Coros Pace 3 review: A great value sports watch for runners and triathletes

The Pace 3 offers a lot of bang for your buck

Coros Pace 3 running watch
(Image: © Future)

Tom's Guide Verdict

The Coros Pace 3 is a great value sports watch for runners and triathletes, offering accurate and insightful tracking and long battery life, along with useful extras like breadcrumb navigation and training analysis.


  • +

    Reliable sports tracking

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    Very lightweight

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    Good battery life


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    No support for music streaming services

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    All-plastic design won’t suit everyone

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    No ANT+ support

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Display Size: 1.2 inches
Resolution: 240 x 240
Weight:  30g (nylon band), 39g (silicone band)
Water resistance: 5 ATM
GPS battery life: 38 hours (GPS-only), 15 hours (multi-band)
Connectivity: Bluetooth

The Coros Pace 3 is one of the best sports watches you can get, offering a raft of excellent features in a lightweight and small design that’s comfortable to wear 24/7. It’s also terrific value given the array of features it has, and undercuts rivals like the Garmin Forerunner 255 and Garmin Forerunner 165 on MSRP.

While it’s not the smartest watch and the all-plastic design lacks the style of the best smartwatches, the Coros Pace 3 is an option all runners and triathletes should consider in particular. 

Coros Pace 3 review: price and availability

The Coros Pace 3 launched in August 2023 and costs $229 / £219, which is a $30 / £40 rise on the price of the Coros Pace 2 but still makes it one of the cheaper multisport watches available. You can buy the Pace 3 from Coros direct, along with third-party retailers.

Coros Pace 3 review: design and display

Coros Pace 3 running watch

(Image credit: Future)

The Coros Pace 3 comes in six colors, with emerald, violet and mist options added to the range in May 2024 to go alongside black, white and red watches. You can choose between a nylon or silicone band and it’s easy to change the 22mm bands on the watch. 

I preferred using a nylon band with the watch, which makes it even lighter on the wrist — it’s 30g with a nylon band and 39g with a silicone band. The case has a diameter of 41.9mm and is just 11.7mm thick, and the Pace 3 is very comfortable and lightweight to wear at all times.

The memory-in-pixel touchscreen is 1.2-inches, and while it’s not as bright as an AMOLED display, I found it clear to read in all conditions. The screen is made from mineral glass and the case is fiber-reinforced polymer. There are two buttons on the watch, one of which is a dial, and you can navigate the menus using either the touchscreen or the buttons.

On the underside of the watch is an optical heart rate sensor, with other sensors on the watch including a pulse oximeter to measure blood oxygen saturation, and a barometric altimeter to measure elevation. You can also link to external sensors like heart rate chest straps using Bluetooth, but not ANT+.

Coros Pace 3 review: sports tracking and training analysis

Coros Pace 3 running watch

(Image credit: Future)

The Pace 3 has sports modes for all of the most common activities, and you can also create your own custom mode or use the catch-all GPS-Cardio or Gym-Cardio modes if your preferred sport isn't listed.

It has a multisport mode for triathletes, along with an open-water swimming mode, and a track run mode for extra accuracy when you’re running in circles. You can customize the data screens for each sports mode, showing up to eight stats, and it’s easy to create interval workouts on the watch itself or in the partner app so you can follow them on your wrist. 

The training analysis is powered by Coros’s EvoLab and is the same as you get on all Coros watches, including the Coros Vertix 2S which is much more expensive. This gives you a breakdown of your weekly training load, plus a longer term analysis of your training vs fitness level to help you judge if you’re doing too much, or too little, with the aim of getting fitter.

There is also a recovery advisor and a race time predictor, with the latter proving more accurate for me than the same feature on Garmin and Polar watches. Garmin watches in particular offer more training insights, though Garmin’s best features on this front are reserved for its most expensive watches.

Coros Pace 3 running watch

(Image credit: Future)

I don’t like the way Coros’s weekly training load resets every Monday, instead of being a rolling graph that shows the last seven days, which is more useful for judging your recent efforts. The VO2 max estimate is also way off for me, which is surprising given the relatively accurate race predictions.

However, the Pace 3 on the whole does a great job on sports tracking and training analysis, and offers more than most in its price range, especially as it’s a full multisport watch for triathletes, unlike cheaper Garmin Forerunners like the Forerunner 55 and Forerunner 165, which are more focused on running.

Coros Pace 3 review: GPS and heart rate performance

Coros Pace 3 running watch

(Image credit: Future)

To gauge the accuracy of the Coros Pace 3’s GPS chip and heart rate sensor I tested it against a Garmin Epix Pro for GPS and a Polar H10 chest strap for heart rate. I’ve tested a lot of watches and heart rate monitors and consider these to be as accurate as I’ve come across for sports use.

The Coros Pace 3 has a multi-band GPS tracking mode, which uses multiple satellite systems through two frequencies and is more power intensive but an upgrade in accuracy on the GPS-only mode.

I’ve run hundreds of miles with the watch and I’ve been impressed with the GPS accuracy, with the pacing and distance stats being very similar to the Garmin Epix Pro (also in multi-band mode), and when I compared the tracks of the two watches afterwards the Coros Pace 3 didn’t show any big errors like cutting corners.

