As I’ve said for many years, COROS as a company is most deadly when it’s competing on price. And back three iterations ago, their first breakout product that really introduced the company to the world was the original COROS Pace (their actual original product, the COROS Linx helmet only saw niche success). At the time, the original COROS Pace 1 undercut all of their competitors on price, while delivering features that watches double their price didn’t.
Fast forward now to the Pace 3, and that model is largely repeated. Comparing the price to the original COROS Pace (1) from nearly 6 years ago, it only sees a relatively minor price increase of $29, from $199 to $229 – effectively nothing in a world of ever-increasing watch and product prices (albeit, with a caveat I’ll cover later). But with that, the company has again packed in features not found on many watches far more expensive than it. And further, based on my testing, the company has managed to increase accuracy to beat their own higher-end products.
Oh – and just to be clear. I bought this unit myself on launch day. Thus, unlike other media loaners, it won’t be going back to COROS, because…yeah, I already bought it. As always, if you found this review useful, you can use the links at the bottom, or consider becoming a DCR Supporter, which makes the site ad-free, while also getting access to a mostly weekly video series behind the scenes of the DCR Cave. And of course, it makes you awesome.
The COROS Pace 3 has a number of new features compared to the Pace 2 (with updated firmware), albeit most of the software features have been launched on other COROS higher-end watches, as would be expected. Still, again, for this price point, it’s a solid slate. Here’s what’s changed compared to the Pace 2:
– Added multiband/dual-frequency GPS/GNSS
– Added new optical heart rate sensor
– Added blood oxygen (SpO2) sensor
– Added touchscreen (same 1.2” MIP display size as before)
– Added WiFi
– Added MP3 music playback (with 4GB of storage)
– Added HRV tracking (in most recent beta firmware)
– Removed ANT+ accessory/sensor support (only Bluetooth sensors now)
– Increased battery life, up to 38hrs of GPS & 24 days smartwatch mode (was 30hrs)
– Band/strap width is increased from 20mm to 22mm
– Weight is very slightly increased by 1g (with Nylon band to 30g) or 2g (with Silicon to 38g)
From a battery standpoint, the Pace 3 battery claims are:
– Standard GPS mode: 38hrs
– All Systems (default): 25hrs
– Dual-frequency: 15hrs
– Smartwatch (not GPS): 24 days (18 days with sleep tracking)
– Charging time: 1.5 hours
In terms of things like sport modes, those are all the same, assuming current/updated firmware updates on the Pace 2. As is the same plastic case.
This section is all about day-to-day usage, including bits around usability and activity tracking (e.g., steps/sleep/etc). In the next section, I’ll cover the more detailed specifics around sports features.
To begin – the watch has two buttons, inclusive of the Digital Crown. In addition, you can use the touchscreen, though by default that’s only enabled in navigation and activity pages (but, you can turn it on for everything if you want). In general, the Digital Crown acts as a confirmation/enter button (plus scrolling through menus), and the lower right button acts as an escape/back button.
As I’ve long said about COROS watches, I’ve never really been in love with the digital crown here. Just like I don’t particularly think it’s great on Apple or other companies’ watches either – at least not for sports usage. It just doesn’t bring anything to the table except for being fiddly. The original Pace 1 had a more standard button layout without the Digital Crown, and it was easier to use. That went away with the Pace 2. Again, this isn’t a huge deal – and really one of my few annoyances. Obviously, plenty of people use digital crowns on watches just fine, but I’d also argue that’s why we’re seeing many companies keep buttons (or even add buttons) back to sports watches: They’re just better to use in sports.
In any event, on the display side, the COROS Pace 3 uses a so-called MIP display (Memory In Pixel), which means it’s not as fancy-brilliant as you’d see on most higher-end watches these days, but instead, it burns very little battery life. And it’s true – COROS has long done crazy-magic when it comes to standby (smartwatch) battery life of their products. And for many years that was also true on the GPS times, though these days most of their competitors have caught up.
