Wire-free earbuds are becoming commonplace since the removal of the headphone jack from some smartphones. While Samsung has retained the headphone jack on their Galaxy devices, they still see the value in going wire-free. The first generation Samsung Gear IconX was a decent first attempt at jumping into the market. The new Samsung Gear IconX 2018 is here with some ommissions and improvements. Gone is the heart rate sensor but in place is a bigger battery and longer battery life. Read on for our full Samsung Gear IconX 2018 review.
The Samsung Gear IconX 2018 has the following features and specifications:
- Earbuds battery type: 82mAh Rechargeable Li-Ion
- Charging case battery type: 340 mAh Rechargeable Li-Ion
- Battery life
- Earbuds: Standalone Music Play Up to 7 hrs, Audio Streaming Up to 5 hrs
- Case: Number of recharges up to 2 times
- Sensors: Accelerometer, Proximity Sensor, touch controls
- Connectivity: Bluetooth v4.2
- Storage: 3.4GB up to 1,000 music tracks maximum
- Supported audio formats: MP3,M4A,AAC,WAV,WMA (WMA v9)
- Earbuds: 21.8 x 18.9 x 22.8 mm
- Case: 73.4 X 44.5 X 31.4 mm
- Weight: 8g per earbud and 54.5g for the case
- Warranty: 1 year
What’s In The Box
- Samsung Gear IconX 2018 Wireless Earbuds
- Charging Case
- USB Type-C Cable
- USB to Type-C adapter
- USB to Micro USB adapter
- 3 pairs of wingtips (S, M, L)
- 3 pairs of earbud tips (S, M, L)
- Quick start guide
- Documentation and warranty
The aesthetic look of the Samsung Gear IconX 2018 isn’t far off from their inaugural version and there are really only a few minor differences. The first being the removal of the heart rate sensor and the second being the removal of the gold trim around the outside. The basic teardrop shape is retained as are the wingtips and earbud tips.
Speaking of the wingtips, these are some of the most comfortable and best fitting wingtips I’ve used on a pair of earbuds. I found they snuggled nicely into my ear keeping the buds in place with zero issues. There are several different sizes to choose from so you can find the right fit for your ears.
The earbud tips look like your typical earbud tip, I will say they were very comfortable and produced a good seal when inserted into my ear.
Each earbud has two mics, one on top and one on the bottom. The sides of the earbuds are also a touchpad for gesture control. There is a sensor on the inside of each earbud that senses your touches on the touchpad.
The charging case is pill-shaped and lightweight, yet robust and premium feeling. It has two charging indicators in the front for the earbuds and one in the back for the case itself. The top release is on the front and the Type-C charging port is on the back along with the manual Bluetooth button.
Overall, the design is still really nice with some minor changes. I really like the black color Samsung sent along but they do also come in pink and gray.
Ease of Use
The Samsung Gear IconX 2018 are easiest to use when paired with a Galaxy device. The experience is much like setting up the Beats Studio3 on iOS, seamless and effortless. Most Galaxy devices will already have the Samsung Gear app installed already so no need to do that. Just open up the app, choose the device you have, in this case, the IconX 2018, and the app will search for them. Once it has found them, just confirm and you are paired.
The procedure was about the same on the Honor View10 except I had to download the Gear app as well as Samsung Health from Google Play. For iPhone users, you can pair via Bluetooth by pressing the Bluetooth button on the back and searching for Samsung Gear IconX in Bluetooth settings.
Overall, these are very easy to get paired up with any phone and super easy to use. We’ll go over the software and features later but the ease of use for those are equally as simple.
Before we move into what the Samsung Gear IconX 2018 sound like there is an important thing to remember when it comes to earbuds. You must find the optimal fit for your ears in order to get the best sound and performance from a pair of earbuds. Samsung provides 3 different earbud and wingtips so that you can get the best fit, test them all. Getting a good seal in the ear canal is going to be huge for sound quality.
That being said, the default earbud and wingtips installed on the IconX’s worked perfectly for me. Your best bet for a good fit is to treat earbuds as if they were earplugs. Lift up on the top of your ear a bit to open up the ear canal and insert the bud. It may take a twist or two to get that good seal but you really need to get that seal to enjoy the best sound.
Once I had the Samsung Gear IconX 2018’s in my ears properly, it was time to listen to some tunes. The Gear app provides an equalizer as well as an ambient sound mode, we’ll get into that more in the next section. Once you have your EQ set and everything the way you want it, these things sound really rich.
