Coros PACE 2 review: A lightweight, long-lasting smartwatch
If you're looking for a wearable to track your workouts, runs, sleep and plenty more besides, then there's no shortage of fitness trackers and smartwatches to pick from – and after a couple of weeks of testing we can tell you that the Coros PACE 2 has a few features that might make you choose it over its competitors.
- Lightweight, basic design
- Lots of battery life
- Impressive tracking options
First of all, this is a very lightweight device, tipping the scales at just 29 grams (1.02 oz) in its lightest form, with the nylon strap that our review unit came with – so there's no sense of it being a burden on your wrist. You can feel it, of course, but after a while you barely notice it. The stretchable, nylon strap helps here, attached with a simple Velcro fastening, though a silicone strap option is also available.
This lightness and the plastic finish means that the PACE 2 can come across as a little cheap or insubstantial, but we've got no problems with its aesthetics. The affordability of this watch is actually the second reason to buy it: it's yours for US$199.99, some way below the Apple Watch 6 (starting at $399) and the Fitbit Sense (starting at $299.95).
The third factor to consider when weighing this up against its competitors is the battery life – you can get more than a day of use even if you're using the GPS non-stop, and if you're using the device more sporadically then you can get almost three weeks between charges. With intermittent use, we saw drops of just a few percentage points per day in terms of the battery charge, which matches up with that longer estimate.
So it's lightweight, it's inexpensive, and it's long-lasting – what else does the Coros PACE 2 bring with it? The LCD screen measures 1.2 inches in diameter, with a 240 x 240-pixel resolution. It's not brilliantly bright, but it's good enough to read in daylight when you need to, and there's a decent selection of 41 watch faces to choose between (we would like the ability to customize them and their widgets a bit more, please Coros).
This smartwatch will track a whole host of metrics. Steps of course, but also heart rate, training intensity, fatigue, elevation, cadence, strength training, running and cycling power, sleep, training load, recovery time, and plenty more. There are more than 200 preloaded exercises available to pick from on the device, and on the whole the software is simple to navigate – the two physical buttons on the watch help here, and we especially like the way you rotate one of the buttons to unlock the device and the screen.
Every smartwatch and fitness tracker is using estimations to some extent when they record statistics, but as far as we could tell from our runs, snoozes and exercise, the PACE 2 is as good as any other wearable when it comes to accuracy. It may not be 100 percent accurate all the time, but it's close enough for the majority of users.
That's backed up by the app, offering a comprehensive look at your progress over time, as well as some interesting insights like the muscle heatmap – input the exercises that you're doing, and the Coros app tells you exactly which muscle groups are getting worked. It's another nod to more advanced athletes, which the PACE 2 certainly caters for. There's also ANT+ connection support for hooking up accessories (like a chest strap for monitoring your heart rate more precisely).
GPS tracking seems precise, you get a detailed breakdown of what you've been up to on both the watch and the smartphone app, and we can vouch for the intuitiveness of the interface on both device and app: you'll rarely find yourself wondering how to set something or how to get something recorded.
Runners are going to be particularly interested in what the PACE 2 has to offer, and in this respect the watch goes up against the likes of the Garmin Forerunner series. You can track running performance, VO2 max (oxygen consumption) levels, resting heart rate, threshold heart rate, seven-day total load and plenty of other metrics that are going to be of interest to anyone who runs regularly and has races to train for.
Another key spec you'll want to know about is the 50-meter (164-ft) water resistance, so you can take this in the pool with you too. It's also worth noting that smartwatch notifications are supported, though you don't get much more than an alert – you can't make calls from your wrist or anything like that with this watch, but you will see when a text message comes in.
As for what the Coros PACE 2 doesn't have, you won't find step-by-step navigational modes or the types of advanced outdoor tracking that watches like the Garmin range offer, while the Android and iOS phone integration isn't as tight as something like the Apple Watch and an iPhone have. Those Garmin and Apple wearables are more expensive though, so it's all a matter of what exactly you want from your smartwatch.
Besides everything else, the Coros PACE 2 offers a substantial upgrade over its predecessor, the first PACE. Coros is keen to emphasize that this device has a 1.5x more powerful processor, 5x the RAM and 4x the internal storage of the original – though the company isn't quite as forthcoming in saying what these specs actually are (and it's not the first gadget maker to use that trick).
While we weren't able to thoroughly test every aspect of the Coros PACE 2 in our time with it, we can say that it impressed us: it looks good and feels good on the wrist, it offers a great selection of tracking options, and the battery life beats most of its rivals. It's by no means the perfect smartwatch or a smartwatch that can do everything, but at the price it's being sold at, it's excellent value for money.
Dark navy and white are your main color choices (you can see our white review model in some of the pictures attached to this article), and you can currently get the watch in three "seasonal" colors too: red, gold and green. If you're after an affordable but comprehensive smartwatch, this is well worth a look – particularly for serious runners.
Product page: Coros PACE 2