COROS claims 24 days of non-GPS usage, and I’d say my testing certainly seems to support that. Of course, the relatively simple answer for why COROS manages to get such good battery life is they don’t have as many background metrics as their competitors. They record heart rate 24×7 at a reduced rate, but still a perfectly functional rate (every few minutes, versus most companies at every second). But beyond steps/sleep, there isn’t the flotilla of other 24×7 metrics about your body being stored, thus saving them plenty of battery life.
Now, starting with the watch face, COROS has a pretty solid-sized collection of them you can choose from the COROS smartphone app, as well as create your own with your photos. Speaking of which, you will need a smartphone here – either iOS or Android, in order to setup/configure/use the watch. No big surprise in 2023, but I figured I’d mention that, as they don’t have any sort of desktop app to set it up (though they do for viewing workouts on their website).
Anyways, watch-face-wise, plenty to choose from. You’ll see whichever metrics you’ve selected on the screen. In my case, I stuck with the default. I did notice that the live heart rate display on the watch face would frequently not show my heart rate at all (or not update much). Generally speaking, I don’t believe I was dead (obviously below, it’s not on my wrist). But again, this is part of battery savings. And for most people – that’s probably perfectly fine.
Next, using the digital crown, you’ll scroll down to the widgets. These widgets contain bits of information about your day, be it steps, sleep, calories, training status, weather conditions, barometric pressure, or smartphone notifications. You can customize these in the COROS app.
You can tap into these widgets to get additional information, usually one or two pages at full screen. For example, the steps one will show you steps from the last 7 days, and the heart rate will show your heart rate over the course of the day, and the exercise one will show the workout totals each day.
Most of these widgets, when opened, don’t quite show as much additional detail as most of COROS’s competitors, but usually the key stat you’re interested in is there. Again, these are where you’ll see those very minor polish/detail things that differentiate COROS from some higher-end options.
The same is true of sleep tracking. You’ll see your sleep tracked on the main widget glance, and then once you open it up, you’ll see the little pie chart page with sleep stages/phases for last night. Taping once again will show you the last 7-nights’ worth of sleep.
In terms of sleep accuracy, it largely gets it right. If I look at the last 7 nights of sleep for example, compared to various other devices I’ve worn concurrently (Whoop 4.0, Oura V3, Suunto Race, Garmin Epix Pro), it’s almost always been within a couple of minutes for the fall-asleep & wake-up times.
There was one morning this past weekend however where I woke up briefly around 7:45AM, and then went back to sleep for a few hours – and it didn’t detect me falling back asleep. Whereas the other units did.
As for sleep phases/stages, as I’ve said many times – I don’t compare accuracy/etc of those pieces. The reason being the technology to do so simply isn’t all that accurate (being at best in the mid-80% range). Thus instead, I just focus on the main thing, which is total sleep time and the exact times I fall-asleep and wake-up.
In addition, this past weekend, COROS announced new HRV tracking for its units (Heart Rate Variability). This will be launched in public beta later this week, and then transition to production at some point in the future. COROS will first baseline 5-nights of HRV data, before showing whether future HRV values are within ‘norms’. Additionally, even before that time period they’ll show the ‘last nights’ HRV values, such as below:
In my first few nights with this (in beta), the numbers are within 1-3ms of Whoop/Garmin/Oura. However, I would argue that COROS only using a 5-night baselining period is kinda…naive. Most other companies require significantly longer baselining periods for good reason – it ensures you have a proper baseline. For comparison, Fitbit is 10 nights, Suunto is 14 nights, Garmin is 19 nights, and Whoop/Oura upwards of 30 days before full calibration. In COROS’s case, a simple baselining period over a weekend where you had a few glasses of wine (or beer) before bed will totally throw off the baseline. Still, given it’s public beta, hopefully, they’ll tweak it going forward.
Now, all of these stats are also available in the COROS app. For example, here’s the sleep page, where you can sort by day/week/month/year. You can also see your heart rate both at a range and detailed level. As is the pattern, you’re getting the basics here. COROS isn’t winning an award for extra credit in their app, but frankly, the core stats you’re looking for are listed. Note, COROS does not support naps (it won’t record/see/etc them), trust me – I did the hard work to ‘test’ that (lack of) feature.
