Samsung Gear IconX Review Facts
Although they are mostly known now for their line of high-end Android smartphones, Samsung has been in the consumer electronics business for quite some time. They’ve made forays into many different avenues of product design and development, ranging from televisions to soundbars to laptops and tablets. They’ve even begun to dip their toes into cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality with their impressive Gear VR headset. However, one of their product lines that doesn’t receive nearly as much attention as it deserves is their headphones.
With all of the expertise that comes with decades of experience in the industry, it makes sense that Samsung would develop their headphones with the same care and attention to quality that they’ve shown with their smartphones. In fact, some of the features provided by the Samsung Gear IconX are reminiscent to those commonly found with modern smart devices. Aside from that, however, these wireless earbuds offer a bevy of core benefits that make them among the best wireless music listening devices for individuals with an active lifestyle.
Since these are wireless earbuds, the design of the Samsung Gear IconX is extremely minimalist and low-profile. The complete absence of any wires or bands means that they function like earplugs and are securely fastened to the inside of the wearer’s ears. With such a simplistic and unobtrusive design, the variety of activities wearers can comfortably engage in is vast. For starters, jogging or running is easily managed due to the secure fit that will prevent these buds from shifting during movement. This same feature allows the Gear IconX to be compatible with other forms of exercise, such as weight training, cross-training, or gymnastics. In fact, one particular feature offered by this product that makes them even more versatile than many of its competitors it that they can even be used to listen to music or podcasts without connecting to a smartphone. Unfortunately, one area of activity where these earbuds won’t be compatible is any that involve exposure to water
, since there seems to be no form of water or sweat resistance added to its design.
Since these are headphones, the most basic feature offered by the Samsung Gear IconX is the ability to listen to audio in a portable and private manner. These are ideal for use with a smartphone since they are designed to connect wirelessly via Bluetooth to the user’s audio player of choice. These headphones are completely absent of any cordage whatsoever, which means that they are able to provide a conveniently ergonomic
design but will require a battery charge in order to function. They also offer functionality with a smart device; wearers can manipulate different features on their smartphones or tablets with different swipes and taps on either bud in order to adjust the volume, accept calls, and access additional menus. When boiled down to its essence, the Samsung Gear IconX is a pair of earbuds that provide an easy and unobtrusive audio listening experience.
There are many more advanced features provided by the Samsung Gear IconX that not only set them apart from traditional headphones and earbuds but also set them apart from other wireless earbuds with smart capabilities. For starters, these earbuds can stream music without connecting to any listening device by storing audio files locally. These files can be transferred to the IconX through a computer via USB or wirelessly through a phone, provided they are using a Samsung phone that runs Android 4.4 KitKat or newer. With around 4 gigabytes of local storage, these earbuds can locally store roughly 1,000 songs.
Should the user of these earbuds decide to use them with a smart device anyway, they offer some advanced functionality with these devices as well. Pressing and holding one of the buds will allow users to speak with their smart assistant of choice, whether it’s Apple’s Siri, Samsung’s Bixby, or Android’s Google Voice. A smartphone app with the same name can also be used to fine-tune the audio output to bolster certain sound frequencies or limit others, and can even be used to adjust the amount of outside noise that bleeds through. Users of Samsung phones can even sync these earbuds with their S-Health app in order to track their exercise progress through a pedometer, heart rate tracker, and other features. Some of these features can be found in other wireless earbuds, but nowhere else can they all be found in one product.
The sound quality provided by these earbuds is optimal for its intended purpose. They won’t provide the same level of range and fidelity that can be derived from studio monitoring headphones or over-ear cup headphones in general, but the Samsung Gear IconX offers some extremely impressive audio clarity for a pair of earbuds. Many individuals take umbrage with the use of Bluetooth for wireless functionality since it can cause audio to distort or stutter if there is some form of signal interference. However, the ability to listen to music locally without connecting to another device completely eliminates this problem.
Finally, the Samsung Gear IconX companion app allows for an impressive amount of adjustment options for audiophiles
looking to tweak their listening experience for the maximum level of quality. With the option to manually adjust an equalizer or choose from several presets, these earbuds will allow even the pickiest music snobs to find their ideal balance. The ability to tune the level of background noise that can be heard while listening to these earbuds is a nice feature as well since it allows the wearer to switch easily between audio clarity and awareness of their surroundings.
Bluetooth is a polarizing technology. The good thing about Bluetooth is that it allows for compatibility with a wide range of devices since just about every modern smart device will offer some form of support for this nearly universal form of wireless communication. Because of this widespread adoption, the Samsung Gear IconX can connect to a wide array of products, ranging from Apple to Android to Microsoft to all sorts of third parties. The downside to Bluetooth as a sole form of connectivity is that it tends to be a power
hog, both for the headphones themselves and for the devices that connect to them. Additionally, Bluetooth connections can suffer from interference if there are multiple devices in the same area or if the distance between connected devices is too great.
The Samsung Gear IconX suffers from a soft bottleneck in terms of quality and battery life because of this sole form of connectivity. However, the reason why this bottleneck is soft is that smart users can bypass this feature entirely by using the IconX’s local audio storage functionality exclusively. With this feature, the need for Bluetooth connectivity, or any form of connectivity whatsoever, is eliminated, improving both sound quality and battery life.
