When GPS-running watches first hit the market over a decade ago, they were bulky behemoths that were not all that accurate and quite uncomfortable. Moreover, they were extremely expensive and lacked much of the functionality that is seen with the best GPS-running watches today.
With the advent of technological advancements and demand by everyday runners for premium GPS running watches, the selections have exploded.
Two of the most popular brands of GPS watches for runners are COROS and Garmin.
So, which is better, COROS vs Garmin GPS running watches? What features differentiate Garmin vs COROS watches and vice versa?
We will cover the following:
- Which is Better, COROS Vs Garmin GPS Watches for Runners?
- Key Differences Between COROS vs Garmin GPS Running Watches
Let’s jump in!
Which is Better, COROS Vs Garmin GPS Watches for Runners?
Both COROS and Garmin are reputable manufacturers of premium fitness watches, including top-of-the-line GPS running watches. In fact, both COROS GPS running watches, and Garmin GPS running watches routinely land top billing on lists of the best GPS watches for runners.
With that said, there are some key differences in the features, appearance, and functionality of Garmin watches vs COROS running watches, so our goal here is to highlight these differences to help you determine which brand—or even which specific GPS running watch—is best for you.
Key Differences Between COROS vs Garmin GPS Running Watches
One of the things that makes it so difficult to perform a comparison of Garmin vs COROS GPS running watches is the fact that both companies produce quite a number of GPS watches for runners, with models spanning a fairly large price range and offering different sets of features accordingly.
Therefore, it’s not possible to make sweeping generalizations that will necessarily apply to every single GPS running watch in the lineup of COROS vs Garmin, but we will try to compare the overall trends.
Keep in mind that you are often best served by trying to make an apples-to-apples comparison we are possible.
This means that if, for example, you are looking at the cheapest Garmin GPS running watch, you should compare it to an entry-level COROS GPS running watch or one in the COROS running watches lineup in the same price range.
It’s not necessarily “fair” to compare a COROS vs Garmin GPS running watch when you are looking at significantly different price points across brands.
With that said, here are a few of the main differences between COROS GPS running watches vs Garmin:
- Garmin watches typically have features that extend beyond just your training to help support your overall life as an athlete, including your recovery, readiness to train, etc. Runners navigate the interface of the watch using four buttons along the sides or even a touchscreen, in the case of premium Garmin GPS watches for runners.
- COROS watches tend to focus on being streamlined for running and prioritizing running-related metrics. COROS GPS running watches have a dial on the side to navigate between screens.
While there are other differences in the displays, apps, and features of the watches, the navigation via buttons/touchscreen or a dial is a seemingly simple difference that often makes runners prefer COROS vs Garmin or Garmin vs COROS depending on your navigation preference.
Both COROS and Garmin GPS running watches offer many of the same real-time metrics while you are actually running and post-workout summary metrics that offer more detail about your overall workout.
In general, the premium GPS watches from either brand offer additional data such as stride length.
One of the primary differences in how COROS vs Garmin GPS watches function is that when updates are placed, COROS rolls out the update for every single model, even the budget GPS running watches, whereas Garmin is selective with updates for only specific models.
This is one area in which runners often prefer using COROS vs Garmin running watches because updates help fix bugs in the software and offer new features, so even if you have an inexpensive COROS GPS running watch, you still get immediate access to the improvements.
Garmin vs COROS GPS Running Watch: Features
There are some differences in the features offered with Garmin vs COROS running watches.
For example, there are more built-in safety features for runners with Garmin watches.
Most Garmin running watches have Incident Detection and Livetrack as long as you and your Garmin watch are connected to your phone.
Incident Detection will alert your designated emergency contacts if the watch detects an accident during your workout.
LiveTrack allows you to share your real-time location with select individuals.
Additionally, the premium Garmin GPS running watches have lifestyle features like the ability to store music on the watch or play music through different apps, or make contactless payments at certain merchants.
Some of the best COROS GPS running watches have music capabilities, such as the COROS APEX 2, APEX 2 Pro, and VERTIX 2.
Most of the best Garmin running watches allow you to track your menstrual cycle, shoe mileage, and stress levels.
There are also audio cues and PacePro to use during your runs to keep you on pace and provide audio feedback about the progress of your workout and your stats.
On the other hand, the benefits of COROS vs Garmin in terms of features are the accuracy and speed of GPS signal acquisition and monitoring during your workout and better swim lap tracking on multisport watches.
Also, multisport COROS watches tend to be less expensive and more feature-packed than comparable Garmin multisport watches.
COROS vs Garmin GPS Running Watches: Battery Life
In general, both COROS and Garmin running watches have a pretty impressive battery life, which is why both brands make watches beloved by runners.
With that said the battery life tends to be slightly better with COROS vs Garmin watches, especially when considering budget-friendly models.
Across the lineup, COROS GPS watches have an average battery life of 30 hours while using GPS and about 30 days when using it for daily use without GPS being turned on. The COROS Apex and COROS Pace have especially good battery life in GPS running mode, so if you are an ultramarathon runner, either of these models can be a great choice.
Except for the premium Garmin Fenix 7 and Forerunner 955, the Garmin battery life is significantly shorter—closer to 14 hours on GPS and 7 days for regular use.
COROS vs Garmin GPS Running Watches: Heart Rate Monitoring
The accuracy of any wrist-based heart rate monitor is generally not as good as a chest strap heart rate monitor.
With that said runners who have tested several Garmin and COROS GPS running watches have typically said that the heart rate is more accurate with Garmin vs COROS.
This is because Garmin watches take heart rate readings multiple times per second during rest and workouts, whereas COROS takes readings once a second during workouts and just once every 1-10 minutes at rest, depending on your settings.
If you want to do heart rate training, you may be best served by going with a Polar GPS running watch, as this brand is known to be the most accurate with wrist-heart rate monitoring.
Alternatively, you can also wear a chest strap heart rate monitor or take your heart rate readings with a grain of salt.
COROS vs Garmin Watch: Apps
COROS and Garmin both offer companion apps for the GPS running watches that allow you to see all of your workout stats, plan navigation routes, and customize your watch in various ways.
Garmin uses Connect. This program allows you to earn badges based on your training and activity level, and the higher-end GPS running watches also have additional features like menstrual cycle tracking.
The COROS app has a cool feature that allows you to create strength training workouts, which is great for runners who often lack motivation or need direction for strength training.
Overall, COROS and Garmin are both reputable manufacturers of some of the best watches for runners, including entry-level GPS running watches and top-of-the-line GPS running watches.
Thus, choosing either a COROS GPS running watch or a Garmin GPS running watch can be a sound investment in your training.
If you want features like period cycle tracking, music capabilities, maps, and navigation, you should choose Garmin vs COROS, and if you prioritize battery life, slim design, multisport tracking, and warranty, you will likely prefer COROS vs Garmin.
For suggestions on some of the best heart rate monitors for runners, check out our guide here.