Coros is coming after Garmin with a third-generation GPS watch that’s smaller, lighter, and more affordable than its closest rivals. Although the Pace 3 skips out on features like NFC, it now offers music storage, a touchscreen, and a bigger battery while only gaining one gram of weight.
Coros Pace 3 review: At a glance
- What is it? The Pace 3 is Coros’ third-generation road-focused running watch. It replaces the Pace 2 and adds several new smartwatch-style features, including a touchscreen and breadcrumb-style GPX navigation, as well as a slightly larger battery,
- What is the price? The Coros Pace 3 is available for $229 in either white or black colorways and a special red Track Edition, which also costs $229.
- Where can you buy it? Coros announced its Pace 3 on August 29, 2023, with sales beginning on the same day. It’s available directly from Coros and should launch on Amazon soon.
- How did we test it? I tested the Coros Pace 3 for two weeks. The review unit was supplied by Coros.
- Is it worth it? The Coros Pace 3 is an excellent option if you’re looking for your first GPS watch and are on a budget. It picks up several features over its predecessor, including an upgraded heart rate sensor, a touch screen, and a bigger battery, while remaining significantly more affordable than its closest rivals from Garmin, Suunto, and Polar.
Should you buy the Coros Pace 3?
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Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Coros’ small, lightweight Pace GPS watch series has a special place in my heart. The Pace 2 was the first — and only — watch I wore when I got back into running a few years ago. It combined great battery life and reliable training plans at a reasonable price of $200. The Pace 2 was even the go-to watch for some of my running idols, like Eliud Kipchoge and Molly Seidel. Unfortunately, a series of software updates tanked that excellent battery and caused my training plan to stop syncing from my phone to my watch, causing me to ditch the Pace 2 for a pricier Garmin alternative for all my fitness tracking needs. We’ll see if the Pace 3 can win back my favor.
First, some bad news — the Pace 3 got heavier. Don’t worry, though — it only gained a total of one gram. Coros bumped its featherweight fighter from 29g to an even 30g with the nylon band, which is a small price to pay given some of the other upgrades. If you opt for the silicone band, it weighs 39g, which is still lighter than most of the competition. The case is still made from a fiber-reinforced polymer (plastic), meaning the heavier components are hidden beneath the surface. Coros’ Pace 3 is also sized for 22mm bands, meaning that your favorite 20mm bands from the Pace 2 will no longer fit properly.
Weight aside, the main difference you’ll notice on the Pace 3 is its upgraded display. It’s not bigger or brighter than before (still a 1.2-inch panel with a 240 x 240 resolution), but it’s now a touchscreen. It took me a minute or two to figure out how to activate the always-on aspect of the touchscreen — it’s only active during workouts by default — but it’s a nice alternative to the typical crown and button navigation. Unfortunately, Coros’ Memory LCD is still relatively dim, meaning it can be tough to see in direct sunlight or darkness unless you press and hold the crown to activate the backlight. That said, there are still plenty of colorful watch faces, and Coros is pretty reliable when it comes to unique faces for holidays (yes, the Boston Marathon counts as a holiday for runners).
The other key upgrade comes when you flip the Pace 3 over. Coros swapped its old, tiny heart rate sensor for a much larger, more reliable setup — the same as you’ll find on the brand’s dedicated Heart Rate Monitor. The new sensor uses five LEDs, four photodetectors, and an optical pulse oximeter to gather data while you work out and go about your day. I had no issues with the Pace 3’s accuracy during my testing, whether paired with the external heart rate monitor or standing on its own. You might just notice the bump a bit more on your wrist compared to the previous heart rate monitor.
The chart below is a 30-minute segment from one of my runs while in Berlin, and it reflects my heart rate using the Pace 3 without an external heart rate monitor. It accurately shows three drops where I had to stop while waiting to cross the road, as well as sharp changes at points where my heart rate jumped and flat sections where it was consistent. Other runs in my hometown skew much higher, with the heat and humidity making it almost impossible to keep my heart rate below 140.
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Coros also managed to beef up the battery in its Pace 3, at least by a few milliamp hours. It now carries a 236mAh cell compared to the Pace 2’s 220mAh option. According to Coros, the Pace 3 should manage around 24 days of battery life in smartwatch mode or 38 hours of GPS tracking. My Pace 3 arrived with around a 50% charge, so I did plug it in before heading off to IFA in Berlin for a week, but I haven’t had to reach for the proprietary cable since then. When you drain the Pace 3’s battery, it takes about two hours to get a full charge using the proprietary charging cable.
