blood oxygen levels, and stress, which contributes to the Body Battery function.

The barometric altimeter is a new feature on the 255 for more accurate elevation tracking. It also has a compass, gyroscope, accelerometer, and thermometer.

This watch supports GPS, Glonass, and Galileo satellite systems, as well as multi-frequency positioning—the most affordable watch to offer it. Ultimately, this means the watch will be highly accurate while running outside.

Features

Maps and Navigation

Apex 2

The Apex 2 and Pro come with free maps. They’re preloaded on the Pro, but need to be downloaded on the 2 using a computer.

While these watches have no turn-by-turn navigation, they have features like Checkpoint, Back-to-Start navigation, Deviation Alert, and touchscreen-enabled map control.

You can upload your own maps to the watch in GPX file format or send courses from Strava or Komoot to the watch through the COROS app. You can hold up to 10 courses on the watch simultaneously. Unfortunately, the app has no way to build your own courses.

Forerunner 255

There’s no way to load maps onto the Forerunner 255, which may be disappointing for some.

Despite this, you can find both breadcrumb navigation and turn-by-turn directions on this watch, which is pleasing. Sync up with routes in Komoot or Strava, or you can make your own in Garmin Connect.

Activities

Apex 2

The Apex 2 series features over 30 sports profiles built into the watch. It’s technically built for runners, so the running features are excellent. But it also includes multiple other profiles geared toward outdoor activities. Here’s a quick list of our favorites:

  • Run
  • Indoor run
  • Track run
  • Trail run
  • Hike
  • Mountain climb
  • Bike
  • Indoor bike
  • Open water
  • Pool swim
  • Rowing
  • Ski
  • Snowboard
  • XC Ski
  • Gym cardio
  • Triathlon

Forerunner 255

The Forerunner 255 also tracks many different types of activities, making it suitable for a lot of different users. Our favorites include:

  • Run
  • Track Run
  • Treadmill
  • Bike
  • Bike Indoor
  • Pool Swim
  • Open Water Swim
  • Triathlon
  • Ultra Run
  • Trail Run
  • Hike
  • Ski
  • Snowboard
  • XC Classic Ski
  • Row
  • Strength
  • Cardio
  • HIIT
  • Yoga
  • Pilates
  • Stair Stepper

This watch will also offer Daily Suggested Workouts, based on your regular workouts and your changing fitness levels.

Training Aids

Apex 2

The COROS Apex 2 is ideal for runners thanks to a range of training metrics. You can also use COROS Evolab, their training platform, free for all COROS users.

You can track a lot of statistics on this platform, as well as put together your own comprehensive training program. There are also pre-programmed training plans you can select, and as a bonus, you can follow Eliud Kipchoge’s training on the program!

One of the best things about COROS is the ability to measure running power from the wrist without needing an external power meter. This is uncommon on most running watches but extremely helpful.

Evolabn’s post-workout tools are excellent and provide insight into your recovery, helping you make better choices regarding tomorrow’s workout.

You’ll be able to see your VO2 max estimates, threshold zones, training load and fatigue readouts, effort pace, and a race predictor. You can also get activity alerts for cadence, pace, power, heart rate, and more.

Multiple third-party apps, including Strava, Stryd, Komoot, and Apple Health, are also supported.

Forerunner 255

The Forerunner 255 includes a range of training aids specifically for runners. These include heart rate zone training, recovery time recommendations, and improved interval training features.

You’ll get access to downloadable training programs and advanced workouts, as well as a handy Race Widget, which counts down the days to your upcoming race and makes suggestions for your workouts leading up to it.

The Race Prediction widget is also a useful feature, indicating what times you can expect in various distances based on your current fitness level and workout stats.

Then there are things like Training Load, Training Status, Training Effect, VO2 Max, virtual partner, course guidance, and a host of other features.

Garmin’s new heart rate monitor tracks heart rate variability, an essential metric for recovery. This helps the watch to provide suggested workouts that can accelerate your training and help you reach your goals faster.

Health Monitoring

Apex 2

COROS’ Apex 2 watches have fairly accurate sleep tracking, in terms of what time the wearer falls asleep and wakes up. It’s not clear how accurate the sleep phases are, but they seem to be quite on par with others.

While there is an ECG sensor on this watch, it’s simply a guideline for your heart rate variability status, which is important in recovery. This isn’t a medical device, but it can give insight into how exercise affects those with heart conditions.

It also tracks how many steps you take during the day, floors climbed, and active minutes throughout the day.

Forerunner 255

The Garmin Forerunner 255 offers more health-related metrics than the COROS does. Its Body Battery feature gives you an overall energy reading based on your exercise and sleep quality.

Something else we like is Intensity Minutes. When you’re running or doing other activities, you might not pay much attention to it, but the feature helps you to track your daily activity and make sure you get your CDC-recommended 15 minutes a week.

Sleep score gives you some excellent insights into your sleep quality, and a handy Morning Report gives you an overview of your sleep, the expected weather for the day, and a suggested workout based on your previous day’s exercise and your sleep.

Other health tracking features include stress tracking, a step counter, 24/7 heart rate tracking, and blood oxygen measurements. Ladies can also track their menstrual cycle and pregnancy.

Other Features

Apex 2

The regular Apex 2 has 8 GB of storage, while the Apex 2 Pro has 32 GB. One thing we quite like about this watch is that it’s compatible with GoPro and Insta360 cameras, so adventurers can connect and control their cameras from afar.

There’s also a “Find My Phone” and “Find My Watch” feature, so you can find the lost item easily if you lose one but have the other.

You’ll get phone notifications on your wrist, although you won’t be able to answer calls or messages. Although there’s no music streaming application on the COROS, you can load MP3 files onto the watch to listen to with Bluetooth headphones.

Forerunner 255

Both Forerunner 255 and the 255S have 4 GB of storage, quite a lot less than the COROS. You can download about 500 songs onto the watch, from Spotify or Deezer.

Like the Apex, you can get phone notifications on your wrist, which is handy, although you will need your phone to reply to messages and answer calls. This watch also has a “Find My Phone” feature.

One of the features the Forerunner has that’s ahead of the COROS is Garmin Pay. This is convenient and safe.

Regarding safety, Garmin is ahead of things with its LiveTrack, Incident Detection, Incident Alert, and Assistance features.

Summary

Both the COROS Apex 2 and the Garmin Forerunner 255 are amazing watches. These two are some of the best new releases to come out recently, and it’s a tough decision to choose between them!

We feel that the COROS Apex 2 hasn’t had much of an upgrade from the original Apex. The Garmin Forerunner 255 has had a significant update and now features almost everything you could want in a well-priced watch.

We recommend the COROS Apex 2 for running and doing other outdoor activities on the side. The Apex 2 is the way to go if you value battery life. And Evolab is an excellent feature that runners will love—if it’s good enough for Eliud, you know it’s a good platform!

On the other hand, Garmin lovers will adore the new Forerunner 255. Packed with most of the features of the 245 at a price point on par with the COROS, it’s a no-brainer for those who want a full-featured Garmin that lasts a decent amount of time before needing to be charged.

If you’ve been a dedicated COROS or Garmin user, these two watches may make you question your loyalty. COROS Apex 2 vs. Garmin Forerunner 255 is a harder choice than we initially thought, but both are great watches.

Ben Drew

Ben Drew

Ben is an avid road and trail runner, and has completed multiple marathons and ultras. A former running store owner, he now shares his knowledge and experience writing these articles.

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