This Coros sports watch weighs exactly the same as a creme egg but is more useful for tracking your runs

There aren't many GPS running watches that come in at just over £200. James Forrest finds out if the attractive price-tag is all it seems with the Coros Pace 3.

from Coros
RRP  £219.00
Coros Pace 3

by James Forrest |
Updated on

The Coros Pace 3 is an excellent entry-level watch, offering a lot of bang for your buck – but it has some big pros and big cons that may polarise opinion.

The Pace 3 is wonderfully lightweight, clocking in at just 39g with a silicone band (that’s 46g lighter than the Garmin Fenix 7 Pro, for example). This significantly enhances all-day comfort – it feels sleek and slimline on the wrist, with a featherlight profile. If you’re the kind of runner who hates the chunky shape of some modern GPS watches, the minimalist Pace 3 is a revelation.

Other big pros include the bargain price point of £219 (that’s a £430 saving compared to the Polar Grit X2 Pro), impressive battery life (38 hours with full GPS) and Coros’s excellent accompanying app with in-depth data metrics. You also get some high-end features such as dual-band GPS and an improved heart rate sensor, despite the affordable price-tag.

Expert rating:
4.0
Coros Pace 3 hand for scaleLFTO
Price: $229.00
Alternative retailers
Macy's$229.00View offer
DICK'S Sporting Goods$229.00View offer
Best Buy$229.99View offer

Pros

  • Superb price
  • Very comfortable
  • Ultralight
  • Solid battery
  • Accurate tracking

Cons

  • Poor screen
  • Dated user interface
  • Plasticky-feel
  • Not the most powerful battery
  • Utility
    3.0
  • Comfort
    4.0
  • Durability
    3.0
  • Ease of use
    4.5
  • Value
    5.0
Weight39g
Battery lifeUp to 38 hours in GPS mode, 17 days without GPS mode
Waterproof5ATM
MaterialsMineral glass, 240 x 240 resolution
Screen size1.2”

The negatives? The screen is pretty average – slightly-dull, small and basic, with cartoon-y graphics that look rather dated. The build quality is on the cheap end of the spectrum, with a plasticky feel and a slightly flimsy crown button, and some more premium features – such as contactless payments – are missing. The user interface could do with a refresh and upgrade too.

But, all in all, the Coros Pace 3 is definitely a bargain. It offers excellent value for money – perhaps the best we’ve seen in our recent tests – and delivers across all key areas. For just over £200, you get solid battery life, accurate tracking, first-rate comfort levels, an ultralight design and decent-enough features. If you want a less-is-more, no-nonsense running watch at an affordable price, you can’t go wrong with the Pace 3.

Design, Screen and User Interface

Coros Pace 3 graphics 01
©LFTO

The screen of the Coros Pace 3 is an always-on 1.2" transflective touch-screen display. It’s decent enough and displays all of the information you need in a readable format – or, in other words, it does the job in a fuss-free manner. Having said that, the screen lacks brightness and is small and basic, with out-dated graphics and a somewhat underwhelming overall display. Some runners won’t be bothered by this in the slightest; others will instead be lured by the dazzling brightness of the AMOLED screens of other watches on the market.

Coros Pace 3
©LFTO

The Pace 3 has two buttons: a rotating crown at the top right of the bezel and a normal button at the bottom right-hand side. These enable you to toggle easily between different screens, modes and settings. A nice feature is the way you have to hold down the crown button for 3 seconds to unlock the home screen, or end an activity, thus ensuring you don’t accidentally press the wrong thing.

The user interface is simple enough to navigate and works pretty well, but is arguably a little simplistic and in need of a refresh. At this price-point, however, it works fine and you can’t really complain.

GPS Accuracy

Coros Pace 3 graphics 02
©LFTO

We used the Coros Pace 3 on several training runs, including outings along the Keswick to Threlkeld railway path and an 18km loop of Buttermere and Crummock Water. We also used it on a Lakeland Trails Coniston 16km trail race.

On all of these outings, we found that the GPS signal locked-in relatively quickly – as confirmed by a beep and the satellite logo turning green on the screen – and then tracked our movements accurately and precisely. This was achieved thanks to Coros’s premium offering of GPS systems, including dual-frequency and access to all five of the main satellite networks (GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou and QZSS), as well as the use of a barometric altimeter for accurate elevation measurement.

In the two other modes – GPS only and all-systems-on (but without dual-frequency) – we noticed a small reduction in GPS accuracy on our run traces, but nothing for concern.

Weight and Size

Coros Pace 3 hand for scale
©LFTO

On our scales the Coros Pace 3 weighs just 39g, including the silicone waistband. That makes it the lightest watch we’ve tested in recent years, and far lighter than many other more expensive offerings. For example, the ultralight Pace 3 is 44g lighter than the Suunto Race, 49g lighter than the Coros Vertix 2S and 15g lighter than the next lightest watch we’ve tested, the Garmin Instinct 2 Solar. This low weight enhances comfort and ensures the watch feels streamlined and low-profile on the wrist, which many runners will prefer.

