Wireless earbuds are still a new concept for many consumers, but soon would become an everyday device for many people. Apple announced the AirPods when it showcased the new iPhone 7 smartphones. They do look awkward, but thanks to Apple, more players will start making their own wireless earbuds now.
Samsung has been a step ahead in the game. It introduced the Gear IconX earlier this year and launched them before Apple even had a chance to announce their own candy-cane like AirPods. While we wait for the AirPods to reach us, here is an in-depth look at the Gear Icon X wireless earbuds from Samsung.
Build and design: 8.5/10
The Gear IconX are definitely better looking than the AirPods and offer a more reassuring design in terms of securely fitting in your ears. They somehow remind me of the Bragi Dash, in fact it seems that Samsung has taken some inspiration from the independent company.
The body comes with plastic and rubber blended together. The rubber ear tips protrude out which fit inside your ear canal. There is also a rubber wing that helps you secure the earbuds in your ears. The ear-tips and the wings are interchangeable as well. They can get tricky to fit at first, but after a while you get used to them. I was quite happy with the snug fit, but after about an hour of usage, they start hurting.
Each earbud comes with built-in sensors, contact points for charging and a flat touch sensitive surface.The earbuds come with a heart-rate sensor as well as an accelerometer to track your activity. Thanks to the sensors, the music automatically stops when you pull them out of your ears. They are sweat and waterproof so using them during a workout is not an issue. In fact I did a bit of a workout myself and didn't face any issue. Using the Samsung Gear app you can also track your workout.
Then there is the capsule shaped case. It not only helps you to keep the earbuds safely in one place, it also charges them. It features a microUSB port that helps in charging and data transfer, an LED light at the back when you are charging the case itself (yes it has a built-in battery) and two LEDs on the front to indicate the charging status of the earbuds inside. Just pop in the earbuds in the case, shut it and it starts charging.
Before I dive into the function, let me talk about the sound quality. Volume level is up to the mark and since they are lodged in tight, outside noise is mostly cut. High and mids sound balanced but the lows could’ve been better. The sound is crisp but lacks a punch. Overall the sound quality is satisfying, but don’t expect it to match the levels of your high-end earphones.
The earbuds come with a touch sensitive area which you can use to control your music and take calls. Tap once to play or pause a song, slide your finger on the touchpad up or down to control the volume, double tap to switch to the next track or answer/end a call, triple tap to go back to the previous track and tap and hold to hear the settings spoken in English and change the sound environment. The earbuds come with a built in memory, 4GB on each, to store music.
Call quality is pretty good. The inbuilt mic works well and there were no issues whatsoever.
Battery life: 6/10
Samsung claims that the IconX can go for 3.5 hours when playing music from the inbuilt memory and just 1.5 hours when streaming off a smartphone. In my tests I got about 1 hour and 10 minutes of playback when playing music from my smartphone via Bluetooth and about 3 hours 30 minutes from the inbuilt memory. This isn’t sufficient, at least for a user like me.
Samsung says that you can pop in the earphones in the case as it provides two full charges. I couldn't figure exactly how much charge remained in the case but I could charge the earphones at least one and a half times. But that doesn’t solve the purpose. I can’t keep putting them in a case to charge after every 1 or 2 hours. I really wish Samsung had squeezed in a longer lasting battery, but then they are quite tiny.
I absolutely love how Samsung has made this product. It looks like something from the future. A future we used to see in movies. The sounds quality is not impressive, but it is still quite good for daily usage, especially while working out. The biggest shortcoming I faced was the battery life. I listen to a lot of music, especially when I am at work. But with such poor battery backup, I kept looking at my Sony Wireless headphones, which go on for hours before needing a recharge.
The price is set at Rs 13,490 which would sound a bit high, but you get probably the coolest looking earphones on the market. However, if its sound quality and long battery life that you seek, then I wouldn’t recommend these.