While Garmin has long been the leader in GPS watches, a new player has emerged recently.
COROS – with their impressive batteries and value prices – has quickly emerged as a strong competitor against Garmin’s line of GPS watches.
We’re going to be taking a look at two of these brands’ most popular running watches: the COROS Apex and the Garmin Forerunner 245.
We’ll cover their similarities, differences, and pros/cons to help you figure out which watch will best suit your needs.
Before we get into too much detail, we’ll cover the biggest similarities and differences between these two watches.
There are a number of common features the COROS Apex and Garmin Forerunner 245 share. But there some notable differences as well.
The COROS Apex comes in two sizes: the Apex 46 mm, and the Apex 42 mm. The Forerunner 245 has a one-size-fits-most 42 mm case.
At a quick glance, you can see that both the Apex and Forerunner 245 have the following basic features:
- Preloaded activities to track many types of workouts
- Wrist-based heart rate monitor
- Fitness tracking including steps and sleep
- Smart notifications – to see phone alerts on the watch
But the biggest difference between the two is the battery.
One of the reasons COROS has gained a big following is its impressive battery life. While battery life varies based on settings and usage, the larger Apex gets up to 36 hours in GPS mode; the smaller version gets up to 25 hours.
This compares to 24 hours on the Forerunner 245. That’s still an awesome battery, but not nearly as good as the Apex.
Both the COROS Apex and Garmin Forerunner have quick release bands in several color options.
Both the COROS Apex and Garmin Forerunner have data-rich companion apps that help to provide a wealth of insights.
Digging Down into Data
However, if you have a COROS, training stats and your VO2 max can only be accessible in the app. They don’t have a website component like Garmin has with Garmin Connect.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 will display your VO2 max as a description, number, or position on a color gauge on the screen. You can also access additional details about your VO2 max in the Garmin Connect app.
What is particularly strange with the COROS Apex is that you’re unable to adjust the brightness of the backlight. While the design of the backlight helps to save battery life, it can make it difficult to see the watch face at times, whether indoors or outdoors.
The Forerunner 245 will let you turn sensors and Bluetooth off if you need to save battery power.
The Apex doesn’t give you an option to turn off Bluetooth, any sensors, or the screen to save battery life. You can, however, turn off the GPS function – probably the single biggest battery drain, no matter what your device.
Size and Display
The COROS Apex weighs 49 grams, with a screen size of 27.9 millimeters. It has a 64-color Memory LCD display with a resolution of 218 x 218. The case is 42.00 x 42.00 x 11.75 millimeters. Built for durability, it has a stainless steel bezel with a sapphire glass face.
When we look at the Garmin Forerunner 245, it has a screen resolution of 240 x 240 pixels with a round color display of 30.4 millimeters—1.2 inches— and the case is 42.3 x 42.3 x 12.2 millimeters. Also built to last, it has a fiber-reinforced polymer bezel with Corning Gorilla Glass 3 face.
It also has a sunlight-readable screen that uses transflective memory-in-pixel (MIP) technology.
This means that the watch hardly uses any battery power to display notifications, premade workout animations, health stats, and the clock. It also allows the screen to be brighter and clearer even in the brightest of conditions.
A stand-out feature of the COROS Apex is the extended battery life, however, this does mean that it misses out on other features.
This is the battery life expectancy in the three different modes:
- UltraMax GPS mode: 80 hours for the 42 mm and 100 hours for the 46 mm
- Full GPS Mode: 25 Hours for the 42 mm and 35 hours for the 46 mm
- Every day regular use: 24 days for the 42 mm and 30 days for the 46 mm
The Garmin Forerunner 245 has more features, like listening to music, that can drain your battery power much more quickly. The battery life expectancy for the Forerunner 245 is:
- Smartwatch mode: Up to 7 days
- GPS mode: Up to 24 hours
- GPS mode with music: up to 6 hours
The COROS Apex has an optical heart rate monitor to keep track of your heart rate and heart rate range. It will keep track of your heart rate when you’re training as well as what your resting heart rate is.
It also tracks your overall workout effort, and will tell you when it’s time to rest. It will also tell you what your recovery window is before your next hard workout, based on training history and effort level.
Using an algorithm, the COROS Apex can estimate your VO2 max and lactate threshold, and it will look at your daily training metrics to calculate your perceived effort.
Other metrics are provided by the accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and barometric altimeter.
For navigation, the Apex uses GPS, BDS, and GLONASS. At the moment, the Apex has very basic navigation features, like the newly updated navigation with breadcrumb trail in real-time or Back to Start Navigation.