And beyond that, you’ll see your summary stats on the app as well for each day – this includes things like steps, training time, training status, recovery, training load, and more.
Shifting topics a bit – the COROS Pace 3 will show smartphone notifications (e.g. texts). You can’t respond to these, given the limited user input on the watch, but you can dismiss them. One bummer is no emojis show up in text messages, which results in situations like this:
That said, you can configure whether or not you want notifications to show up during workouts, as well as even which notifications you want to show up at all (for example, Instagram but not Twitter):
Likewise, also part of the new public beat this past weekend is the introduction of a weather widget, using your current location. Obviously, given I live in The Netherlands, this widget has very little practical value to me. I know the answer is always going to be the same: Rainy, windy, and cold.
And to shift topics even further, for lack of anywhere else to stick it in this review, you can both store music on the Pace 3, as well as control GoPro and Insta360 action cameras. For the music storage, this is purely for MP3-type music storage, not streaming services. Thus you’ll plug it into your computer and load up a bunch of that Napster music you Shazam’d, before playing back via Bluetooth headphones. It won’t work with platforms like Spotify, Amazon Music, YouTube Music, etc…
And on the action cam control realm, you can pair it up to act as an action cam remote in a pinch. I wrote more about that back when it first launched here. I tried it with the GoPro Hero 12 Black, and it kinda sorta barely works:
Yes, I could technically pair the camera and toggle between photo/video mode, as well as even start recording. But it would often fail when I tried to stop recording. And this also takes up the GoPro Quik app pairing, which isn’t super awesome. So while the aspirations are great, the execution leaves quite a bit to be desired.
I haven’t tried it with the Insta360 cameras recently, and the COROS support article listing which cameras it works with…stopped listing which cameras it works with (the support article about GoPro cameras). In any case, let’s talk sports bits.
Sports & Navigation Usage:
Obviously, if you’re getting the COROS Pace 3, it’s undoubtedly to do something sporty with it. Or, perhaps you just really like long battery life. To access the sport modes, you’ll tap the upper right button, which opens up the list of sports:
You can customize this sport listing in the app, either adding or removing ones. Obviously, I assume you’ll be jumping at the chance to add ‘Jump Rope’ into the list of sport modes on your watch. Here’s the two pages of all the current Pace 3 sport modes:
In fact, it’s on the app you’ll also customize any data pages/fields on each sport mode. With up to 6 pages, and up to 8 data fields per page (something that Polar should seriously follow).
There’s pretty much every field you’d ever need in here, so you won’t have any problems finding the data fields you want for all the core sport modes.
Next, when it comes to sensor support (namely for cycling), COROS supports all the major Bluetooth Smart sensor types in terms of power meters, cadence sensors, speed sensors, heart rate straps, and even running footpods & Stryd running power meters (it also has native running power too, which near-identically matches Stryd’s values).
I haven’t had any issues with pairing a very wide variety of cycling power meters/trainers, as well as heart rate sensors. And I appreciate I can save multiple sensors of the same type, and that it properly enumerates their names. Small things, I know – but useful things nonetheless.
With all this done, let’s start our run. And we are gonna run, because it’s just frankly easier for me to take photos mid-run. Back on that main screen you’ll see GPS status and heart rate status. I will say that the heart rate lock often takes quite a long time, though GPS isn’t usually too bad.
Once that’s done, off you go and start suffering. Or, me suffering. You’ll see your stats as you’ve configured them. All of this works perfectly well:
And in my case, I used auto-lap for every 1KM, which you’ll see too:
Now before we finish the run, let’s quickly touch on navigation. The COROS Pace 3 supports both breadcrumb style navigation, as well as a newer public beta version of COROS’s turn-by-turn navigation. There are no maps on the Pace 3. With the breadcrumb style navigation, you’ll first sync the route into the COROS app (from partners like Strava, Komoot, or a GPX file), and put it in your library. I will say that there’s a weird delay in trying to get Strava/Komoot routes to show up in your account, often taking a few refreshes and closing the app until it finally shows the newer routes. It’s been like this a long time, and honestly I don’t really understand why.
