The first Gear IconX weren’t very good wireless earbuds. While it was a good first attempt on Samsung’s part at a pair of wireless earbuds, the original IconX had limited battery life, not to mention other niggling issues like iffy wireless performance.
Well, after spending some time with the new Samsung Gear IconX (2018), Samsung definitely managed to solve many of the original model’s issues. On top of that, the new IconX also brings with it a whole suite of other improvements.
What Is It?
On the surface, not much has changed with the new Gear IconX. It still sports mainly the same design as its predecessor, and of course, it’s still a pair of completely wireless earbuds. Most of the changes are actually under the hood, including much, much better battery life, and improved wireless performance. Just like its predecessor, the new Gear IconX comes with a case that doubles as the charger too.
There are two ways to listen to your favourite tunes on the Gear IconX: you can either stream to the earbuds via Bluetooth, or you could transfer music files to the IconX’s 4GB internal storage. Depending on which mode you’re in, the battery life will be different – Samsung said users can expect to get about seven hours of usage in standalone mode, and five hours if the IconX is streaming over Bluetooth.
Is It Any Good?
As far as wireless earbuds go, the Gear IconX works wonderfully well. While the audio quality isn’t incredible, it’s more than adequate to enjoy my favourite music while I’m working out. The fit is quite snug too, so I’m confident the earbuds won’t fall off even in the most rigorous of workouts.
Aside from that, I absolutely love the Ambient Sound Mode on the Gear IconX. I can hear what’s going on around me, and it’s especially useful – and important, safety-wise – when I’m out for a run at public places like a park.
And then we have one of the most impressive features of the 2018 Gear IconX: its battery life. On average, I can get about four to five hours of usage in streaming mode, which is pretty darn close to Samsung’s claimed battery life. If you’re in a pinch, 10 minutes of charging with the case (yes, it’s capable of quick charging) gives enough juice for about an hour of usage – very useful.
Another feature that I find rather fun to use is the Running Coach function. Once activated, it can give you simple instructions, detect whether you’re walking or jogging, track how long you’ve been running, and interestingly, it can even detect the distance you’ve run. I got on a treadmill to see how the IconX’s tracked distance compare, and it’s surprisingly accurate.
The Bad Stuff. Tell Me.
Although the Gear IconX fits quite snugly in my ears, its noise isolation could’ve been better. I’ve tried the different tip sizes bundled with the wireless earbuds, but none of them managed to really block out ambient noise. Of course, the fit will differ from one person to another, so this may not even be an issue to other users.
Another oddity I faced with the Gear IconX is occasional audio dropout. Sometimes, either one of the earbuds will stop outputting audio for a short while, which can get pretty annoying after some time. However, this doesn’t happen very frequently, so I can’t say for certain if this is an isolated issue.
I’m also not a fan of the Gear IconX’s pill-shaped charging case. It isn’t a dealbreaker by any stretch, and it fits in my pockets just fine, of course, but it would’ve been more pocket-friendly if it was flatter. Because of this, I rather keep it in my backpack most of the time.
Should I Buy It?
The Gear IconX (2018) is a well-rounded pair of wireless earbuds. Its battery life has improved immensely, it has decent audio quality, and it comes with features consumers may find useful. My only real issue with the IconX lies in its noise isolation (or lack thereof), but it’s worth noting that some users may not face the same issue.
At RM799, the new Gear IconX is not the most affordable pair of wireless earbuds, but it’s certainly a very good one. If you’re looking to upgrade from a pair of wired earphones, the IconX is definitely worth looking into.
Photography by Soh Li Jin and Leon Lam.