Coros Vertix 2 is a Garmin Fenix 6 Pro & Enduro Challenger – Review
With maps, music, super-large screen and first-of-a-kind GPS Accuracy Tech, the new Coros Vertix 2 offers enough to make a wannabe Garmin Fenix 6/Garmin Enduro owner think twice before getting the nod from their partner, this review looks at what’s new to the Coros Vertix 2 and discusses the feature compromises you make if you buy it over the much more expensive Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Solar.
Heads Up: I buy all the tech I use for my own endurance training and this is a media loaner from Coros and I’m not sponsored by Coros. To support this site add a free extra accessory strap to your purchase with the code THE5KRUNNER at Coros.
Let’s start with a summary review of the Coros Vertix 2 and those of you who want more details can use the Table of content to skip ahead to sections that interest you. Enjoy!
Coros Vertix 2 Verdict - An adventure/running/climbing watch that's worthy of your consideration around the $/£/Eu500-700 mark
Coros Vertix 2 Summary Review
The Coros Vertix 2 edges ahead of the Garmin Enduro and Suunto 9 Baro/9 Peak in several respects most notably with the inclusion of basic maps & music support. It’s definitely worthy of consideration for that level of watch.
However, when stacked up against the more expensive Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Sapphire, the Vertix 2 clearly wins on cost but can’t compete with the depth of features on the Fenix and the maturity of its Connect platform.
The Vertix 2 IS full of features; too many of them to list here and which range from sports profiles to physiology insights and from structured workout support to BLE power meter support. Maybe night mode, onboard ECG/SpO2, a full range of ABC sensors or an HRV test are your thing? They’re all included.
However, the Vertix 2’s standout features are the accuracy from a new dual-frequency GPS chip (and it is accurate), some clever strength & conditioning features, a track running mode, market-leading battery life and Insta 360 camera control.
Bear in mind that Coros Vertix 2 is the brand’s state-of-the-art hardware platform. remember also that Coros has announced that maps will be made available to earlier watch models and have innovated at a fantastic pace over the last 3 years. Therefore you can be confident that a Vertix 2 bought now will reap the rewards of all the new software features over the next few years.
A discount for the Coros Vertix 2 is hard to come by but you can get a free $30 accessory strap if you use the code THE5KRUNNER when you buy direct from Coros.com, and that’s how you support the work here…thank you.
- With caveats, one of the most accurate GPS watches I’ve tested
- Immense battery life…unbelievable
- Good multisport functionality
- Good physiology features – no more or less flawed than Garmin’s
- Great durability
- Good quality sensors for outdoor adventures, the compass needs a tad more love.
- Strava course support (Sep 2021, Komoot 2021)
- The large format is great for readability but limits the appeal for smaller wristed people
- The watch experience has improved, Coros needs to focus on the app too.
- Basic music only – no links to Spotify or other streaming services
- Basic, non-routable maps only but that’s Ok for most of us
- No ANT+ sensor support
Who is the Coros Vertix 2 aimed at?
Make no mistake. Coros is gunning for Garmin Fenix 6X/6 Pro Sapphire buyers and Garmin Enduro. The ‘Vertix’ name is a giveaway that another target is climbers.
So, if you are a serious adventurer-cum-runner who needs a larger format watch then Vertix 2 could be for you and, similarly, multisport athletes needing a more rugged sports watch will also be tempted.
Coros Vertix 2 Review – What’s New?
There are visual similarities to the original Vertix, however, Vertix 2 is a wholly new piece of hardware from Coros who claim that many high-quality components are used. The onboard software and app carry over a huge number of features from earlier models and add some major new ones. Try these…
- Dual-frequency GPS – For the first time EVER, a sports watch doubles up on the satellite signals it uses to deliver more accuracy. GPS, GLONASS and Galileo are used as before but this time an additional frequency is used. No Garmin Fenix watch currently has this as of Aug.21. NB: This is NOT a Sony chip.
- Sapphire glass with DLC and Titanium bezel – super durability. Comparable to the top-end Garmin Fenix with Sapphire glass (better than Gorilla glass).
- Global offline maps – free maps but no DEM nor intelligent routing. Your regional TOPO maps are also free. Comparable to the top-end Garmin Fenix 6 Pro models that have similar maps. TOPO maps will also come later to existing Apex Pro and Vertix 1 owners!
- Next-generation hardware – it’s simply faster than what came before with next-generation technologies (Coros claim 20% faster)
- Large screen support – it’s the largest screen size normally available, bigger than Vertix 1 and the same as that on the 51mm Garmin Fenix 6X. The new screen supports 8 metrics per page.
