COROS Apex – The Basics: Watch Functions, UI, Full Menu Walkthrough

The Coros Apex Premium Multisport Watch. For a new contender in the sports watch market, Coros has been doing great – and you get a premium sports watch without the price premium. In this post, I want to go over the basics…

Full disclosure: I received the watch I’ve been using for testing for free from Coros, without obligations or payment. As always, my opinions are my own.

And as usual, I’m less interested in giving you my opinion than I am in giving you an impression of it, data from my experiences with it, and the facts.

This way, you can see for yourself.

Below, right here, an overview regarding price, build quality, basic operation in watch mode and a menu walk-through.

Next up, in other posts, a look at the Coros app, training functions, daily tracking. Examples of GPS performance are already online (1, 2, 3)…


The price does not usually figure into my considerations. In a world of 600+ Euro/dollar watches, it is worth pointing out that the Coros Apex (in the slightly larger 46 mm version with a bigger battery) costs 349.99,-

One word of caution: You will want to check where you get it from; if you buy it directly and it is delivered from the USA, customs duties and taxes may be levied. The one I got (in Europe) was delivered by Amazon Germany, therefore, there were no such charges.

Build Quality

While various of the expensive premium sports watches cost nearly twice as much but only use mineral crystal glass, the Coros Apex’s standard glass is made of sapphire crystal.

The bezel finish is titanium alloy (in the 46 mm model; the smaller 42 mm version has a ceramic bezel finish and still uses sapphire glass).

The watch strap is a comfortable, slightly stretchy silicone band with quick-release buckles and a width of 22 mm. (On the smaller 42 mm version, the band is a 20 mm width.)

Apex back view. HR sensor, charging port (uses proprietary cable/connector), quick-release straps
Apex back view. HR sensor, charging port (uses proprietary cable/connector), quick-release straps


There are three different builds (for both size versions): Fully “black”; “silver” bezel and black body and band; “white” body and band with silver bezel.

Additional watch bands in different colors are also available, if you feel like switching it up.

Coros Apex, view from side
Digital knob and button (from right to left)

Build / UI

Physically, the watch is controlled with a “digital knob” that works as both a button and a kind of scroll wheel and is used for all major functions. There is a button on the same side as the knob; it mainly works as a “back” button, but also leads into a shortcuts menu when long pressed.

Coros Apex display
Coros Apex display

Watch Screen

The watch screen is a transflective color display, as has become popular on many of the current top-of-line sports watches. Thus, as usual, it is nicely visible when light shines through it but can get quite dull otherwise.

For such low-light conditions, there is an option to turn on the backlight when raising the watch; button presses also turn on the backlight.

Main Watch Displays

Standard Watchfaces

The Coros Apex offers onboard memory for five different watchfaces, plus 12 additional watchfaces (17 in total) in the app.

To use a watchface that is available from the app but not yet on the watch, one has to replace (exchange) them.

Coros Apex watchface picker
Coros Apex watchface picker
Coros Apex watchface color selector
Coros Apex watchface color selector

The watchfaces range from the simple via the data-rich to the rather playful.

They often have a focus on calorie burn and activity time, but usually also show step count, battery level, day/date, and floors climbed (changed via the button).

Button Lock in Watch Mode

The Apex does not have a manual button lock but, rather better, uses an autolock. When turned on, this feature locks the watch (in normal operation) on the watchface, two minutes after the last button press. In watch mode, holding the digital knob or a simple press of the button also turn off the lock, though.

Coros Apex autolocked
Coros Apex autolocked

Other Displays

Rotating the digital knob leads to the other displays (or as Coros calls them in the manual, “segments”).

  • Display 1: Calories, Steps, Active Time, Floors Climbed

Calories and steps are shown in the first display down; pushing the digital knob switches to show activity time and floors climbed.

Screen showing calories and steps
Screen showing calories and steps
Screen showing active time and floors climbed
Screen showing active time and floors climbed
  • Display 2: Heart Rate

The next display shows the current heart rate (which always takes some time to start being shown) and a graph of the heart rate during the last 6 hours. Push the digital knob to get to the second display here, which shows the real time heart rate.

Heart rate screen 1
Heart rate screen 1
Heart rate screen 2
Heart rate screen 2
  • Display 3: Air Pressure, Altitude, Temperature

The third display shows the current atmospheric pressure and its development over the last 6 hours in graphical form.

Barometric pressure
Barometric pressure

Or, pushing the knob, the current altitude and the last 6 hours’ graph.


Or – yes, here there is a third screen – the current temperature and the last 6 hours’ temperature graph.


