With the Gear IconX, Samsung hoped to take on Apple in the wireless earbuds game. While the 2016 Gear IconX had a tons of features, they just couldn’t match up to the AirPods. Since then AirPods have seen some improvements and this year Samsung is out with Gear IconX (2018) earbuds, which we are currently reviewing.
In India, the Samsung Gear IconX is likely to be a Flipkart exclusive as indicated by the #OnlyOnFlipkart tag added to the product on the e-commerce website. You can get notified when the Gear IconX goes on sale in India at this link. The Gear IconX has a price tag of Rs 13,490 in India, as per the Flipkart listing.
But before we get to the full review, we thought we could give you our first impressions of the Gear IconX (2018) after using it overnight.
Samsung Gear IconX (2018) Specifications
The Samsung Gear IconX (2018) does not have a heart rate sensor but has top-notch hardware in every other regard. Here’s a look at the specs:
|Device||Samsung Gear IconX (2018)|
|Colors||Black, Gray, Pink|
|Dimensions||Earbud: 18.9 (W) x 21.8 (D) x 22.8 (H) mm
Case: 73.4 (W) x 44.5 (D) x 31.4 (H) mm
|Weight||Earbud: 8.0g per earbud / Case: 54.5g|
|Voice Guide||English, Chinese, German, French, Spanish, Korean, Italian, Russian and Japanese|
|Speaker||5.8pi Dynamic Driver
|Storage||4GB (per earbud)|
|Sensors||Accelerometer, IR, Capacitive Touch|
Charging Case: 340mAh
|Battery life||Up to 7 hours (Standalone Mode)
Up to 5 hours (Bluetooth Mode)
Up to 4 hours (Talk Time)
|Charging||USB 2.0 Type-C
|Compatibility||Android 4.4 +, RAM 1.5 GB or above
iOS supports music streaming and hands-free controls only via Bluetooth
The first thing you need to know about these truly wireless earbuds is that they are heavily reliant on Samsung smartphones.
For other Android phones, Samsung requires some workarounds such as installing the Samsung Gear app, plugins (for phones running Android 8.1) and then a Samsung Health app for the fitness-tracking features. It pairs just fine using the regular Bluetooth method, but that has its drawbacks as we will see.
That’s three apps for a pair of earphones on a typical non-Samsung Android phone. Forget about using these on Android P beta since the Samsung Gear app simply does not open on Android P. Thankfully we had a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 to test out the full capabilities of the Gear IconX (2018).
The earbuds come in a cradle which is shaped like a pill, not unlike the old Samsung home button on the Galaxy flagship phones. The cradle also acts as a charger for the IconX (2018) and has LED indicators to tell you the battery level of each earbud as well as the cradle. It also has a Bluetooth button which helps you pair the earbuds when you first take them out of the box. The cradle also has a USB Type-C port for charging, so you can charge both the cradle and earbuds simultaneously.
The earbuds themselves sink into the cradle thanks to magnetic POGO pin connectors, and out-of-the-box Samsung has added the mid-sized rubber tips and wingtips. You get three sizes in the box to pick and choose the right fit.
Overall, the Gear IconX (2018) does not look very different from the first-gen model, and build quality feels good if not as reassuring as a pair of AirPods, and the soft rubberized exterior makes wearing them a pleasure. We’ll go over the comfort and fit factor in our full review.
Based just off a few hours of usage, I can safely say that the Gear IconX (2018) has some amazing sound, when it’s paired with the Samsung Gear app and using its equalizer.
In fact, when I first paired them with a Pixel 2 XL running Android P Beta, the sound was flat, instrumentation sounded tinny and there was barely bass to speak of. Once the Gear IconX are synced with the Samsung Gear app, everything changes.
Immediately after being paired with the app, the headphones have crisp sound, with rich bass and very robust treble. The mids were well-balanced, especially when you choose the Balanced preset in the equalizer. We will be testing the sound quality in depth for our full review.
Having said that, we have no doubt that the Gear IconX can be a capable workout companion as they are very good for high BPM music and genres that prioritize lows. We would obviously be testing other use-cases on the Icon X (2018), such as gaming, using the mic for voice assistant and for calls. Our review should clear up any debate on the sound quality, which is already impressive based on just a few hours usage.
The Gear IconX (2018) also automatically adjust the volume for ambient noise, if you keep this feature on in the settings in the Gear app. In addition, the Gear app in conjunction with Samsung Health also acts as a trainer which sits right in your ear. The IconX gives you updates about your active time, calories burnt, distance covered and more from time-to-time.
They don’t have a heart rate monitor, which can be a deal-breaker given the price, but you would have to stay tuned for our full review to find out if it’s indeed such a big miss, especially if you have a Samsung smartphone.
Of course, if your only concern is the music, then you should be more than happy with the sound quality of the Samsung Gear IconX (2018), at least based on our first impressions.
We haven’t had much time to put the Gear IconX through its paces, though battery life does seem promising. Samsung says 10 minutes of charging in the cradle can provide up to an hour of listening. For a full charge, you would need to charge the cradle with the earbuds inside for just over an hour. The LED indicators glow from red to green when you hit full charge.
In our brief usage, the Gear IconX (2018) only went from 100% to 60% even when we had used the earbuds for more than 4 hours intermittently, pairing it with different devices.
With more and more phones dropping the headphone jack, it’s only a matter of time before wireless earbuds become the norm. There’s definitely a lot working in the favour of the Gear IconX during our brief testing period. Stay tuned for our full review to see whether you should pick the Gear IconX (2018) as your truly wireless earbuds companion for this year and beyond.
- Buy the Samsung Gear IconX (2018) on Flipkart for Rs 13,490 (Coming Soon)