Ditching headphone jack in smartphones is a trend that has been swiftly gathering momentum. Barring a few brands (like Samsung, Asus, and LG) most of them have either already bid adios to good old jack (3.5 mm) or are sincerely considering to do so. Evolving towards a wireless future, last year Samsung came out with its very first cord-free Bluetooth buds, the original Gear IconX. While they mostly managed to hit the right notes, there was one big let down involved i.e. extremely short battery life (90mins on Bluetooth mode).

The second-generation earbuds, the Gear IconX 2018, bring forth several improvements and last longer. That’s because, unlike the previous generation Icons, they ditch the heart rate sensor in lieu of a bigger battery. Are they now good enough for audiophiles to buy? Let’s find out in our Samsung Gear IconX 2018 review.

What’s In the Box

Right and Left Earbuds | Charging case | Extra tips and wings | Charging Cable | USB to MicroUSB OTG connector | USB to Type-C OTG connector |A brush for Cleaning | Quick Start Guide and Warranty Card | Instruction Illustration

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Initial set-up

The Samsung Gear IconX 2018 earbuds are compatible with both iOS and Android ecosystems. However, lack of a Samsung Gear Icon X app limits the iOS experience.

Q- Do the Samsung Gear IconX 2018 work with iPhones?
A- Well, the short answer is yes.
Q – How Do I connect my Gear IconX 2018 with iPhones?
iPhone users will have to hit the Bluetooth pairing button on the IconX charging case, and the look for pairing device on there iPhone. Once your device is connected you can enjoy Bluetooth music streaming and make calls with IconX 2018. However, iPhone users won’t be able to enjoy fancy features like Auto Activity tracker, and Ambient Sound etc. (Shame).
Q- Can I connect Samsung Gear Icon 2018 with PC or Mac?
A- Yes, you can.

Android users don’t necessarily have to have a Samsung phone to use these earbuds. The setup process is fairly simple and all one needs to do is install the Samsung Gear Manager app on his/her Android device.

Like the first-gen Gear IconX, the 2018 model has a pill-shaped charging case that refills battery juices of individual buds while keeping them safe. Just, hit the Bluetooth pairing button given on the case. You will get a pop on your Android Phone to connect just hit connect and pairing is done. Then on, the IconX will automatically connect to your phone as soon as you take them out of the case, which is how it should be for truly wireless earphones.

Design, Build Quality and Fit

The 2nd generation IconX have gone through some prominent design refinements. Samsung has worked on both aesthetics and feel of the entire package.

The pill-shaped carry case which has shrunken in length and seems too have gained some meat in middle. The case itself has a built-in battery for emergency power reserves, a USB-C port for charging, light indicators and Bluetooth pairing button. The polycarbonate carry case is neat and feels durable.

Moving on the earbuds themselves, they continue with the minimalistic approach and looks really elegant. Each bud has a rounded triangle indicating a touch-sensitive control surface. The earbuds feature a proximity sensor which power automatic play or pauses depending on whether the buds are in or out of your ears.

There have soft rubber ear tip and rubber wings which snugly fits into the folds of your ears. Samsung has bundled three different sizes of them so you choose the best possible fit.

I found Samsung’s Gear IconX 2018 quite comfortable and better suited for longer hours usage as compared to the Jabra Elite Sport.

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Samsung Gear Icon X 2018 Review: Sound, Controls and other features

Let’s start with the controls. The outward surfaces of the new Icon X 2018 are touch sensitive and can be used for controlling volume, skipping tracks, to answer calls or to summon assistant. Within the Gear app, Samsung has explained each and every touch gesture. In my experience, they are not as fluid and takes some getting used to.

The new Icon X comes with a bunch of new features like an improved equalizer and Ambient sound option. Now, there are five audio presets including Bass Boost to Dynamic. Similarly, you also get to control the Ambient sound and with new Voice Focus feature, you can easily amplify or subdue voices of people in your vicinity.

How is IconX 2018 Audio Performance?