- Market-leading battery life of 135 hours with per second recording and GPS – this is more than the Fenix 6X (120 hours)
- A touchscreen and digital dial together aid an improved user interaction. On top of that, a new widget menu similar to Garmin’s looks and works better than before.
- Optical HR sensor that gives ECG and HRV levels of HR accuracy
- Offline Music Support and Bluetooth headphone support – a less sophisticated music service than the Fenix 6 Pro
- WiFi Support – Coros tease that this new feature could be used to support streaming services ‘later’. Initially, it is for firmware downloads.
These are also worth highlighting
- Multi-pitch climbing mode – separately records different grades in a single climb
- HRV Index (for a waking HRV/Readiness test)
- ANT+ Support removed
- Keychain Charger, Watch carabiner and Insta 360 Camera Control
- OK, it’s not as glamorous as the more expensive Garmin Fenix with Solar charging…but it’s much cheaper.
Coros Vertix 2 – What you still get
We sometimes forget the features that are included in previous models and Coros DOES already have some features that Garmin lacks – and vice versa, of course.
The Vertix 2 is the top-end watch from Coros that has all the existing features including Quickfit-like straps, SpO2, EVOlab physiology features, BLE sensor support, ABC, magnetic compass, thermometer, barometric altimeter, laps, custom pool lengths, PM & native Stryd support, create & share training plans with complex structured workouts, track mode, muscle heatmap for strength & conditioning, sleep reporting, multisport…to name a few.
Coros Vertix 2 vs Garmin Fenix 6X Pro Sapphire – what they don’t tell you
There are subtle features and nuances available to the Garmin Fenix 6 when compared to the Vertix 2.
There are also more in-your-face differences – Fenix 6 Pro has NFC payments, supports music streaming services like Spotify and has routable maps with a DEM.
Perhaps the 3 less obvious areas where Garmin wins would be on its support for 3rd party Connect IQ apps, the Garmin Connect smartphone app experience and the number and variety of obscure metrics. Everything else could be argued back and forth as your favourite featurette will be irrelevant to someone else and their particular favourite. Perhaps the native Running power and Muscle Heatmaps for S&C are the unique Coros features for you? Perhaps not?
Unless you need a specific feature both watches tick most boxes.
The Coros Vertix 2 absolutely IS a well-specified Adventure/climbing/running/multisport watch.
Coros Battery Life
Garmin, Coros and some others have nailed battery life. The problem is solved and the hours that can be delivered now are awesome and meet the needs of 99.9% of buyers.
In some ways, the headline 135-hour figure for continuous GPS usage sounds ridiculously good. But once you factor in turning on the ‘best accuracy’ mode and then playing some music and having the backlight on whilst you show the map, then the headline figure will soon significantly diminish. HOWEVER, it will diminish to sensible levels that you can still use for a LONG time. If you try those with other smartwatches then you’ll have a flat battery after a couple of hours. Not so the Coros.
- Daily use – 60 days
- Standard full GPS (every second) – 135 hours
- All Systems On – 90 hours
- Extra Accuracy Mode: All Systems + Dual Frequency On – 50 hours
- UltraMax GPS 240 hours
Having maps on your wrist has its pros and cons. Perhaps a handheld is better for hiking and perhaps a watch is too small to see full details. The 51mm face on the Vertix 2 represents a useful compromise where maps can be used to contextualise your outdoors experience rather than to dominate it.
Global Coros maps are included for free and it’s also great that you can sync POIs across to the watch.
Strava course support is to be added in September 2021 (Komoot, end 2021) but at launch, there was only manual support for GPX courses files that you create somewhere else and you have to manually load these onto the app so that they are synced onto the watch.
Coros shows elevation profiles from your GPX courses.
As there is no map intelligence on the watch, there is no possibility of re-routing if you make a wrong turn.
So if you have more complex routing needs, the Coros won’t be for you. However, I suspect that most of you don’t need that and merely having a decent map on your wrist gives the positional context you need to make many decisions on the ground. Indeed that was precisely the criticism of the Garmin Enduro that dcrainmaker, myself and other reviewers made earlier in the year…that watch had breadcrumb routes but no map; you need the map to add context to the breadcrumb route IMO.
So. Coros Vertix 2 is a better choice than the Enduro in some respects.
Coros Music Playback
There is support only for MP3 audio files that you have manually copied across to the watch from a PC attached by a cable.
Coros has stated that more music features are in development and hinted that these might use WiFi.
