Samsung launched Gear IconX last year for Rs. 13,490 in India last year. It is its first fitness tracking Bluetooth headset that can track heart rate, distance, speed, duration and calories burned. It has a lot of features and comes in a compact design. It is worth the price? Let’s take an in-depth look at the device in this review.
- Samsung Gear IconX Earbuds
- Charging Case
- Micro USB cable
- Eartips (S, M, L)
- Wingtips (S, M, L)
- Quick Start Guide
Hardware and Design
The Gear IconX has a compact design measuring 18.9 (W) x 26.0 (D) and weighs just 6.3 grams per earbud. It comes with different set of eartips and wingtips so you can choose one according to the size of your ears. on the front there are touch controls that Play or pause music with a single tap, move to Next track and Answer or end calls with double tap, move to Previous track with triple tap, swipe to control Volume up or down and tap and hold to readout the menu readout for Workout and Ambient Sound. Some of these controls are hard to remember so you need some time getting used to them.
On the other side there are earbuds which is soft. The left and right earbuds are marked. There are also contacts for charging. The eartips holds the earbuds tightly so it doesn’t fall out of your ears even during workouts.
One the sides there is a heart rate sensor on the right earbud and there are glowing red colored LEDs in both the earbuds. Both these earbuds also have two microphones each to cancel ambient noise. The earbuds are Water-resistant since it has P2i nano coating so it can resist sweat and light rain but you can use it when swimming.
It comes with a compact charging case that is required to charge the earbuds. The charging case can be charged using a micro USB that comes in the box, but it doesn’t come bundled with a charger. It has a 315mAh battery so you can charge earbuds that have 47mAh battery slightly over two times.
Software, Audio Quality and Performance
You can shuffle play tracks that are stored on the headset and also control music easily. Since it has 4GB of internal storage, you can store a lot of music and listen to them without connecting it to a phone, but you need IconX PC Manager to add music to the headset and also to update the firmware.
Notifications will read out smartphone’s app notifications through the earbuds. By limiting notifications, you can block all notifications except for incoming calls and alarms when you use the earbuds connected to a smartphone.
You can also activate the audio guide to hear exercise information during your workout, and select an interval for the audio guide messages. Activate ambient sound mode lets you hear your surroundings while using the earbuds. In ambient sound mode, you can quickly detect any potentially dangerous situations even while listening to music. You can set an earbud as the main earbud to be used for answering calls and recording exercise information.
The Gear manager app also gives you detailed tips on how to use the headset which is good.
Coming to the audio quality, the audio clarity is good but it is not loud enough compared to some of the Bluetooth headsets in the price range. Even with full volume you don’t feel it is not loud enough and the audio starts crackling.
You can record and save exercise information, such as the activity duration, your heart rate, and the number of calories burned, without connecting the earbuds to your smartphone. All you need to do is just touch and hold the touchpad and release it when you hear “Start workout”.
You can also check the status of your workout when you tap and hold the touchpad and release it. You hear “Workout details”. Then, you will hear the recorded exercise information. However, the earbuds can recognize and save information only for walking and running. You can also download the S Health app to use it as a heart rate monitor (HRM), which is an optical heart rate monitor so you can’t say this is 100% accurate compared to a dedicated chest strap heart rate monitor accessories.
Coming to the battery life, the battery life is poor compared to what Samsung promises which is up to 3.8 hours for standalone music playback and up to 1.6 hours of streaming over Bluetooth. We managed to get only 1 hour of battery life while streaming audio over Bluetooth and less than two hours when used standalone. All this without using workout. The earbuds should go to sleep mode when it is disconnected to save the battery, but it doesn’t go to sleep most of the times so the voice guide informs that the battery level is below 10% in a few minutes of wearing it. It also warns when the charge is below 5%, 2% and when it is about to turn off when the battery has drained completely.
The charging case comes in handy during such period and also charges quickly but it can charge only about two times so the battery might not last a whole day if you are using the earbuds for music streaming over Bluetooth.
Overall the Gear IconX is an innovative pair of compact earbuds with several features such as heart rate tracking, built-in storage for offline music playback and bundled wingtips and ear tips but it falls short when it comes to battery life, which is the most important part of a Bluetooth headset. Audio quality is also not up to mark and it is slightly costly compared some of the headsets like the Jaybird. It is available from Samsung stores offline as well as online and other online retailers such as Flipkart for Rs. 13,490. To summarize, here are the pros and cons of the headset.
- Light, Compact design
- Heart rate sensor
- Sweat and Splash Resistant (P2i Nano Coating)
- 4GB internal storage for standalone music playback
- Poor battery life
- Average audio quality
- Requires IconX PC Manager to update firmware
- Priced slightly on the higher side
Images by Siraj