The watch itself is quite small. The screen is 1.2”, which is smaller than average, and the overall bezel dimensions of 41.9x41.9x11.7mm are quite minimalist too. Again, this enhances all-day comfort and means you’re less aware of wearing the watch. The super-thin, low-profile Pace 3 hugs the wrists well, flush to your skin, and stays stable no matter how dynamic your arm swing. Furthermore, if you want to track your sleep and, therefore, wear your watch overnight, the Pace 3 is far comfier for this than thicker, chunkier models.

Battery Life

Coros Pace 3 graphics 04
©LFTO

Despite the low weight of this watch, the Coros Pace 3 packs a decent punch in terms of battery life. Coros officially states the following battery performance across various different modes: 38 hours of GPS tracking (using GPS and QZSS satellite networks, reduced to 10 hours with music); 25 hours of GPS with all systems on (using GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou and QZSS, reduced to 9 hours with music); 15 hours of dual frequency GPS with all systems on (using GPS, GLONASS, Galileo, Beidou and QZSS, reduced to 7 hours with music); and 17 days of regular use (with daily and sleep tracking, but no GPS).

Coros Pace 3
©LFTO

We found this provided ample juice for a week’s worth of runs – five outings of an hour or two, using  the most accurate GPS setting (all systems on with dual frequency) – and thus required recharging only once a week. For most runners’ needs, this should suffice.

However other more premium watches do have longer-lasting batteries than the Pace 3, and ultra runners hitting the trails for 12+ hours may prefer a watch with a bit more juice to cover their long-distance, big mileage adventures.

Water-Resistance

Coros Pace 3 graphics 03
©LFTO

The Coros Pace 3 has a 5ATM rating, which means it can withstand pressures equivalent to a depth of 50 metres under water, and is suitable for use in rain, showering at home and “surface-water” activities such as pool swimming. Many premium watches have a higher 10ATM rating, but if you’re only swimming in a leisure centre pool this higher rating isn’t a game-changer.

Navigation and Mapping

Coros Pace 3 side view
©LFTO

We usually run with a mobile phone stashed in a pocket or in our race vest, and our preferred approach is to refer to this phone (not our smartwatch) if a navigation issue ever arises. This is because the phone screen is far bigger, and using apps such as OS Maps or Outdooractive we can view topographical Ordnance Survey 1:25k maps in full detail, rather than squinting to check basic maps on a small smartwatch screen.

However, for runners who like to use a smartwatch for navigation, the Coros Pace 3 has some good options. Using the accompanying Coros app, it’s easy to upload GPXs or plot routes, save them to your watch, and then follow them when out on your run. We tested this on an 18km loop of Buttermere and Crummock Water and it worked reasonably well – although the navigation feature is very, very basic. Effectively there is no map behind the route trace, with no topographical details and no features – it’s basically just a blank screen with a breadcrumb-trail-only route trace across it. Some runners may find this useful as a back-up; for many others it’ll prove so basic and lacking in detail, it becomes pointless even using it.

Running: Training, Coaching, Heart Rate and App

Coros Pace 3 phone for scale
©LFTO

Coros really excels when it comes to fitness data. Indeed, the Coros app feels designed for athletes who take their workouts – and their workout metrics and stats – very seriously. There is a wealth of information collated in the app, all displayed in useful formats and easily customisable, and you could easily spend hours checking different colourful graphs and progress charts.

Compared to previous Pace models, Coros says the heart rate monitor in the Pace 3 features a big upgrade. You get next-generation optical heart rate and Sp02 sensors, with the former boasting five LEDs and four photodetectors.

For runners looking to get faster, stronger and bag new PBs, the Coros app has a plethora of options. You can access training plans and workout itineraries, get real personalised advice from Coros coaches, and utilise advanced training analysis in the training hub. Out on the trail, there are a plethora of features to help you get the most of your workouts too, such as the virtual pacer.

Other Features

Coros Pace 3 rear
©LFTO

Other features including daily alerts (including active calories, exercise time, storm weather notifications), find my phone, fine my watch, stopwatch, third party integration with Komoot and strava, and the ability to download MP3 music to the watch. The latter is a nice touch, but we couldn’t use it because – since the Spotify era – we haven’t used MP3s for about a decade!

Verdict

An ultralight, super-comfortable, minimalist watch with impressive all-round performance at a superb price – but the screen is average and it feels a bit cheap and plasticky compared to others

How we tested

James Forrest navigating while testing gear for LFTO
©LFTO

James Forrest is one of the UK's most authoritative and high profile voices on wild camping and backpacking, and is a prolific peak bagger who always gives his gear a good thrashing.

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