Coros Vertix 2 Review Accuracy – GNSS, HR & Elevation
Summary: Very promising.
This section is to be expanded after the next GNSS firmware upgrade.
Expect to find mixed results with any new GPS chipset! However, I can say for now that you WILL see improved GPS tracks that ARE better than what we have seen before. However, there are also less frequent times when the tracks go awry. So once the firmware is fully bedded in this should be an all-around improvement and possibly best-ever performances but it isn’t quite there as of August 2021 (v2.52.0813beta/v2.53Final).
Here is some data from an older firmware that’s mostly good: Pink=Vertix, Yellow=935/HRM-PRO, Green=9Peak, Red=Apple SE, Blue=Verity Sense.
You can see the heart rate chart is good over a few intervals and the GNSS is good in a suburban housing grid. Running along a high street with the Vertix on my left wrists had good results when the Vertix was away from the shops (3rd image) but much less good results when I crossed the road, went under some street scaffolding and had the Vertix on the shop side.
More Accuracy Details: Another accuracy post showing better results with Dual-frequency turned off !
Dual Frequency Precision for GNSS/GPS
Dual Frequency signals can improve precision in difficult reception conditions, ranging from running in a canyon, cycling between tall buildings and perhaps also when navigating in forests.
I talk a LOT on this site about GPS accuracy and since mid-2020 I’ve discussed Dual Frequency chipsets too. Before that, there were false dawns as greater accuracies were promised as new constellations became supported. First GLONASS failed to deliver on the promises of greater accuracy, followed soon after by Galileo. To be fair to Garmin/Sony, they eventually sorted out their teething problems with GPS+GLONASS but the end result was often only marginally better than GPS-only.
Enabling the Glonass and Galileo constellations makes more satellites available. That just means an increased likelihood of you achieving the maximum stated accuracy of +/-5m. Dual Frequency gives the prospect of greater accuracy down to +/- 1m.
Different frequencies/wavelengths refract differently through the atmosphere and reflect differently off buildings and trees. If both signal frequencies from one satellite report the same distance then you should be more certain that the stated distance is correct. On the other hand, satellite signals that report discrepancies between the signal frequencies can be temporarily ignored. Thus at any given instant the watch can use only trusted information to get greater accuracy. That’s the theory!
High-Frequency Recording GPS Chipset
This feature is NOT YET ENABLED but the watch has the ability to make 10 readings per second (10Hz). Depending on the watch’s ability to deal with these readings, there is the possibility for more responsive navigation and this might help accuracy when you are moving at speed. If enabled this will lower battery life.
Coros Vertix 2 vs Coros Vertix 1 vs Suunto 9 Peak
Here we have the 51mm, 47mm and 44mm screens of the V2, V1 and 9 Peak respectively. Note the black rings around the usable screen area. These screen sizes correspond to those from Garmin with the Fenix 6X, 6 and 6S.
Coros Vertix 2 Specifications
These specs are here for completeness but I’ll just draw your attention to a couple of features we’ve not covered, namely, the recharge time of 2 hours and the lowest operating temperature of -22°F/-30℃. Brrrr.
|COROS VERTIX 2 Specifications|
|Model||COROS VERTIX 2 GPS Adventure Watch|
|Display Size||1.4 inch|
|Display Resolution||280 x 280px (64 colors)|
|Display Type||Touch Screen Always-On Memory LCD|
|Screen Material||Sapphire Glass|
|Bezel Material||Grade 5 Titanium Alloy with PVD coating|
|Cover Material||Titanium Alloy with PVD coating|
|Watch Band||26mm Quick Fit Band|
|Physical Size||50.3 x 50.3 x 15.7mm|
|Weight with Silicone Band||91g|
|Battery Life||Standard Full GPS (every second)|
|(GPS/QZSS): 140 Hours|
|Standard Full GPS (every second) with Music Playing|
|(GPS/QZSS): 35 Hours|
|All Systems On|
|(GPS/QZSS+GLONASS+Galileo+BeiDou): 90 Hours|
|All Systems On with Music Playing|
|(GPS/QZSS+GLONASS+Galileo+BeiDou): 30 Hours|
|All Systems + Dual Frequency On|
|(GPS/QZSS+GLONASS+Galileo+BeiDou w/ Dual Frequency): 50 Hours|
|(GPS+PDR): 240 Hours|
|Daily Use: 60 Days|
|Wireless Connection||Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 5.0 Dual Mode (ie it includes BLE)|
|Satellite Chipset||All-Satellite, Dual-Frequency, GNSS Chipset. Airoha AG3335M|
|Sensors||Optical Pulse Oximeter|
|Optical Heart Rate Sensor|
|Magnetic Compass (declination is being worked on, source both: Coros)|
|Water Resistance||10 ATM|
|Working Temperature||-22°F to 122°F (-30℃ to 50℃)|
|Charging Time||Less than 2 hours|
|Map/Navigation Support||Global Offline Street and Topographical Maps|
|Touchscreen and Digital Dial-enabled Breadcrumb Navigation|
|Back to Start|
|Distance to Destination|
|Music Support||Internal Storage and Bluetooth Streaming for Offline Content|
|Sports Profiles||Run, Indoor Run, Trail Run, Track Run, Hike, Mountain Climb, Bike, Indoor Bike, Pool Swim, Open Water, Triathlon, Gym Cardio, GPS Cardio, Ski, Snowboard, Cross-country Ski, Ski Touring, Multisport, Strength, Training, Speedsurfing, Windsurfing, Whitewater, Flatwater, Rowing, Indoor Rower|
And here is a detailed look at the exterior of the Vertix 2
Buy Coros Vertix 2 – Discount, Pricing & Availability
Initial availability is only from Coros.com. My guess would be that this will remain the case until October 2021.
