Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3 — which should you buy?

Coros Pace 3 vs Garmin Forerunner 165
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The Garmin Forerunner 165 and Coros Pace 3 are two of the best sports watches available, with both offering great value and lightweight, comfortable designs. The Forerunner 165 is more aimed at runners, and sports a gorgeous AMOLED display that is brighter than the screen on the Pace 3, but results in the Garmin having shorter battery life than the Coros.

I’ve tested both watches extensively, including wearing both at the same time for several weeks to see which is the better sports watch overall, and I’ve picked out the key differences below. 

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3: Price and availability

The Coros Pace 3 launched in August 2023 and costs $229 / £219, so is cheaper than the Garmin Forerunner 165, which launched in February 2024 and costs $249.99 / £249.99 for the standard version of the watch and $299.99 / £289.99 for the Garmin Forerunner 165 Music.

Aside from the music feature, which allows you to store music on the watch and link up with streaming services Spotify, Amazon Music and Deezer, the Garmin Forerunner 165 Music is identical to the Forerunner 165.

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3: specs

Here are the key stats and features of the two watches compared.

Swipe to scroll horizontally
Row 0 - Cell 0 Garmin Forerunner 165Coros Pace 3
Size43 x 43 x 11.6mm41.9 x 41.9 x 11.7mm
Display size1.2in1.2in
Display resolution390x390 pixels AMOLED240x240 pixels LCD
Weight39g with silicone band39g with silicone band
Battery life11 days watch, 19 hours GPS15 days watch, 38 hours GPS
Dual-band GPSNoYes
Water resistance5ATM5ATM

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3: Design and display

You can get the Coros Pace 3 in six colors including the Emerald model I tested, and it comes with a choice of a nylon or silicone strap — the nylon band is lighter and more comfortable in my experience.

The standard Garmin Forerunner 165 comes in white or black, while the Forerunner 165 Music comes in four colors, including the Turquoise/Aqua model I tested. It comes with a silicone strap but you can swap this out for another 20mm band from Garmin or third-parties.

The brighter AMOLED display on the Forerunner 165 is certainly more impressive than the LCD screen of the Pace 3. Although the Pace 3’s screen is clear enough to read easily during workouts, the Forerunner 165’s is more vivid and easier to see in dappled light and under cloud cover, as well as being brighter indoors.

Both watches are small and very lightweight and comfortable to wear at all times, and the touchscreens on both respond quickly to touches without any lag. The Forerunner 165 has five buttons while the Coros Pace 3 has two, one of which is a digital dial. Both sets of controls are easy to use during workouts as well as general life.

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Both watches have plastic cases and strengthened glass screens, and while neither are as durable as pricier watches with metal cases and sapphire crystal or gorilla glass screens, neither watch is showing any scratches or signs of wear and tear after months of use.

One advantage the Garmin has is that it can connect to external sensors like chest strap heart rate monitors via both Bluetooth and ANT+, whereas the Coros only connects via Bluetooth. However, the Coros Pace 3 supports more external sensors, including cycling power meters, which the Forerunner 165 doesn’t support.

Overall I enjoyed using both watches and like the design of both, but the AMOLED screen puts the Garmin Forerunner 165 ahead in this category.

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3: Sports tracking and training analysis

Both the Coros Pace 3 and Garmin Forerunner 165 offer a comprehensive range of sports modes, including a dedicated track run mode, but only the Coros has a multisport mode for triathletes. This is something Garmin has reserved for its more expensive watches, starting with the Garmin Forerunner 255 and up.

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That gives the Coros an edge in sports tracking, and it can also show more stats per data screen during activities than the Forerunner 165, displaying up to six vs four on the Garmin. 

However, both have structured workout builders and you can send training plans for running to them from the partner apps and follow all the runs from your wrist. The Forerunner 165 goes one step further by offering suggested workouts for running each day based on your recent training.

The Pace 3 offers more extensive training analysis than the Garmin, with Coros giving it the same EvoLab analysis you get on its most expensive watches, including a breakdown of your training load.

While the Forerunner 165 does have some useful stuff including a VO2 max estimate and a recovery advisor, it doesn’t have a lot of the analysis you get on the best Garmin watches. I also found the Coros race predictor to be more accurate, though the VO2 max estimates I get from each watch are more accurate on the Garmin.

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3: GPS and heart rate accuracy

To gauge the accuracy of each watch I tested both against the Garmin Epix Pro connected to a Polar H10 heart rate monitor. In my experience the GPS on the Epix Pro in dual-band mode, and the heart rate tracking of the Polar H10, are as accurate as I’ve come across.

I also checked the GPS tracks produced by the Garmin Forerunner 165 and Coros Pace 3 to look for any notable errors, and ran a 10K race wearing both to see what distance they produced on a verified course.

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Both watches performed very well for GPS accuracy overall during the hundreds of miles of running I’ve done during testing, and in the 10K race they logged distances of 10.02km on the Garmin and 10.03km on the Coros, which is excellent.

Notably the Coros has a dual-band GPS mode, which is not available on the Forerunner 165, but it does have an all-systems-on GPS mode that has proved as good as dual-band in my testing.

They have both been good on heart rate accuracy for me too, mostly matching the results recorded by the Polar H10. However, during interval sessions where my heart rate spiked and dipped quickly, both watches sometimes struggled to spot these changes, and looking at the graphs of my heart rate afterwards I can see where they went wrong.

I would say this is a problem on both though, and not an area where either watch pulls ahead.

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3: Battery life

The AMOLED display on the Garmin Forerunner 165 comes at a cost, which is shorter battery life. Using both watches at the same time, I found the Coros would last me six to seven days, while the Garmin would last me three to four days.

This is with heavy use — notifications turned on for both, the always-on screen enabled on the Garmin, and running for at least an hour each day with the most accurate GPS mode enabled on each watch.

You can extend the battery life on both watches a lot by using the other GPS modes, and switching the Garmin screen to raise-to-wake rather than always-on, but whatever you do the Coros is always going to have the edge on battery life because of its less power-intensive screen.

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3: smart features

The Coros Pace 3 does have some useful smart features like notifications and a weather forecast widget, and turn-by-turn navigation using a breadcrumb trail during activities. It also offers music storage, but you have to drag and drop MP3 files onto the watch, which limits the feature a lot.

In contrast the music feature on the Garmin Forerunner 165 is much better, because you can link the watch with premium accounts for Spotify, Deezer and Amazon Music and wirelessly sync your playlists over.

The Forerunner 165 also offers contactless payments through Garmin Pay, and has access to Garmin’s Connect IQ app store, which has more watch faces and some useful apps. You can also follow breadcrumb trails with turn-by-turn navigation on the watch.

Neither play the part of a proper smartwatch like the Apple Watch SE, but the Forerunner 165 is certainly the smarter of the two watches, and it also has a smartwatch-style AMOLED display.

Garmin Forerunner 165 vs Coros Pace 3: Verdict

I rate both the Garmin Forerunner 165 and Coros Pace 3 very highly and would say either could work for you depending on what your priorities are. The Coros Pace 3 stands out as the better pick for triathletes, as well as those who value long battery life and extensive training analysis highly, while the Garmin Forerunner 165 is a more attractive watch to wear and use all the time, and has better smart features.

The Coros Pace 3 is the cheaper watch, but not by much and in my experience Coros rarely puts its devices on sale, whereas discounts on Garmins are common, so you might be able to pick up the Forerunner 165 at a similar price during sales events like Black Friday.

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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.