You’ll find that the GPS tracking is accurate and that it’s very fast when it comes to GPS acquisition.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 has the Garmin Elevate Wrist Heart Rate Monitor, which lets you keep track of your heart rate when you’re going about your daily activities or working out. It will also notify you should your heart rate increases or decreases at abnormal rates.
Once you’re done with your workout, the built-in recovery time advisor lets you know how much rest you need before your next hard workout.
However, it won’t just use the data from your workout. It will also include your activity outside of your workouts, your level of daily stress, and the amount of sleep that you’ve had.
When using the Garmin Running Pod, runners can also track their cadence, stride length, balance, and ground contact time.
The Forerunner 245 has an all-day stress tracker, and it will notify you when your stress levels are high. It will encourage you to step away from what you are doing and take a moment to breathe and bring your stress levels down. You can make use of the Relaxation Breathing Timer that’s built-in.
The Forerunner 245 doesn’t have a barometric altimeter, so you won’t to be able to keep track of elevations. But it does have an accelerometer and compass.
When it comes to navigation, Garmin is way ahead of the COROS Apex.
The Forerunner 245 uses GPS, GLONASS, and Galileo, which allows you to use point-to-point navigation, bread crumb trail in real-time, back to the start navigation, trackback, distance to distance, or navigation between specific GPS coordinates.
You also have the option of downloading maps through Garmin Connect IQ, as well as saving locations that you can navigate to again in the future.
Both the COROS Apex and the Garmin Forerunner 245 track running, indoor running, track running, trail running, cycling, strength training, and swimming.
Both watches also allow you to customize a workout, but there is also a difference in the activities that both watches track.
The COROS Apex tracks several winter sports like snowboarding and cross-country skiing, as well as triathlon, open water swimming, mountain climbing, and hiking.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 also tracks virtual runs, intervals, indoor rowing, yoga, elliptical training, and stair climbing.
When it comes to training aids, you’ll find both watches will let you download workouts, create your own workouts, train with a coach or professional athlete, or even download pre-picked workouts from coaches.
Both watches track your training load, training effect, VO2 max, and lactate threshold. Both have advanced analysis when it comes to measuring your performance and showing you where you can increase your performance, as well as when you need to rest.
Both watches can track your sleep and provide data on the quality of your sleep, as well as break it down into the different cycles as well as how long you were awake for. They’ll also monitor your resting heart rate.
The Garmin Forerunner 245 also has a wrist-based pulse ox sensor. This keeps track of the blood oxygen saturation, which will allow you to see how much oxygen your body is absorbing during activities as well as when you sleep.
The Body Battery Energy Monitor will track your energy levels and this will help you identify the best times for activity and when to rest.
Women can track their health using the Garmin Connect app. Here you can log pregnancy or menstrual symptoms, track your cycle or pregnancy, as well as receive tips and advice on nutrition and exercise.
Both watches can be paired via ANT+ or Bluetooth to bike power meters, speed sensors, cadence sensors, and heart rate monitors. Both are also able to sync to third-party apps like TrainingPeaks, Strava, and Final Surge.
It’s important to note that with the 245, it can take up to 7 days for your previous workout history to be visible with TrainingPeaks.
The Apex estimates running power without using a separate gadget. Most watches require you to wear a foot or waist pod.
The Forerunner 245 lets you leave your wallet at home, as you can make payments using Garmin Pay.
You can also stream music on those long runs using either Spotify, Deezer, or your Amazon Prime account. Or you can download up to 500 songs to the watch itself.
The Forerunner has an added safety benefit where it lets you share your live location with loved ones while you’re running.
It will detect if you’ve had any incidents like a fall, and will ask if it needs to call for assistance. If you don’t answer, the Garmin will send out a notification for assistance with your location.
Both the Forerunner 245 and Apex are latest-technology workhorse watches. They are both loaded with features, perform great, and provide a wealth of training data and analysis. Choosing between the two is a tough decision for anyone to make.
The 245 lives up to the Garmin quality we’ve come to love, and it comes with the latest features like the Pulse OX, Body Battery Energy Battery, music, Garmin Pay, and live tracking.
That being said, the COROS Apex has phenomenal battery life and there are regular updates that are being released that allow for more features.
If push comes to shove, at the end of the day, we’d recommend the COROS if you value battery life. It’s also ideal if you incorporate a lot of cross-training, especially swimming and skiing – or if you do triathlons, marathons, or multi-day backcountry adventures.
Garmin has more overall features, including Garmin Pay and music storage. Navigation is better, and it has more fitness-specific features.
Both are great watches, and you won’t go wrong with either.