Considering how tiny these small wireless earbuds are, they surely produce a rich sound. Samsung seems to have managed to strike the right balance between Bass, Vocals, and Trebles. In comparison to the last generation, you get clearer treble and more responsive bass. These also have a roomy instrumental placement which you can make out with ease. During my time with the IconX, I never faced latency issues while watching videos. All though, on a couple of occasions, I faced interference or drop issues but things went back to normal within a second or two.

If you opt to listen to music on IconX, the audio will be disconnected from any other connected Bluetooth device, even though the Bluetooth connection remains active.

Where the Gear IconX 2018 stands in comparison to Jabra Elite Sports, Apple Airpod, and Bose SoundSport Free?

Well, as per my experience, IconX 2018 sound better than Jabra Elite Sport. The audio quality is comparable to Apple’s Air Pods which produces ever so slightly better punch but let in lots of Ambient noise, especially at lower volume levels.

Still, IconX 2018 fell short of Bose SoundSport Free which produces better warmth and depth but also cost a lot more.

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Samsung Gear Icon X 2018 Review: Built-in Storage & Fitness

Samsung continues to offer 4GB (3.4GB usable) of internal storage on its IconX and these are only truly wireless earphones with this distinctive feature. What this means is that you need not have your connected phones with you to listen to music. It comes really handy during fitness sessions as you can enjoy music without carrying your smartphone.

How to transfer audio files to Gear IconX 2018?
There are two ways to do it. One by a wired connection and the second option is wirelessly using Bluetooth. Gear IconX only supports MP3, M4A, AAC, WAV, WMA file formats. You can transfer music from phone to the IconX 2018 with Gear app on your phone.
If you prefer to transfer using a USB cable you can do so that by plugging the earbuds via the charging case to a computer, you can see both earbuds as individual storage drives. Now, all you have to do is copy the selected files under the music folder without subfolders of both drives left and right.

 Though the IconX 2018 miss the heart rate sensor, the earphones continue to include an accelerometer to offer basic run tracking ability. It works in tandem with Samsung Heath app to track your jogs and walks and offer stats like distance covered, speed and an estimated amount of calories burned. Having said that, these numbers are not cent-percent accurate but they do provide a rough idea.

Samsung has added a new coach feature that offers various prompts to encourage you during your run. Some might find these to be useful, especially beginners, as they keep you motivated all through the run with timely prompts. Still, it is not something seasoned runners would want.

Samsung Gear Icon X 2018 Review: Battery life

Samsung finally managed to champion the battery life with the IconX 2018. The backup comes really close to what has been advertised by the company. The Gear IconX 2018 managed to last about 5 hours and 18 minutes while streaming at 90 percent volume. Mind you, while testing we kept the ambient noise pass-through feature on and equalizer set to dynamic.

Replacing the pods back in the charging case automatically starts refilling the juice. Samsung has given a USB 2.0 based USB Type-C connector on the case, which can add about an hour worth of back up with 10 minutes of charging.

Samsung Gear Icon X 2018 Review Verdict: Should you buy these?

The IconX 2018 are one of the most versatile wire-free in-ear earphones and have a lot going in their favor. The audio quality and the functionality make IconX a good buy for the price. Samsung has managed to tune them well with proper mids and lows. Their compact design and excellent fit further swayed me. Also, features like ambient sound pass through proved really helpful while jogging. The battery is now quite good, and even apt for People who wouldn’t use them as frequently.

Everything is not perfect, though. There is scope for simplifying touchpad control, and coach feature is largely unwanted (but you can turn it off). The ditching of heart-rate sensor sort of cuts-short its fitness-tracking potential, but we’d trade that any day for a bigger battery.

Everything considered, the Samsung Gear IconX 2018 are an excellent pair of truly wireless earbuds and an easy recommendation.

Pros

  • Dynamic sound
  • Ambient sound adjustment option
  • Comfortable fit
  • Local music storage
  • IPX2 sweat-proof

Cons

  • Touch controls
  • No AptX HD support
  • No built-in heart-rate sensor

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