I found the sound to be well balanced with just a hint of favor to the bass frequencies. That is not a bad thing, I like a bit more bass but I also like the rest of the frequency range to be clear and clean. The IconX provides a great balance across the frequency range. Ambient Mode allows you to listen to music and phone calls but still keeping you aware of your surroundings.
Overall, I really enjoyed the sound the Samsung Gear IconX 2018’s produced. It was well-rounded with a slight tweak up on the bass frequencies. I like the built-in EQ in the app, it gives you some good options.
The Gear app was already pre-installed on my Galaxy S8+ making it super easy to connect to the IconX earbuds. It’s a very simple app to use with some nice features that are useful. The app shows you the battery life left in each earbud as well as which earbud is used for workout information gathering, the right earbud in my case. There is also a volume control, an equalizer, and Ambient Sound controls.
There is another section that shows what music you have stored onboard the IconX earbuds and gives you some control over that. You can also choose what source you want to play from, the phone or the buds. In order to use the accelerometer and proximity sensors for workouts, you’ll need to have the Samsung Health app installed. Again, the S8+ had this pre-installed so no problems.
I will be up front here, I don’t exercise much so I did not test the software or the buds in that capacity. I know last year’s IconX had some mixed reviews when it came to the heart rate monitor and maybe Samsung opted to keep it out this year and concentrate on battery and sound.
Jumping into settings in the Gear app you have the menu to transfer mp3s to your IconX when plugged into a PC. You’ll also find notifications, exercise options, Find My Gear, Touchpad instructions, and more. Speaking of the touchpad, here are the gestures you can perform with the touchpad:
- Single tap: Play/Pause music
- Double tap: Next track, answer/end call
- Triple tap: Previous track
- Swipe up/down: Volume up/down
- Tap & hold: Launch voice assistant, ambient sound mode, reject calls
- Double tap & hold: Next playlist
One irritating thing about the gesture controls on the Samsung Gear IconX 2018 is the accidental triggering when adjusting the earbuds. While it’s irritating, it is understandable that these things are pretty small so when you try and adjust them in your ears, you can sometimes trigger some of those gestures.
Ambient Sound is a nice feature for those who want to listen to music but still be aware of their surroundings. Perfect for an office setting or while running and biking so you can hear other things going on around you. This isn’t new technology, other competitors do this as well but it is a nice addition to have in case you need it.
Overall, the software is simple to use and many of the features are going to be useful depending on who you are and your needs.
Bluetooth reception is great on the Samsung Gear IconX 2018, connectivity was spot on. Connectivity between earbuds, as with most all wire-free earbuds, occasionally dropped out. When wire-free earbuds first came out this was a very big issue but OEM’s are making this less of a problem and I only experienced this a very small amount of times. Call quality was good, just about average for most any earbud or headphone used for calls. Overall, everything was as expected in these categories for the IconX.
One of the biggest differences between the previous version of the Samsung Gear IconX and this year’s version is the battery. Last year’s version only housed a 47mAh battery while this year’s packs in an 82mAh battery. That is nearly a 75% increase in battery size which brings with it an increase in battery life.
Last year’s IconX also had a heart rate monitor to contend with and these do not. The previous version was good for 1.5 hours of streaming and Samsung the new 2018 version are good for 5 hours of streaming and 7 hours of onboard playback. I did not test onboard playback as I don’t have mp3s anymore. I was able to get an average of 4.75 hours of streaming playback. That falls in line with Samsung’s specifications.
Overall, battery life was great with these earbuds and actually better than some other wire-free options. They’re most certainly an improvement over last year’s IconX.
The Samsung Gear IconX 2018 are priced competitively at $199.99USD. This falls into the same price point as a lot of other offerings. As of this review, Samsung and Amazon both are selling these at $159.99USD which is a great value and one you should get on if you’re even thinking about these.
The Samsung Gear IconX 2018 earbuds are the perfect compliment to your Samsung Galaxy device if you want some wire-free earbuds. They work super great with other Android phones too and pair up with iPhone just fine. They sound great and have a decent amount of battery life for wire-free earbuds. At the MSRP of $199.99USD they’re competitively priced but if you can snag them at the $159.99USD sale price they’re a must grab if you’re even thinking about them.
*We received a review unit of the Samsung Gear IconX 2018 for the purposes of this review.
Samsung Gear IconX 2018$199.99
Ease of Use9.5/10
- Nice attractive design
- Easy to setup on both Samsung and other Android devices
- Great sound, once you fit them properly
- Nice fit when you find the right ear tip
- Good battery life
- Competitively priced
- Heart rate monitor left out in this version
- Software is great on Samsung devices, may be annoying for other users
- Price is high at $199.99 but on sale for $159.99 is much better
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