In any event, once that’s set, you’ll click ‘Send to watch’, as you have to specifically send it there. Newly created routes on Strava/Komoot platforms unfortunately don’t show up automatically on the watch. From there, on the watch after choosing the sport mode, you’ll then choose to navigate, and select the route:
There are few options here if you want to do the route backwards/forward, or want to change the ‘map’ orientation.
Once that’s all set, you can start navigating. In the non-turn-by-turn mode, it won’t actually tell you to do anything. You’ll need to follow the little map page you see below, hoping you don’t miss a turn:
If you miss a turn, about 50-meters later, it’ll chirp at you that you’ve ‘Deviated’ from the course. It’s then on you to get yourself back. If you keep ignoring it, it mostly gives up on you, and occasionally will chirp a course deviation reminder every once in a while (as I did when I had to deviate from the route for a few hours due to overgrowth). In addition though, you’ll also see an elevation profile of the route, and your progress on it:
Now, with turn-by-turn enabled in the public beta (and assuming you toggle all the right things on the app), you’ll get a turn notification. This notification happens twice. Once about 200m or so out (which for the record, is a silly-long time), and then again just before the turn:
As you can see above, there isn’t any sort of distance to turn or other detail – stuff most other companies have. COROS has had this in beta since back in July (on various watches), and I’d hoped to see more progress here (especially when considering their higher end watches). Additionally, I found it often didn’t tell me about turns (especially “T” junctions). Of course, this is mostly on the app-side where their turn-by-turn creation logic simply doesn’t do a good job. Again, this is beta, so I’m not going to be too harsh here – I’ve gotta suspect (hope), COROS knows this isn’t ready yet.
The long and the short of it is that if you’re looking to do a lot of navigating, I’d probably look at other options. But if you only use it very sparingly, mostly as a backstop for a route you mostly already know, it’s probably fine.
Now assuming you didn’t get lost forever, then you’ll eventually finish your workout and get a large slate of summary pages. Here’s a quick gallery of those from a workout:
Likewise, you can see a boatload more data on the COROS app from that particular workout. Thus, I give you another gallery.
And of course, like any other sports watch you can sync your data to various platforms like Strava, Training Peaks, etc… all of which happens within a couple seconds of me ending the workout.
With the workout behind us, you’ll see training load as well as training status. The training load shown here, as well as on the app, is kinda quirky though. It shows the training load that week, from Monday. Meaning, you could have done marathon Sunday, and it wouldn’t matter/count in your current training load. While showing training *time* makes sense to reset each week, it doesn’t for training load, because that’s showing how much load you currently have. That’s why virtually every company instead shows 7-day trailing training load. Showing 0 load each Monday morning carries 0 value. As in, it’s zero-percent helpful. Hopefully that’s a minor tweak they can make.
In terms of the Training Load values that COROS produces for each specific workout, I found them to be considerably higher than values from numerous other companies, for the same workout at the same time with nearly identical heart rate values.
Likewise, you can also see Training Status, Recovery Time, and Running Fitness. For Training Status, it’s been a bit more peculiar, and seems to get upset somewhat easily. Same goes for recovery time, generally suggesting excessive recovery time.
And when we get to ‘Running Fitness’, which is probably just better named ‘Race Predictor’, things are pretty wonky – and this likely comes down to a wrong estimation of VO2max by COROS. If I look at the estimated values it gives me, they’re very very very wrong. In fact, it seems to be giving me estimated times just beyond the fastest times for that distance I’ve run recently with it – despite the fact that those runs were easy runs.
So for example, the estimated 5K time of 22:08? That’s just ahead of the fastest 90-day time I have on there of 22:59…set during an easy 30KM run. The last 90 days of workouts has been a blend of running intervals (800m and shorter), running hills, long runs, cycling stuff, and some ultra-long hikes. I simply haven’t gone out and done any race/tempo-run type scenarios. But in a properly working system, I shouldn’t have to. Garmin and Suunto both have me with an estimated 5K time in the 19ish minute marker range – which seems perfectly doable right now. For COROS to assume that I can only run 50 seconds faster on a 20-minute run, versus a 2hr 30min long run is frankly just silly.