As usual, the temperature is that of/on the watch, as influenced by body temperature. To see the actual temperature, you would have to take off your watch for a while.

Air pressure changes are interpreted either as barometric changes or altitude changes, depending on whether one is moving or not (or the watch interprets things the one way or the other).

  • Display 4: Compass

The next display shows the digital compass, including a display of the heading and a small field with the current time.

Compass screen activating GPS
Compass screen activating GPS

The second screen here shows the same, but adds geographical coordinates, activating GPS.

  • Display 5: Notifications

When notifications are active and haven’t all been cleared from the watch, there is a fifth display/segment showing notifications.

An email notification, for example
An email notification, for example


Talking of notifications: The Apex is quite good at receiving notifications and displaying them nicely (including when they are in Chinese characters. That’s probably not most English speaker’s concern, but I like to see that; the Garmin Instinct, for example, only shows question marks instead of Chinese characters.)

There is no possibility to see more message text than the Apex immediately shows, but one can ignore or hang-up on phone calls from the watch and delete old notifications, at least.

Main (“General”) Menu

Pushing the digital knob leads into the Apex’s main menu, which is for under-the-hood settings, logbook, and training.

System Menu


One option in the main menu is for the “System.”

“General” Settings Menu

This includes “General” settings:

  • Wrist Hand“, i.e. whether the watch is worn on the left or right wrist.
  • Gesture & Backlight” to set them to “Auto“matically active during the times shown there – which are related to the times between sunset and sunrise – to “Always” be on no matter the time or to be deactivated via the “Off” setting
  • Digital Knob” to scroll one way or the other (“Clockwise Down” or “Clockwise Up“)
  • Vibration & Tones” to (individually) set up
    Vibration” (for everything, nothing, or everything but putton bresses, here labeled keys),
    Key Tones” for beeps when pushing a button,
    Msg. & Call Tones” for tones with notifications,
    Alarm Tones” for a beeping or vibration-only alarm, and
    Activity Alert Tones“.
  • Auto Lock” (as mentioned above) to be on or off.
  • Units” for metric or imperial setting.
  •  “Date/Time” including 12- or 24-hour format, “Auto-Sync” (of time with the smartphone via the app), time zone, and an option to manually set time and date.
  • Language” – English, Chinese, German, Spanish, French being available.
  • Elevation” to set current altitude manually or via GPS (requiring a good GPS fix).
  • Compass” i.e. its calibration.
  • Device’s Info” such as ID and component firmware versions
  • Reset All” to reset all settings on the watch.
  • Turn Off

The System menu also includes the options to:

“Pair Phone” (which provides a QR code through which the Coros app links up to the watch)

Set the “Watch Face & Theme Color” (with colors changeable as long as that is supported by the watch face in question).

“Alarm” (which also stores formerly set alarms), with options for an alarm to go off “Only Once” when the set time comes around next, “Every Day,” or “Custom” on certain days of the week.

(Whether the alarm is with tones or vibration-only or both is set up via the “Vibration & Tones” settings in the “General” settings for the “System”, described above.)

Accessories” to add an ANT+ sensor, a list of added devices, and the option to “Broadcast Heart Rate“.

The setting for “Do Not Disturb” mode can also be found here. It disables notifications but does no longer (as it used to) turn off the gesture backlight function.

Apex AI Trainer

AI Trainer

The main menu, reached by pushing the digital knob once, also leads to the “AI Trainer” of the Coros Apex. At first, that screen shows the current stamina and the time still needed for one’s full recovery (or “100% Recovery”).

Apex AI Trainer Stamina
Apex AI Trainer Stamina

Below, using the digital knob to scroll down, there is also the logbook of one’s previously done training sessions with the summary data for those accessible.

Apex AI Trainer Sportslog List
Apex AI Trainer Sportslog List

Sports Modes

Finally, sports modes can be found from the same menu; the Coros Apex (currently) offers

  • Run
  • Indoor Run
  • Bike
  • Indoor Bike
  • Pool Swim
  • Open Water
  • Triathlon

(More sports modes are said to be coming soon [June 2019]!)

These sports modes, except for the triathlon one (which uses the run, bike, and swim modes, of course) can be customized in the app, which we’ll have a detailed look at in the next post.

Quick Menu

There is also a menu for some of the major settings to be quickly available, entered holding the normal (“back”) button for a little longer.

Apex Quick Menu

It offers a circular menu with options to:

  • Change the watch face
  • Access the compass screen
  • Start stopwatch
  • Start timer
  • Access the (“system”) settings menu
  • Turn on/off the Do Not Disturb mode
  • Set alarms

So much for these basics…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *