As a long time Garmin user going back to the non rechargeable 101 brick that came out in 2003 and then the 305 a few years later it is heard to stray away from something that has always worked and worked well for the most part.
2012 the 920XT which was a big improvement over previous models. For the last few years I have been using my Applewatch, but I’ll admit I do miss the always on and functionality of a true sports/athletic watch. Honestly the touchscreen is a bit annoying while running, although I do like having music sometimes as I use a good amount of the Apple ecosystem including Apple Music.
With so many great sport smartwatches nowadays which one to invest your dollars towards is a tough decision. Which watch? Another Garmin or something new. About 4 months ago I tested several watches from Garmin including a Fenix and several Forerunners. The Fenix was awesome, yet on the heavy side and the Forerunners stopped working after a few days. In the meantime another brand quietly has been picking popularity. Mmmm, who? What? I’ll get to that soon.
Has Garmin been surpassed by the competition? There are so many options nowadays like Sunnto, Polar and even Casio. I am sure there is more than just those well known options. In fact, I know there is and it is Coros. Who? Coros!!! Haven't heard of them? You will. I mean you are, right now.
So what is all the big buzz? I believe it is battery life and value. Coros is very strong in this department, but that not to say the other guys won’t catch up. With battery life up to 150 hours and even 60 hours in full GPS mode. Those are seriously good specs. So they must be expensive and they are, but not compared to Garmin. While Coros goes up to $700 at the time of this article, Garmin current Fenix line starts at $600. Unless you find an older Fenix like the 5, 5 Plus or even the 3 HR Sapphire Edition, which are still awesome Garmin watches on sale and even then they are usually still more than most Coros watches. See Coros is still on their first run of watches so they really can’t have anything on sale nor do they need to at this point. Most Coros are very well priced. Have they changed the game with price and simply amazing battery life? Let’s find out.
Coros start at $200 for the 25 hour GPS Pace or $350 for the very popular Apex with 35 hours of GPS. These don’t compete with Garmin’s Forerunner 35 or newer 45 with their 13 hour GPS battery life at $200. Coros’s $200 Pace is really competing with the Garmin 245 series which is at $300 with it’s 24 hours in GPS. That’s make the Coros $100 less for the category. And the Coros Apex which closer in price of $350 has way more battery life at 35 hours GPS than any of the Garmins anywhere that price. The closest Garmin in battery life is the 945 Forerunner which is $599 and sometimes on sale for $499. That is a lot more than the Coros at Apex $350.
So you can see why Coros is getting a lot of attention. The mobile app that works with the watches is also getting very good feedback. Being able to customize the watch faces and functionality on the phone app instead of on the watch is really nice. What about the other guys like Sunnto and Polar? Will while they are really good they are behind. I would say the Polar Vantage M and Suunto 9 are both really worth looking into. Both have great battery life and are lightweight. I would say the weakest point for them is their mobile app’s. Although I think Polar’s is the better of the two.
Back to Garmin. What about the Garmin Fenix line of watches? They have good battery life, don’t they? The new Fenix 6X’s Solar Edition does with their new Sony chips which drain battery much slower. We’re looking at 60 hours GPS and 120 hours in battery max mode which a substantial improvement from the Fenix 5X Plus’s 32 hours GPS and max battery of 70 hours. That’s almost double. And with a $1000 price tag it oughta be. Problems is the Coro’s are a lot less expensive and much lighter weight when compared and the phone app has some advantages as well like customizing the watch face from the app instead of menus on the watch.
For me it came down these options. Sunnto 9 with its amazing battery life, but the mobile app integration was sub par. Polar Vantage M with it’s amazing heart rate monitor and lightweight feel. Coro’s Apex with its amazing battery life, mobile app integration and price. Recently Polar and Suunto both had a great sale making them very attraction. Coros on the other hand had a two watch deal in which you get 20% off the second and lower priced watch. Personally I thought that was a bit lukewarm for me when compared to other holiday offerings. They possibly would have sold me if they had done 15% off a single watch. I believe they should have done that and by what I read from other customers they seem to agree with me on that. Unfortunately when a watch is $300+ I and most people really don’t need two watches. I get it as their watches are very well priced to begin with, but heck it’s the holiday time. Get it, TIME.
So what did I end up going with? By now I assume you can guess it. Yep another Garmin. I just could not pass on the Garmin holiday deal on the older Garmin 5X for 50% off from $599 down to $299. Still not cheap, but I kept my last Garmin 5 years. Despite being a tad bigger than I would have liked and the battery life being only 20 hours in GPS and 35 hours in Ultratrac mode I wanted a watch mostly for my combo hiking and a little running mix. I can’t imagine doing anything longer than 24 hours. I think 12 hours is more my vibe. I also like the addition of full color maps and the more rugged design. The Fenix 5X is certainly sharp enough looking to wear around and even a dinner party. Not to mention the fact that the mobile app is solid and I only need one app for both by watches. I have my Forerunner 35 for short runs and my Fenix 5X for my long hikes. Lastly, I like that I was able to purchase the Garmin Fenix 5X at Best Buy. I know, I know it is a big retailer. But, hear me out. They offer a very important “add on” to the watch. They offer Geek Squad protection and Total Tech Support which basically covers anything and everything that could go wrong with any of my devices including both my Garmin watches. This means if the watch stops working, the screen blanks out, the battery dies and even if I slip while hiking and crack the screen. It’s all covered and I get a new watch and yes this has happened to me. I hit my Applewatch while hiking once and cracked the screen. I had passed my Applecare warranty. Not a good day.
Okay, one more thing. I feel like Columbo “for those who know”. Which watch do I recommend for you? I can’t say exactly, but I can say for sure check out the Coros watches as they seem to have really nailed the whole package as a lightweight watch with incredible battery life, great mobile app and very competitive prices. Not to mention their customer service has been top notch. Everyone I know has loved their Coros watch. With watches that start at $200 you can’t go wrong. Now if I can just get Best Buy to carry them with those warranties. Thanks for reading and as always “Run Well, Live Well” For real this time, cheers!