Of course, this likely isn’t a surprise. It’s well known in the running community that while COROS does many things great, everything to do with their physiological metrics is…shaky. It’s clear they were trying to copy the metrics of others, but not really understanding how those metrics were implemented (sorta like doing HRV with only a 5-night HRV baseline).
And look, everyone likes to complain about training status type messages from every vendor: Garmin, Polar, Suunto, Whoop, Fitbit, etc… Like complaining about lack of porta-potties at races – it’s seemingly the national pastime of athletes. But COROS’s metrics have long lacked any foundation for the numbers, and thus, I’d largely ignore them there (they are identical on COROS’s higher-end watches too). There’s a difference between hiring good software engineers, and good sports scientists. It’s clear COROS has had many good software engineers, but I don’t get the feeling the same is true for sports scientists.
Finally, ending on a positive sports note (because on the whole, this watch is pretty solid), you can broadcast your heart rate out via Bluetooth Smart, allowing 3rd party apps like Zwift, Peloton, etc… to see your heart rate. You’ll activate that in the quick-access menu:
And then from there it’ll show up on the pairing screen of whichever app/device/bike computer you’re using. Easy peasy.
GPS & HR Accuracy:
It’s very clear that COROS spent time on antenna design with the Pace 3, resulting in easily better GPS accuracy than the COROS APEX 2, APEX 2 Pro, and Vertix 2 units.
That’s notable, because when COROS introduced mutliband/dual-frequency GPS/GNSS to the Vertix 2 two years ago, the results were ‘meh’ at best. And that was largely the case for the APEX 2 Pro as well this past spring – and still hasn’t meaningfully changed. Sure, they had great chipsets (the same as all the other companies), but the implementation by COROS simply didn’t deliver the level of multiband accuracy we see on other watches with that same chipset. Of course, this is largely because these days one of the most important factors is antenna design, and how that interacts with the bezel/materials. And as you’ll see, it’s clear they’ve spent time on the antenna design (just as Polar confirmed they did on the Vantage V3, after multiband issues on the earlier Ignite 3). In fact, I can even see some slight improvements within the Pace 3 from my test sets back in early September (like this one, which had some minor corner-smoothing issues), to now, which are very strong.
We’ll start off with something easy, just cause. This was a forest run. I ran around said forest in the trees, and the COROS Pace 3 & Epix Pro tracked perfectly. The Polar Vantage V3 struggled. Here’s that data set:
I could zoom in a bunch, but there’s no point in wasting your time or mine, everything on that set as it relates to the COROS Pace 3 is spot on. But again, you can still do so in the data set here if you’d like.
Here’s another trail run last week. Almost entirely in trails/trees, and at a high level, things look perfect:
And, not to spoil things, down in the weeds, things also look perfect:
So, let’s increase the difficulty a boatload, and do a bit of a city test. This test is done in virtually every one of my GPS watch reviews in the last few years, and is incredibly difficult to do well. I go up and down the business district streets, with buildings that are 20-30 stories tall, on either side of small streets:
For some streets, I run directly down the middle of the street (when able), and for others, if I have to be on the sidewalk, I vary which side of the street I’m on halfway down the street, so that no one side is favored. In general, a ‘great’ watch on this test will still struggle a bit. Whereas a ‘bad’ watch will look like a toddler’s drawing.
Starting at a high level, here’s how things looked for the entire (larger) route, which includes numerous underpasses/tunnels, and more.
Starting with the non-complicated parts of this course, along the river and such. Here it’s all good. No real issues any of the watches:
We do see a few somewhat minor errors/offsets with the Vantage V3 as it rounds some of these corners and goes under the massive highway/train/etc overpasses. Along with this section a bit later under another tunnel and near some buildings. But the COROS Pace 3, Suunto, and Garmin, sticks all of these perfectly:
But, we’re here for big-ass buildings, not big-ass highways. And thus, we arrive at the section that GPS devices wince at:
Here you can see the Polar Vantage V3 struggles the most of the three, offset by the largest amount. But the COROS Pace 3 and Suunto Race both actually did quite well here. The Garmin Forerunner 965 did ‘fine’ here, albeit it was in auto-select mode, so perhaps it didn’t scale up to multi-band fast enough. Maybe someday when I’m bored I’ll run this section a bunch repeatedly with two Forerunner 965s concurrently and see how they might differ precisely in the two modes. Overall, for this one section, I’d say the COROS Pace 3 actually stuck the landing the best (like the Forerunner 965, it’s actually done this test a few times over the last few months, and this is definitely the Pace 3’s best performance). The Suunto Race really only made one minor error for about 100m of roadway section, otherwise it would have won.