The new Pace 3 finally supports dual-band GPS tracking, too. It’s designed for increased accuracy in cities (Coros lists New York and Chicago specifically). However, I spent my time with the watch locked into single-band tracking as neither Berlin nor Baltimore has enough tall buildings to interfere with the GPS. I didn’t notice any difference in accuracy, as you’ll see on the map below. The Pace 3 accurately graphed each turn, including when I made a sharp right to grab a photo of Berlin’s Schloss Bellevue.
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
Perhaps what I was most worried about with the Pace 3 was whether or not Coros had fixed its training plans. After ditching the Pace 2 in the middle of marathon training, I was more than a little wary of jumping back in. So far, however, it seems like training is back on track. I grabbed a familiar half marathon plan from the training plan library in the Coros app, chose my start date, and synced right away. Coros may have streamlined its app from the last time I used it, putting the training calendar and recovery timer front and center — not unlike the Garmin Connect app. You can find your heart rate and sleep data a bit lower in the app, though both metrics take regular wear before building an accurate profile.
The Coros Pace 3 gains a gram, but picks up much more power under the hood.
While most of the tweaks and refinements on the Coros Pace 3 make life better, one thing is still missing — there’s still no NFC. The decision ultimately means you can’t use Coros’ third-generation fitness tracker for wireless payments. After spending more than a year with Garmin watches on my wrist, I’ll admit that I’ve become pretty attached to using Garmin Pay for my morning coffee, so it’s been quite the adjustment to fit a credit card in my running shorts again when I head out. Coros also axed ANT+ connectivity from its setup, making it harder to sync with multiple sensors at once, and the watch no longer syncs via Wi-Fi, now syncing only when the Coros app is running.
The Pace 3 did pick up a slight price bump to account for its upgrades, rising from $199 to $229. In the grand scheme, it remains a bargain compared to several of Garmin’s watches that will set you back more than $1,000. While I’ll miss a few of Garmin’s extra features, it’s much easier to justify Coros’ price point — especially if this is your first GPS watch.
Pace 3 Choirs
Super lightweight • Improved battery life • Great value
Lightweight but mighty.
Coros is coming after Garmin with a third-generation GPS watch that’s smaller, lighter, and more affordable than its closest rivals.
What are the best Coros Pace 3 alternatives?
Ryan Haines / Android Authority
While the Coros Pace 3 is a great option for getting your feet wet in the world of GPS watches, there are plenty of other options. Here are a few GPS watches and entry-level smartwatches with great health tracking you might want to consider as well:
- Garmin Forerunner 255 ($304.99 at Amazon): Garmin’s previous-generation Forerunner 255 offers a full suite of training features, along with support for Garmin Pay and multiple case sizes to fit all wrists.
- Apple Watch SE 2 ($269.99 at Amazon): The Apple Watch SE 2 is your best bet for an iOS wearable on a budget. It doesn’t match the Pace 3’s battery life, though it offers more in-depth app support and richer notifications.
- Fitbit Versa 4 ($199 at Amazon): Fitbit’s Versa 4 walks a fine line between smart features and health tracking on its square, one-inch AMOLED panel. It packs better battery life than the Apple Watch SE 2, as well as support for both Android and iOS.
- Samsung Galaxy Watch 6 ($299.99 at Samsung): Samsung’s Galaxy Watch 6 slots into the same category of competitor as the Apple Watch SE 2. It’s more expensive than the Pace 3 but offers far more smartwatch-style features like apps and the ability to easily respond to messages, doubling as a fitness tracker in a pinch.
Coros Pace 3 specs
|Pace 3 Choirs
1.2-inch Memory LCD
Dimensions and weight
41.9 x 41.9 x 11.7mm
Fiber-reinforced polymer bezel and case
Coros Pace 3 review: FAQ
Yes, the Coros Pace 3 is waterproof — at least to a degree. It carries a 5ATM rating, which means it can withstand up to 50 meters of pressure. However, Coros does not recommend diving with the Pace 3.
Yes, the Coros Pace 3 comes with 4GB of space to store music.
Yes, the Pace 3 uses breadcrumb-style navigation to guide users along a route or hiking trail.
Yes, the Pace 3 calculates your VO2 Max as part of the EvoLab suite of metrics.
Yes. The Coros Pace 3 can track your sleep during set hours, but the watch also starts checking for sleep patterns two hours before and after the designated window.
Yes, the Pace 3 is compatible with Strava, Nike Run Club, Google Fit, Apple Health, and many more health tracking apps.