REVIEWER: KARL FORCEY
One hundred and forty hours.
I’m an electronics geek when I’m not out running, and I know how these things work, but still. One hundred and forty hours of battery. One-second GPS. In a watch. That is just incredible. The new VERTIX 2 is an absolute beast of an adventure sports watch with some amazing new features, and we’re about to get into all of them – and whether this new offering from COROS should be finding its way onto your wrist.
Let’s start with the GPS. One of the biggest must-haves in a watch of this kind is the ability to track you accurately. All the other bells and whistles don’t mean a lot if, when you finish your run, the little orange line waves all over the place or zigzags to the other side of the river and back. Most watches have a good mastery of this, but can run into trouble in deep valleys, under dense canopies, in cities, and so on. If your watch can’t see the satellites, it’s always going to have trouble. The answer to this is: find more satellites! The VERTIX 2 uses not just GPS plus GLONASS, but five different networks (GPS/QZSS+GLONASS+Galileo+BeiDou) to keep the data coming in clean no matter where you are. It also uses a brand-new dual frequency mode, which does admittedly kill your battery life … to a measly 50 hours! But the accuracy is phenomenal. I noticed this most on city runs, where a long straight footpath would no longer have that slight waver but be a dead straight line.
GPS is a drain on the battery life of any device. But COROS somehow managed to crack the code back with their APEX watches. The VERTIX 2 takes it to the next level with 140 hours of standard GPS, which means you can continuously track multi-day running or hiking adventures. You also get 240 hours on ultramax, all systems 90 hours, all systems with dual frequency 50 hours, and a massive 60 days of daily use. Even with daily activities, I think I might have plugged it into the charger once during my review period. Like the APEX, it’s extremely liberating to never have to worry about battery life ever again.
The VERTIX 2 also introduces mapping to the COROS line. Now, I have never been a huge fan of mapping on watches. The VERTIX 2 maps were easy to use, though, and the touch screen really does well here. Topo and location maps for the whole Oceania region were easily downloaded and worked. Bread crumbing and other navigation were a little less intuitive, but this is something COROS will undoubtedly make even better as they refine the firmware, like they always do.
Music is another big addition. For those who love their tunes while running, this is a great feature that many other watch manufacturers have also added. There is 32GB of storage on board, so plenty of room for huge playlists and maps. There is no Spotify or online options, though, so you have to upload your MP3s.
The user interface will be familiar to APEX owners. On the big, new higher-resolution 1.4-inch screen, it is friendly and fun. There are new features here, too, with the digital crown now giving you access to widgets to give you easy viewing of the seemingly endless EvoLab health and other metrics available. The processor under the bonnet is 20% faster, it has WiFi, and the extra screen real estate lets you choose up to eight data fields in a single activity screen. Despite the larger screen, the titanium build keeps the weight down.
The HRV test, or ECG, is an interesting feature. After the one-minute test, it gives you the display, which is cool to look at, but you can’t really do much more with it yet. Again, I’m sure COROS will integrate this technology into the health-tracking metrics more fully with future updates. If you own an Insta3D camera, you are also in luck: the VERTIX 2 has a remote control for it built in, so you can get great footage of your adventures without fumbling around on the camera like a dork.
I do have a couple of very minor dislikes. The watch comes in a nice waterproof case, but once it’s on your wrist, the expensive-looking case will probably end up in a drawer somewhere. The intention is to use it trekking and so on, but for me, this is wasteful and unnecessary, and it must add to the overall price. Another gripe is that my Garmin ANT+ heartrate/run dynamics strap doesn’t work anymore. On the APEX, it worked like a charm. On the VERTIX, I guess they just couldn’t cram anything else into the case, so the hardware for ANT+ was left out. You can buy Bluetooth straps, but it’s a shame to see this feature go. The price will also put some people off. But a watch like this is an investment. It will serve you for many, many years, and right now, it is King of the Hill for performance and features, and no one else even comes close on battery life.
Other than that, this watch has it all. It is not just a runner’s watch – it will surely be a must-have for many mountain climbers, cyclists, hikers, and anyone with a sense of adventure. Is this watch for you, though? If you hate battery charging, run really long or frequently, or just have to have the latest and greatest, then the VERTIX 2 gets the big thumps up from me.
TESTER: Karl Forcey
RRP: $1,149 AUD / $1,239 NZD
WEBSITE: coros.net.au / coros.co.nz
CONDITIONS: Watches loaned from COROS Wearables for review purposes.