In any event, the rest of that particular test was mostly uneventful. A few tunnels that it skipped a beat on, but nothing major.
Now, for fun, I’ve actually run this test multiple times with the Pace 3, here’s another run on that same section, where the Pace is compared to the most recent Apple Watch Ultra 2 & Series 9, as well as the Garmin Epix Pro. No matter how you decide which unit did the best job here, the COROS Pace 3 did overall very very well.
Next, let’s look at the 58KM hike that I did. Albeit, due to the crashes in the Polar Vantage V3 it only recorded the last 8hrs worth (as it lost data from the first 4hrs). Nonetheless, there’s plenty of spicy mountain terrain in that to look at. Here it’s compared against the Polar Vantage V3, Garmin Forerunner 965, and Suunto Race. The quick overview here:
Looking at the section here as I climbed up over a ridge and through some wooded areas, virtually all of the units were identical:
Due to the trail being overgrown beyond passibility, I had to divert for a bit onto the Sa Calobra road to get up over the mountain pass. During this section, all four watches seemed to handle just fine:
Once back on the mountain trail, I didn’t see any issues – it was solid throughout all of this long traverse into the stiff headwinds:
There were actually very few moments where the four disagreed, such as this steep descent in deep woods alongside cliffs, where the COROS Pace 3 seems a bit offset from the others, but not that meaningful in the context here.
Oh, and if I look at elevation here, here’s that chart (again, remember the Polar data on this chart starts about 4hrs in). We can see it’s very very close, though, in the last hour the COROS & Polar drift a touch bit high, but the Garmin and Suunto nail it, sticking the landing back on the beach where I started at perhaps 1m above sea-level. All this despite spending 12.5hrs in the mountains with shifting temps and pressure from day to night.
The drifting/offset elevation pattern is something I’d see on virtually all of my Pace 3 activities – thus, it doesn’t appear to do initial GPS-based elevation set correctly/well. That’s an area COROS could definitely work on.
Next, here’s an outdoor cycling workout, this one up some switchbacks in Mallorca. It’s compared to the COROS Pace 3 on the other wrist, as well as the Garmin Edge 840 cycling GPS/bike computer. Here’s that data at a high level
Now, I was mostly just interested in one section in the mountains on these switchbacks. Everything else was boringly perfect by all units. And indeed, this section was solid too:
Also, for fun, here’s the elevation graph:
So, what about open-water swimming? Well, I got in one swim on the Pace 3, and it struggled a fair bit in one section, albeit, so did the Suunto Race. Other watches on other swims didn’t have any problem with this particular section (or, other swims in general).
Now, let’s look at some optical heart rate sensor accuracy bits. We’ll start off with something kinda middle of the road difficulty-wise, a trail run. Here’s how that handled:
You can see at the start, both the COROS Pace 3 (reddish), and Suunto Race (blue) struggled a little bit, namely as my heart rate spiked up a steep slope to a castle. After that, while I tried to get my heart rate under control, the Pace 3 was fine the rest of the run.
Next, we’ve got a relatively steady-state forest run. There’s only one dip there as I stopped for a moment, but otherwise, it was theoretically a very bland run. Unfortunately, the Pace 3 decided to add a bit more spice to it, with all sorts of random wrong in there:
What’s odd is that none of these places where the errors occurred were unique or special. As you can see, it was basically just steady-state meandering, and then – boom, spike!
Yet this indoor trainer ride the next day before, it did perfectly fine, matching the other sensors exactly:
And then again two days later, perfectly. Or, at least perfectly till the last 15 seconds when it apparently celebrated a bit too early and spiked the HR oddly.
Next, let’s step it up into an 18x800m interval set. Yes, 18. No, not my idea. Anyways, here’s the results of that, compared to the Garmin Venu 3 (ELEVATE V5), Whoop 4, and a chest strap:
As you can see, all the optical HR sensors did quite good. That random dropout at the very beginning on the red line is when I realized 2-3 laps in that the Venu 3 was connected to the chest strap, so I disconnected that (the other 52 laps are the optical HR sensor). The COROS Pace 3 has some odd little blips the last few intervals. Maybe it was just as exhausted with the whole idea as I was.
Next, let’s look at an outdoor ride. You can see things match fairly well here during the first 2/3rds, likely because it’s low-speed (once I start the climb), and relatively sustained/stable, making it easy:
The second half gets a bit wonky, because I’m now descending at high-speed on roads with vibrations (but with low effort, hence the lower HR values). This is where you can see chest straps struggle a bit too in cooler temps like this was, still a bit earlier in the day.
But finally, this last 30KM long-run I did on Friday, and you can see it went all wonk. Specifically, it went wonk at the very moment the first 4mi interval started (this was a long run that had 4mi/3mi/2mi/etc intervals built into it). You can see as my heart rate rose, the COROS dropped the beat. And not in a good way:
Overall, the COROS Pace 3 GPS accuracy is about as good as it gets in the market at that price point for land-based activities (swim aside), and frankly, beating everything else COROS sells at their higher price points.
Whereas their heart rate sensor is more hit or miss. On some workouts, it’s perfect – spot-on. Yet others, it just goes sideways. Sometimes briefly, and sometimes for vast periods of time (like my long run on Friday). For better or worse, when it’s wrong, it’s *really* wrong (not a believable HR value), which makes it easier to spot. Whereas when something like the Polar Vantage V3 was/is wrong, it tends to be less obvious (more believable – even though very much wrong). Hopefully, it’s something they can continue tweaking.
And on the GPS (+ antenna) side, with that clearly being better than COROS’s other units, hopefully, it’s something that they can sustain in new hardware for other new watches down the road.
(Note: All of the charts in these accuracy sections were created using the DCR Analyzer tool. It allows you to compare power meters/trainers, heart rate, cadence, speed/pace, GPS tracks, and plenty more. You can use it as well for your own gadget comparisons, more details here.)
Overall, the Pace 3 is a very solid little watch. Which, was mostly to be expected. The COROS Pace 2 was an equally impressive sports watch in terms of bang for the buck, so in many ways, all COROS had to do was modestly upgrade it and ensure it didn’t catch fire or something. COROS has clearly improved its multiband GPS accuracy over the existing Vertix 2 and APEX 2/APEX 2 Pro, while also expanding out features like HRV tracking in the recently announced firmware upgrade this past weekend. And of course, it delivers very solid battery life, as is customary for COROS watches.
At $229, it’s priced very well against competitor’s normal retail prices. Where things get dicey, is when their competitors put their watches on sale (noting that COROS almost never meaningfully discounts their watches). For example, on a normal day the COROS Pace 3 at $229 versus the Garmin Forerunner 255 at $349, is likely an easy-button COROS win for most people. But when Garmin drops the Forerunner 255 down to $249 (like it is now), then it’s only a $20 difference, and there are a whole lot of reasons one would choose that for a mere $20 more. And in the smarter-watch realm, the same goes for the occasional Apple Watch SE sales. Or even the almost never-ending Polar Pacer Pro sales. This is to point out, that while I feel like the Pace 3’s slight retail price increase from $199 to $229 is fully and completely justified, COROS has to be more aware during sale periods (like Black Friday deals right now), that the higher price puts them in a trickier spot.
Still, the majority of the year isn’t Black Friday deals, and in those times, COROS has a very strong product for the price point, from a company that’s been constantly updating its watches with new features and functions. Hopefully, that’s a trend that continues, as they showed this past week with a newly announced firmware update bringing in HRV tracking, marathon plans, and more.
With that – thanks for reading!
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