The Coros Pace 3 is a great value multisports watch that puts sports tracking before everything else, and the result is one of the best watches to track runs and more.
- Great sports tracking for the money
- Heart rate monitoring performance
- Improved battery life
- More expensive than Pace 2
- Not best for smartwatch features
- ANT+ dropped from Pace 2
- Touchscreen controlsYou can now navigate the watch via touch input instead of physical buttons.
- Optical heart rate and pulse oximeterUpgraded heart sensor, with pulse oximeter helping to track at altitude.
- Up to 24 days battery life24 hours of battery life from daily use.
The Coros Pace 3 is the multisports watch successor to the Coros Pace 2, a watch that I was a big fan of and would recommend to anyone who’s a fan of big metrics, long battery life and solid wrist-based heart rate stats.
For the Pace 3, Coros is seeking to make improvements in those areas and others too, with headline features like dual-band GPS, an upgraded heart rate sensor, navigation support and a music player for smartwatch fans.
It’s more expensive than the Pace 2, so has Coros done enough to justify the extra spend? Here’s my take.
Design and screen
- Weighs 30-39g
- Always-on memory LCD display
- Touchscreen support
When the Pace 2 launched, Coros made a big deal about how light it was. The Coros Pace 3 still maintains that lightweight design, jumping up a few grams in weight when paired with a silicone strap.
The Pace 3 comes in five different colours and does offer the option of a silicone or nylon strap. Whichever strap option you opt for, it’s a supremely light watch to wear with a case size that’s roughly the size of the one packed onto the Garmin Forerunner 265s.
It manages to keep things light thanks to a polymer case, which surrounds a 1.2-inch, 240 x 240 resolution memory LCD display. So it’s not an AMOLED, but that’s no real surprise given Coros hasn’t gone the AMOLED route just yet. What you lack in colour you make up for visibility. I’ve used it for swims and runs, and visibility is fine. It would be handy to have a bigger hit of light at night, but does a good enough job in lower lit conditions.
It’s a display that now offers touchscreen support, so you can swipe through screens to use the navigation features. It’s not like swiping on an Apple Watch or a Samsung Galaxy Watch, but if you like the idea of having a touchscreen, there’s an okay one here now.
Mainly though, you’ll be using the two physical buttons Coros includes that work in exactly the same way as they did on the Pace 2. You can use the twisting crown one to lock and unlock the watch to protect against accidentally turning it on, or you can choose to turn that off.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is the level of waterproofing. This is a multisports watch and one that will work for triathletes, so you’ve got the ability to submerge it in water up to 50 metres deep to track your pool and open water swims.
Software and smartwatch features
- Uses native Coros operating system
- Works with array of third party apps
- Includes 4GB music player
Like most sports watches, Coros takes care of things in-house with the software. You’ll use the Coros smartphone app (iOS and Android) to set things up, including features like notification support or if you want to fire over a workout.
It’s an app, much like Garmin Connect and Polar Flow, that’s a bit on the busy side. This is a watch that’s capable of doing a lot of different things but you’ll need to get to know the app to find out how to get things up and running.
On the watch, you now have that touchscreen support for navigating menus and while it’s not the best-looking watch software it’s pretty easy to get to grips with.
If you’re into your sports watch behaving like a smartwatch, then there are definitely better options out there for you outside of the Pace 3. This is a watch that will let you view notifications, it just doesn’t present notifications in a really polished way.
Coros has now added a music player, which only works with MP3 files and doesn’t support offline playlist syncing with any music streaming services. You need to plug it into a computer and drag and drop files onto it. At the very least, it worked seamlessly with a bunch of wireless headphones including the newest version of the Apple AirPods Pro 2.
Where Coros makes things up with its lack of smartwatch smarts is focusing on making sure you can share data with third-party fitness apps. So you can connect the Coros app with Strava, Apple Health, Stryd, TrainingPeaks and Adidas Running if you’re not fully sold on Coros’ approach to presenting your data.
If you value a watch that can give you some smartwatch basics and focuses on being compatible with other major fitness platforms, then that’s what you get here.
