The Samsung Gear IconX headphones are entirely wireless and Bluetooth ‘light’ earbuds.
They offer many highly innovative “smart” features like:
- A built-in 4gb music player,
- an independent exercise tracker,
- and a heart rate monitor for fitness and exercise purposes.
The Gear IconX also features industrial grade coating for sweat resistance and comes with a carrying case. Lastly, IconX comes in three colors: black, white, and blue. [Here, I’ll review the black colored earbuds.]
Samsung Gear IconX Features:
- Measures at 25.9mm x 19.5mm x 17.9 mm — making them slightly smaller than the average product in this category.
- Weighs six grams making them the smallest “smart-earbuds” on the market.
- Each headset comes with two microphones which can be used to make or receive phone calls.
- USB 2.0 compatible.
Samsung Gear IconX Pros:
- 3.5gb actual storage space — which allows for phone-free listening
- Bluetooth connection is very easy and quick
- Auto power-on once inside the ear
- Attractive and sleek design
- Very light
Samsung Gear IconX Cons:
- Battery life is way too short (Max 1 hour 30 minutes talk time, less than 3 hours of music play)
- Inconsistent controls that need practice and patience
- Clicking the earphone to control it hurts your ear
- Low volume, especially when used in conjunction with the smartphone app and for certain types of music
- Low sound when taking phone calls, other party can hardly hear you, while background noise is a pain
Attractive And Functional Design
The aesthetic design of the Samsung Gear iconX is highly sleek and elegant. Those observing a user of the Gear IconX will hardly notice them at all—especially without any wires flowing from the ears. Rubber wingtips encircle the Gear IconX—providing a space for operating the Gear IconX without using the touch-sensitive surface that comes with the device—and prevents accidental track skipping. In other words, when comparing this product to products in this category, it really seems like the manufacturer has put quite a bit of time and effort into the overall look, feel, and functionality of the Gear IconX.
However, there are some problems with the earbuds. The first of which is that it sometimes will produce a lot of heat. This is a rare occurrence but happens enough to mention here. In addition, the battery will only last a couple hours and it seems to charge sporadically—sometimes it charges in less than an hour, other times it feels like it can take all day. Another problem is that sometimes the device can be destroyed if used in the rain. Even though the Gear IconX is coated for water-resistance, the seams in the plastic are slightly loose and therefore not entirely waterproof.
MP3 Player And Exercise Tracking
The Gear IconX makes use of controls that are touch sensitive and work to manipulate the software. A couple of nice features this Player provides are the “simple tap playability” and the ease with which the touchpad can be controlled by sliding your finger on the interface. Also, other features like the controllable sound environment and language controls are quite nice.
Otherwise, this device can be defined as a standalone mp3 player and not simply a Bluetooth device. In other words, the Gear IconX will work independently without the need for a smartphone app or any other software. In addition, there are two ways to move MP3s onto the device: USB transfer from Mac or PC manager or transfer via your smartphone. The second option will require an Android device with at least 1.5GB of RAM.
Moving your MP3 files to the Samsung Gear IconX is tricky. See, you slide your 2 earbuds into their case, close its cover, and connect the USB cable to your PC. What happens next is your PC detects 2 devices and not one. You have a left and right flash drive. When you copy a song file, you need to do that twice, one to the right and one to left. Failing to do so will result in the MP3 file being played from one earbud only (a.k.a. mono). You can’t organize your music files by folders or playlists though. Just shuffle or straight play is the option of the day.
The Gear IconX will automatically monitor your heart rate and provide real-time statistics on any athletic or other sporting activities. This is accomplished through the Samsung Gear App—which doesn’t require the purchase of any other external Samsung product. Well, truth be told, it requires an Android based phone to avail the Health S services. No luck for iPhones here.
The Samsung Gear IconX does allow you to use other third party exercise app—such as apps that monitor heart rate. However, there are some exercise and heart rate monitor apps that the device is not compatible with. This is because many apps themselves aren’t designed to be third party compatible. So, you’ll need to read the fitness app description carefully before purchasing or downloading any app.
Alarming enough, I read many user reviews on Amazon where owners complained that the earbuds don’t sit inside the ear while running or exercising. Seems mortals with small ears should steer away from it. Those with a big ones, complained that running a 3 mile stretch with a full charge IconX will end with dead earbuds. Finally, I’m not a doctor, but I doubt the heart rate monitor is anything but accurate.
Battery life is… miserable but with many workarounds. Maximum you can do when connected via Bluetooth is 90 minutes before the need to recharge. The time needed for a full charge is around 90-120 minutes, for a brand new IconX. To remedy this shortcoming, Samsung fitted the small charging case with a little battery as well. The case is claimed to be able to recharge the buds for 3 times, when the case itself is fully charged. Time needed for charging the case various, depending on whether the buds are in the case or not.
Some users opt to use one earbud, then when it’s dead, wear the second one to double the longevity of the device. When you use it for playing music without using Bluetooth, it double to 3 hours each. Not good in my book.
Last con of the case is that you need to keep it open, because if you don’t, it will keep truing to recharge the inserted earbuds. Ironically, closing the lid on the buds will deplete the buds, rendering them flat dead. When I tried keeping the case open, in my pocket, the buds fell out, collecting dust, and getting closer to being lost.
The Samsung Gear IconX will function without the additional installation of any software. However, in order to get the most use from them, Samsung provides the gear companion app for use with your smartphone—designed to be used with Android or with iPhone. The app can be found under the /Tools folder on the earbuds when connected via the USB port as a flash drive. The app is intuitively designed and very easy to use. But there are some shortcomings, the app will not allow you to equalize the audio output.
Secondly, there just isn’t much volume output on the device when used in conjunction with a smartphone. Also, there is no device option to manipulate tonality (i.e. treble, bass).
The Bottom Line
Especially for the price (~$200), this is a great product and—if you’re exhausted by wires—this could be a perfect headphone solution for you, especially if the exercise features appealed to you. As was already mentioned, there are some problems with the device. However, the Samsung Gear IconX is a highly unique innovation in headphone design and is sure to excite many users towards purchase. Moreover, I can’t wait for the upcoming models of the IconX, which – hopefully – will have more features and longer battery-life.
Read also: Samsung Gear S2 Classic Smartwatch Review