Any form of in-ear headphones are going to be at a disadvantage in terms of comfort when compared to over-the-ear cup style headphones. The fact that they must be placed inside the wearer’s ear means that they will cause discomfort
over a shorter period of time; furthermore, some individuals with particularly sensitive ears will feel discomfort almost immediately and won’t be able to wear this form of headphones at all. For what it’s worth, many customers who have left their thoughts online regarding the Samsung Gear IconX say that it feels very comfortable in their ears. Additionally, the package for this product comes with different sizes of ear tips which can better suit different sizes of ears. At the end of the day, however, these aren’t the ideal choice for anyone looking for comfort above all other attributes, since even the most comfortable earbuds won’t hold a candle to the most comfortable headphones.
The one word that can be used to most accurately summarize the Samsung Gear IconX’s sense of style is stealthy. With the complete absence of cordage or any kind of band between the buds, these listening devices have a very low profile. When fastened to the wearer’s head, these buds can easily blend in, especially if the wearer has long hair. At first glance, a casual observer would most likely mistake these earbuds for some kind of hearing aid or an ordinary pair of earplugs. The exception to this is if the customer chooses a different color scheme when ordering this product since it comes in a few other bright colors besides the standard black. These additional colorways offer a bit more variety and style, but they pale in comparison to the variety of stylistic choices provided by Beats
or other fashion-focused music listening devices.
Despite their small size, the Samsung Gear IconX is surprisingly durable. According to many customers, these earbuds were able to continue functioning even when being knocked out of their ears or accidentally stepped on. For the most part, it seems as though customers should be more worried about misplacing these buds over breaking them. That doesn’t mean that they are invincible, however; there have also been many cases where customers state that one or both of these buds stopped working, mainly due to excessive sweat or moisture. Yes, unfortunately, the Samsung Gear IconX is absent of one feature that many other modern smart headphones and earbuds provide: water resistance. Although some listings may provide the dubious claim that these earbuds are IP67 water resistant, verified reviewers will attest that the opposite is true. Additionally, the manufacturer’s website makes no mention of this feature, so it should be taken with a grain of salt.
Ease of Use
Any wireless music listening device, whether headphones or earbuds, is going to be at a disadvantage in terms of accessibility based on the fact that it can’t connect to listening devices via an analog headphone jack. Instead, they will require some form of wireless technology such as Bluetooth or NFC, which will entail a pairing process and electric charge. The Samsung Gear IconX attempts to make these aspects of its use as painless as possible by using the near-ubiquitous Bluetooth format of wireless connectivity and including a charge port built into its carrying case. And while these features do mitigate the inconvenience of these design aspects to a degree, they remain less intuitive to traditional forms of connectivity regardless.
One major aspect of the IconX’s design that offers greater convenience than any traditional pair of headphones, however, is its local storage. With the ability to place music or audio files directly onto the earbuds instead of piped through a connected device, these effectively become the smallest MP3 players on the market. Anyone who uses a Samsung device will have even greater accessibility since they can transfer these files wirelessly from their phone as well as through a computer via USB cable.
The consequence of the Samsung Gear IconX’s bevy of impressive features, such as wireless connectivity and local music storage, is that it needs to carry a charge in order to function. Much like most other modern smart devices, these earbuds are charged via Micro USB and can be connected to a computer, smartphone, or wall outlet in order to recharge. For added convenience, Samsung designed the IconX’s carrying case to double as a charging dock, which makes it significantly easier to charge them on the go. When these earbuds are connected to a compatible music player, they offer an average battery life of around 5 hours according to Samsung’s official product page.
When not connected to any product and simply playing off its local storage, this play time increases to around 7 hours. This is decent but not extremely impressive, although it does seem more impressive when considering how many features can be accessed with this much battery life. The lack of a physical power button or any kind of standby mode limits the longevity of a single charge, but the fact that 10 minutes of charging can provide one hour of playtime is a nice compromise.
When shopping for a pair of wireless headphones or earbuds, the average price range is around $150 to $200. Anything in that range is considered acceptable by the market, with the expectation being that something with this price offers above-average sound quality and functionality. When considering all of the features and functions the Samsung Gear IconX provides, however, the price for which it is listed seems quite low despite the fact that it sits squarely in this acceptable range. This results in an exceptionally good deal for the consumer, since all of these features might otherwise only be available in extremely high-end headphones from a company like Beats or Bose and could cost well over $300. In comparison, these earbuds seem like a steal for their current price.
- No cords or bands connecting the earbuds
- Wireless connectivity via Bluetooth
- Up to 4GB of local audio storage
- Battery life of 4 to 8 hours
- Extra features for Samsung users
- Different sizes of wingtips and ear buds
Even if you don’t use a Samsung smartphone, there are so many amazing features provided by the Gear IconX. They can provide an unparalleled listening experience and are compatible with an intense exercise routine to a degree that is difficult to match by any other similarly designed product. It’s true that the battery life and water resistance of this Samsung accessory leaves a lot to be desired, but it’s also true that there simply aren’t any other wireless earbuds that offer the same experience as these on the market. Fans of Samsung, form-factor earbuds or portable music players, in general, would strongly benefit from picking up a pair of the Gear IconX.