- Two Launch Colors: Obsidian, Lava.
- Retail Price: $699.99 / €699.99 / £599.99
- Watchbands available at launch: Coral, Grey, Yellow, Black, Green Navy
Buy Now: from Coros.com, use the code THE5KRUNNER to get a free $30 accessory like a band or this keychain charger.
I’m seriously impressed that Coros has bundled music and map support with the Vertix 2. Add to that the all-new dual-frequency GNSS chipset then I’m happy. Very happy.
Sure we can criticise the absence of a music streaming service or app store or map routing options on the watch. But Coros has gone from zero to wannabe hero in the space of 3 years. Imagine what they will be able to offer in 2 or 3 more years time!
The Earlier Pace 2 is a great running watch with masses of features and its sensible price point showed that Coros meant business. Now we are seeing the Vertix 2 take the first big step toward harder-to-implement features as found elsewhere on top-end watches like the Garmin Fenix 6X.
I suspect the market will now take Coros seriously.
However, the price is not quite right for Coros to take the market by storm as they did with the Pace 2. The comparable hardware from Garmin is the Fenix 6 Pro Sapphire non-Solar (Garmin.com shows UK£899 & US$799).
The non=Sapphire 6X Pro is not quite as good a physical spect as the Vertix 2 and the Garmin Fenix 6X Pro NON-SAPPHIRE is now reduced to £450 (rrp £650). If Coros want to sell lots of Vertix 2 models just like they sold lots of Pace 2 models then they need to cut the price to below £500/$600 and perhaps also to below £400/$500, depending on the details of the upcoming Garmin Fenix 7 and if that pushes existing Fenix 6 prices lower.
This is a good watch although the app needs usability improvements for those who intend to use it in preference to pushing the data to a 3rd party platform, I specifically think of making route importing much easier but also some general love to the experience and interface (Strava & Komoot support to come very soon).
I probably would shy away from recommending Vertix 2 to triathletes due to the lack of ANT+ support and, indeed, I feel that Vertix 2 is more attuned to climbers and the sort of runner/athlete that would buy the Garmin Enduro. Vertix 2 & Enduro are the same size format with similar physical performance characteristics…yet Vertix 2 trumps the Enduro from a runner’s perspective because it has an introductory level of maps and music both of which the Enduro lacks.
Suunto 9 Baro/9 Peak is a direct competitor and Suunto should be worried by the Vertix 2. Whilst the Suunto 9 PEAK/9 hardware package is probably better, Coros has shown that it has definitely moved ahead by delivering a large number of software features.
So if you want a high-end ultra running watch, a climbers’ watch, or a rugged adventure watch that might beat a Suunto then the Coros Vertix 2 is a GREAT contender. But it should be seen as a leader in the tier below the Fenix 6X Pro rather than a direct alternative. If you are comparing the Vertix 2 to the Fenix 6X Pro Sapphire then, sure, it’s cheaper but some of the software features are not as rich.
Enduro/Vertix 2 are ‘my kind of watch…for me‘ and in many ways, I prefer the way that Coros has implemented direct MP3 playback, basic maps and the ability to access it easily via a PC. However, the lack of ANT+ support means I would only ever use it for running activities…but that’s cool as Stryd works with Vertix 2 as well!