- Dual frequency mode added
- Upgraded heart rate sensor
- Upload routes and breadcrumb navigation
If you want a watch that can track runs, swims, cycling, hikes, winter sports like skiing and also want something that can track indoor workouts like rowing, the Coros Pace 3 can do that.
It performs like a fitness tracker, while also monitoring sleep and offering automatic rep counting for strength training, but it feels like those features take a backseat to let those core sports tracking modes really shine.
Everything you got on the Pace 2 is here, and that still makes this a versatile multisports watch that definitely leans massively towards runners – especially when you consider the features that Coros has added here. The topline one is a new dual frequency mode to improve outdoor tracking, by tapping into L1 and L5 satellite bands to boost accuracy when tracking near tall buildings and trees. I used the Pace 3 in that more accurate mode with a Garmin Forerunner 965 on my other wrist, using its multiband mode. The Coros Pace 3’s dual frequency performed really well on the accuracy front.
Coros has introduced an upgraded version of its optical heart rate sensor technology, which also adds a pulse oximeter in the process to use when tracking at altitude. It’s the new heart rate sensor that stands out here and provides very accurate heart rate data during exercise, even at high intensity. You do also have the ability to pair external sensors via Bluetooth, though Coros has dropped the ANT+ connectivity support it did include on the Pace 2.
You won’t be short changed beyond the core metrics you’d expect a sports watch to fire out. Coros includes Evolab, a suite of metrics that delves into telling you how much training you’re putting in, whether you should take a rest day and predict how fast or slow you’ll be over a range of race distances. These features feel largely aimed at runners, though some will apply to those who don’t just spend their time doing long weekend runs.
Coros is also bringing the Pace 3 more in line with its Apex and Vertix watches by making its cheapest watch more useful when you want to go on a hike or want a better sense of your surroundings when exploring the great outdoors. You can upload routes from compatible third-party apps and from previous outdoor workouts and make use of breadcrumb-style navigation that works well on the whole, but definitely feels more accommodating on Coros watches with bigger screens. To find this kind of support on the Pace 3 only gives it added appeal.
- Up to 24 days in daily use
- 15 hours in top GPS accuracy mode
- Battery usage mode included
The Coros Pace 3 offers battery improvements across the board. So whether you want something that can last a week away from the charger and want plenty of GPS battery life, the Pace 3 performs very well.
Coros says you can enjoy up to 24 days in daily use, which is achievable if you’re not using features like music streaming and that dual frequency tracking mode. If you opt to use the standard GPS mode, battery jumps from 15 hours to 38 hours. That’s significantly more than midrange Garmin and Polar watches.
It’s a really solid performer that sees a similar battery drain to Garmin watches when you use music streaming and the top GPS accuracy modes. The difference is that the Pace 3 in comparison seems to demand less power outside of tracking compared to Polar and Garmin watches, which helps to make sure it can go longer.
Should you buy it?
You want an excellent value multisports watch
The Coros Pace 3 might sound like it’s just for runners, but there’s great tracking in store for swimmers, cyclists and general workout fans as well.
You want a great smartwatch and sports watch in one
While Coros has added in a music player, the Pace 3’s fitness tracking and smartwatch skills definitely take a bit of a back seat.
The Coros Pace 3 is the jewel in the Coros watch crown. It might not give you everything that Coros has to offer, but it gives you most of them to make sure it’s exceptionally good value for money.
New runners and those looking for an affordable, well-performing multisports watch will be very happy with what the Pace 3 delivers in design, performance and features. Check out our Best Running Watch Guide for more options.
How we test
We thoroughly test every fitness tracker we review. We use industry standard testing to compare features properly and we use the watch as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.
Worn as our main tracker during the testing period
Heart rate data compared against dedicated heart rate devices
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No, the Coros Pace 3 doesn’t work with Spotify. It does feature a MP3 player that allows you to sync MP3 files to listen to audio without needing your smartphone.
Yes, you can shower with the Coros Pace 3. The watch carries a 5ATM waterproof rating, which makes it safe to be used in water up to 50 metres depth.