I’ve also been impressed by the heart rate sensor. I usually find that even the best running watches struggle on this front, and often the most expensive watches are also the largest and heaviest, which in my experience leads to poor heart rate readings on the wrist.

However, the Pace 3 has mostly matched up with the Polar H10 chest strap’s readings during my runs. I was testing the Pace 3 during warm conditions, where optical readings are usually better than in cold weather, but even so it was impressively accurate.

There were still some erroneous spikes in the readings during workouts though, and as someone who uses heart rate to guide my training at times I would still probably link an armband or chest strap sensor to the Pace 3. This is also important if you use the training analysis on the watch, which relies on the heart rate readings from workouts to just your training load.

Coros Pace 3 review: activity and sleep tracking

Coros Pace 3 running watch

(Image credit: Future)

The Coros Pace 3 logs your steps, active minutes, active calories burned and floors climbed throughout the day, and you can display all this information on the various watch faces available. You can see graphs showing the last sevens days for each of these metrics on the watch, and change your active calories goal within the partner app.

When comparing the Pace 3 to devices from other brands I find that the step counts tend to be lower on the Coros, and while I can’t say for sure which watches are giving the right total, my instinct is that the Coros count is a bit low — it’s often 1000-2000 steps under what other brands give me on an active day with a run.

The watch will also track your sleep and measure your heart rate variability each night, comparing the latter to your baseline and flagging up if it’s outside your normal range. If it is this can be an indication that your body is fighting illness or is under stress in some other way and you might want to scale back the intensity of your workout. The Pace 3 does not use the HRV readings to give any kind of readiness rating though, unlike Garmin.

In contrast to the conservative step counts, the sleep tracking is quite generous on the watch. I noted many occasions where it logged me as in light sleep when I was awake, either reading in bed or tending to a crying baby. The overall sleep durations are inflated on the watch as a result, but not by a huge amount, and the watch was usually good at spotting when I fell asleep.

Coros Pace 3 review: battery life

Coros Pace 3 running watch

(Image credit: Future)

As with all Coros watches, the battery life on the Pace 3 is impressive, with the listed stats having it lasting 15 days in watch mode and offering 38 hours of GPS tracking, which drops to 15 hours if using the more accurate multi-band GPS setting. 

I used multi-band mode for all my outdoor workouts and ran every day with the Pace 3, and it still lasted me five to six days on a charge, which is excellent for heavy use with such a small watch. It’s also easy to extend the life further by using the other GPS settings, and in between workouts the battery drains much more slowly than with other brands. 

Coros Pace 3 review: smart features

The Coros Pace 3 is a sports watch first and foremost and lacks the AMOLED display of a smartwatch, and doesn’t have access to an app store. It does have some smart features though, with basics like notification support and a weather forecast app, along with music storage.

However, the music storage is only for files that you drag and drop onto the watch, and only MP3 files are supported at the moment. If you use a streaming service for music then this system isn’t much use, whereas with Garmin watches with music Spotify, Amazon Music and Deezer are all supported.

Should you buy the Coros Pace 3?

Coros Pace 3 running watch

(Image credit: Future)

If you’re looking for a no-frills multisport watch that does the essentials of tracking and training analysis very well, the Coros Pace 3 is an excellent option. It’s not the best-looking device, but the lightweight plastic watch has a certain charm, and the new ‘Retro’ colors including the emerald watch are more appealing, and it’s outstanding value.

Your top alternatives are the Garmin Forerunner 165 and Garmin Forerunner 255, both of which are more expensive at MSRP but often in sales, especially the Forerunner 255 because it is an older watch. 

The Forerunner 255 is also a multisport with dual-band GPS tracking and a memory-in-pixel display, and it has better smart features and training analysis than the Pace 3. While the Forerunner 165 is not a triathlon watch, it is a good alternative to the Pace 3 for people who want a sports watch with an AMOLED display.

However, the Forerunner 165 doesn’t have dual-band GPS tracking, but it has proved similarly accurate to the Coros Pace 3 in my side-by-side testing, and it has better smart features along with its more attractive design.

Nick Harris-fry
Senior Writer

Nick Harris-fry is an experienced health and fitness journalist, writing professionally since 2012. He spent nine years working on the Coach magazine and website before moving to the fitness team at Tom’s Guide in 2024. Nick is a keen runner and also the founder of YouTube channel The Run Testers, which specialises in reviewing running shoes, watches, headphones and other gear.

Nick ran his first marathon in 2016 after six weeks of training for a magazine feature and subsequently became obsessed with the sport. He now has PBs of 2hr 27min for the marathon and 15min 30sec for 5K, and has run 13 marathons in total, as well as a 50-mile ultramarathon.

He runs 50-80 miles a week and races regularly with his club, which gives him a lot of opportunity to test out running gear: he has tested and reviewed hundreds of pairs of running shoes, as well as fitness trackers, running watches, sports headphones, treadmills, and all manner of other kit. Nick is also a qualified Run Leader in the UK.