Samsung Gear IconX 2018 review

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Small but surprising!

Almost two years after the launch of the first IconX model on the market, Samsung back strongly on the wireless earphone market with IconX 2018. Presented on the occasion of IFA 2017, the IconX 2018 earphones are a real concentrate of technology and power. Small devices but capable of surprising. These IconX are designed especially for those who practice sports, but ultimately they could also be good for those who do not practice sports and simply want to free themselves from the wires and cables of traditional headphones.

The first IconX model failed to make its way into the hearts of enthusiasts. The reason is probably to be found in a battery that is too small which then led the IconX to discharge in a very short time. For this reason, Samsung has decided to "sacrifice" an element that it had not fully convinced, namely the heart rate sensor. This choice has first of all allowed the Korean house to increase the battery capacity, which now goes from the previous 47 mAh to 82 mAh. Capacity almost doubled therefore and that in daily use and not very noticeable. A further advantage, however, is given by the fact that both earphones are better balanced.

In detail:

  • Weight: 8g
  • Earphone Size: 21,8 x 18,9 x 22,8mm
  • Battery: 82 mAh
  • Autonomy: 4.5h in playback
  • Case weight: 54,5g
  • Battery case: 340mAh
  • Bluetooth v4.2 / Accelerometer / Proximity sensor / USB Type-C
  • ROM memory size (GB): 4 GB (3.4GB free)
  • Price: € 199

A clean design

From an aesthetic point of view, the new IconX from Samsung are almost identical to the previous model. If you compare it, you will hardly notice the difference. Evidently Samsung felt that the aesthetics were fine as it was and therefore decided to aim to improve other aspects that we will see later. The overall design turns out to be clean, beautiful to the eye (and to the touch) and decidedly cared for. From the construction point of view, there is a sense of strong robustness and the quality of the materials is of excellent workmanship. Particular care has been taken in guaranteeing greater comfort earphones.

In fact, the IconX adapts to any type of ear, they enter easily and remain firmly in the auricle even in the event of sudden head movements. But be careful to apply the right rubber, as a rough choice will lead you to have some small pain inside the ears after a handful of hours of using the earphones. In the sales package, we find three sets of rubber pads (S / M / L), 3 sets of fins (S / M / L), two OTG adapters, one USB-USB and the other USB-C-USB, a cable USB Type-C, Quick Start Guide and the convenient charging case. The latter is a small rounded envelope, a little awkward to keep in jeans pockets but overall small and handy (dimensions: 31,4 x 73,4 x 44,5 mm). Here, in addition to being able to store our IconXs, avoiding leaving them around, we can also recharge them. In fact, we have two convenient slots, one for the right earphone and one for the left earphone, a convenient pairing button to pair the IconX with our smartphone and a Type C input to connect the USB cable and recharge the IconX and case.

In the front part of the case, in addition to the opening button, there are two LEDs that indicate the residual charge of the two earphones. Red = charging and green = charging completed. On the back, however, we have an additional LED that allows you to check the charge status of the case and a convenient Bluetooth pairing button. If you find yourself in the position of having to give the earphones a “hit” to recharge, just insert them in the case, wait 10 minutes and you'll have about 1 hour of playback. The charging case also guarantees 1 and a half / 2 times of full charge of our IconX so that we almost never find ourselves dry.

Goodbye smartphone?

To associate our IconX to the smartphone, simply insert the headphones in the appropriate slots, download the application Samsung Gear and hold down the pairing button. The game is done. Of course you can use the earphones even without the dedicated app, but you will not be able to use various functions. The great thing is that thanks to the proximity sensor, the IconX will know that we are wearing them. Once hooked to the ear, a comfortable sound feedback will notify us of the ignition. The earphones are small and very light, weighing only 8 grams. Although there is no IP certification, the two earbuds are resistant to dust, water and sweat. They can also be used without a smartphone. In fact, thanks to the 4GB internal ROM memory, we will be able to transfer our songs, both through the cable and in Wireless mode. Remember to transfer the songs to both IconXs, otherwise the music will only play on the headset to which it was transferred. It is possible to use only one IconX, perhaps to avoid distractions when we are outdoors. Indeed, the environmental isolation is amazing. No disturbing street noise will be heard when you put on the earphones.

Great sound!

As far as audio performance is concerned, these IconXs deliver surprisingly clean and deep sound. The basses are really powerful and can adapt to the most varied musical genres. Of course, as these are wireless headphones, you can't expect excellent sound quality that's perfect for audiophiles. Overall, Samsung has done a good job and the result is truly sensational. Thanks to their sound, these IconXs have nothing to envy to medium / high-end wired earphones. 

On the call front, the audio of telephone conversations is good. Both us and the interlocutor will be able to hear the voice quite well and distinctly.

Smart earphones

The IconX are designed, as mentioned at the beginning of the review, especially for those who practice outdoor sports. The “smart” functions present allow you to keep track of your workouts. The parameters that are analyzed are the classic ones: calories burned, distance, duration, speed. But let's get to an implemented function that could give more annoyance than benefit to most, the virtual coach. From time to time, a voice, too insistently, will urge you to do better, to give more, thanks to rather lackluster and standardized motivational phrases. While the idea behind it is laudable, it essentially has no real use. Rest assured that by going to the Samsung Gear application you can deactivate the feature and enjoy your music without hassle.

Instead, one aspect that has fully convinced us is the use of touch controls present on both earphones. Initially it will be necessary to get carried away, but after a couple of times of use, the gestures will come natural.

In summary:

  • Single tap: play or pause the song
  • Double tap: allows you to skip to the next song and answer / end a call
  • Triple tap: Play the previous song
  • Long touch: Read menu options aloud and reject a call. You can then activate some functions from the menu: Before training - Voice command - Start now - Activate are environmental - Deactivate are environmental. During Exercise - Voice Prompt - Workout Details - End Workout - Turn ambient sound on or off
  • Double tap or press: Skip to the next song list if you are wearing both headphones
  • Swipe up / down: volume up / down

The function enable or disable ambient sound is really useful and above all it keeps an eye on safety on the road. In fact, since the in-ear headphones isolate very well from the surrounding environment, by activating the ambient sound function, the noises coming from the street or from the outside will be reproduced in the headphones avoiding dangerous situations or some too many distractions.

Battery life and price

Battery life has significantly improved compared to the first generation. On the official website of the manufacturer, the battery life in Standalone Music Play playback is estimated to be about 7 hours while 5 hours in Streaming Audio (Bluetooth connected). In our test, these estimates have actually been maintained.

The IconX 2018 on the official website have a price of 199 €, but sifting through the various sites it is possible to take them home even at a little less.

Final comment:

The Samsung Gear IconX are definitely above average wireless in ear headphones. They are certainly not cheap, € 199, but thanks to their practicality, comfort and battery life, they represent the right product not only for those who practice sports but also for those who want to free themselves from the wires and cables of traditional headphones. Maybe the price is a bit high, but you can find the IconXs on offer on a variety of online sites.

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