Samsung Gear IconX wireless earphones Review


Update: You can now read our Gear IconX 2018 review!


Oh, what a great time to be alive! The world's brightest minds have turned science fiction into fact by giving us semi-autonomous cars, vacuum cleaner robots, and pocket-sized communicators with access to the world's collective knowledge, among other miraculous gadgets. While waiting for holodecks and transporters to arrive, we have the Samsung Gear IconX to add to this list of modern marvels. The latter, in a nutshell, is a set of wireless earbuds with exercise tracking abilities. Yes, they're completely wireless – as in no cables whatsoever connect to the earphones at any time. Nothing hangs, nothing dangles, nothing tangles. This level of convenience puts the IconX high on the awesomeness scale, but is a pair worth the hefty price of $200?

In the box:

  • Gear IconX wireless earphones (left and right)
  • Battery case for carrying and recharging
  • Micro USB cable
  • Micro USB to full-size USB connector
  • Small, medium, and large earbud tips and wingtips
  • Quick start guide, health, safety and warranty guide

Design and comfort

It feels like wearing the future!

Honestly, I was not expecting the Samsung Gear IconX to fit comfortably into my ears. The 'buds looked big and clunky, as if they were going to stick out while I had them on. I was wrong. In actuality, the earphones rest comfortably inside the earlobes, without being too tight or too loose. I can feel their presence, but I'm not bothered by that. No less importantly, the earbuds feel in no way prone to falling off, even while I'm jogging or climbing stairs.

For the record, I did let several of my colleagues give the IconX a try, and they all agreed that the earphones were comfortable to wear. As long as the ideal-sized tips were put on, that is. I've been using the medium-sized set of eartips and wingtips, but there's a small and a large set as well. The user is free to mix and match to get the optimal fit.

Speaking of design, the Gear IconX have been treated to a nanocoating by P2i, which, in human speak, means that they repel liquids. This is to prevent sweat and moisture from damaging them, although you should still be careful. Don't enter the sauna or go swimming while wearing these.

Samsung is providing the Gear IconX with a cleverly designed carrying case – a handy accessory, considering that the earphones, being small and wireless and all, are easy to lose. But you don't want to lose the case either – it doubles as a charger for the earphones, filling them up when connected to a USB port. What's more, inside the case there's a rechargeable battery, letting you refill the Gear IconX while on the go. Neat!

Software and functionality

More than just a set of wireless earphones, the GearX is also a nifty fitness tracker and an MP3 player. Neat!

Although the Gear IconX is a Samsung product, its device compatibility scope extends beyond the Galaxy brand. The earphones will work with most popular phones running Android 4.4 or higher, provided that they have at least 1.5GB of RAM. The IconX will not work with iOS, however. Don't bother trying. We did, to no avail.

Unsurprisingly, the experience is smoother when the Gear IconX is paired with a recent Samsung Galaxy smartphone – I used a Galaxy S7 edge throughout my testing, but I also paired the earphones with an Xperia Z5, an LG G5, and an HTC 10. They communicated with the IconX just fine. On non-Galaxy phones, however, I had to download the S Health and Samsung Gear apps myself. Their use is optional, but recommended. The Gear app lets you change settings and see the status of the IconX, while the S Health app keeps track of your workouts.

Speaking of apps, the Gear IconX comes with a PC/Mac application as well. Its purpose is to allow you to copy songs (up to 1000 of them) from your computer to the earphones' 4GB of internal storage, as well as to provide firmware updates. If you'll be storing any audio on the earphones, I recommend using the app instead of copying the files manually since it makes things easier. Curiously, there are 4GB built into each earphone, and the exact same files need to be copied onto both in order to be played back. You can also move songs from a Galaxy phone straight to the IconX. That is done by physically connecting the two using the provided USB cable and microUSB to USB adaptor. This applies to song files only. You can't move Spotify tracks onto the IconX, even if you have them saved for offline use.

As a fitness tracker, the Samsung Gear IconX does a decent job. The earphones can measure the distance you've traveled and track your hear rate using their built-in pulse sensor. In-depth stats, including calories burned and a exercise intensity graphs, are then shown in the S Health app. You can also get current stats at any moment during your workout, which is handy. If you don't have your phone on you during an exercise session, stats will be synced once it is in range.

Exercise data is not monitored constantly, however, most likely to save power. You have to enter workout mode manually. That is done with a long press on an earphone's side. They're sensitive to touch, which enables a bunch of actions to be performed.


Taps and gestures control the IconX – an acceptable, but unreliable solution.

So yeah, the sides of both Samsung Gear IconX earphones are sensitive to the touch – you skip tracks and change volume with taps and swipes on either earbud. Don't worry, as the Gear app will list all gestures for you when you connect your IconX to your phone for the first time. Of course, they're simple and straightforward – a single tap will play/pause your music, for instance, and swiping up or down controls volume. Alas, I can't call them convenient.

One gripe I have with the IconX's touch-sensitive controls is that sometimes when I tap to play or skip a song, I feel like I'm punching my eardrum. Not fun. Another is that the gestures are unreliable. A double tap can be mistaken for a single, for instance, and trying to adjust the volume might mess up my fit. Besides, the touch-sensitive area is simply too small to tap accurately every time. Making matters worse, there is a considerable input lag when listening to music from your phone over Bluetooth.

To end this section on a more positive note, there are some clever features built into the Gear IconX. For example, I don't have to pause them if I take them off. They do that automatically. Also, every time they connect to my phone, they turn the volume down to a safe level, just in case I've had them turned up too loud last time I used them.

Sound and phone call quality

Not perfect, but good enough to keep you pumped.

Given the price, anyone buying the Samsung Gear IconX would expect them to sound good. I'd say that they are good enough for a sporty set of earphones. Sound comes out loud and with a decent thump to it, without crackling even at the highest volume setting. Surrounding noise is blocked well, there's no sound leaking out of the earbuds, and since they rest deep inside your ear canal, music sounds as if the band is playing inside your head. The only audio-related complaint I have is that the mid-range of the spectrum sounds muffled – vocals and some instruments lack clarity. My guess is that regular folks will not notice this flaw at all, but audio perfectionists surely will.

Now is a good time to mention Ambient Sound mode. As the name implies, it enables the IconX to pick up ambient sounds with its built-in microphones, thus making the user aware of their surroundings. But the mode doesn't work quite as well as advertised. I was struggling to have a conversation with a couple of colleagues sitting next to me, even when I had my music paused. Outside, I couldn't hear the sounds of car engines until they were a couple of feet away from me. And there's wind noise. Lots of it.

Sound quality during phone calls is average at best. The conversation is comprehensible for both parties, but the audio is muffled and lacking in clarity. I should point out that sound comes and is picked up from the right earphone only, not from both. You may set the left earphone as main if you feel like it.

As far as range goes, I've never experienced any unexpected drops in Bluetooth connectivity while listening to music from my Galaxy S7 edge. The IconX maintains a solid connection at up to 30 feet (10 meters) away from my phone, with no obstacles in the way.

Battery Life

Disappointingly, your tunes might die in as little as an hour.

There's a tiny, 47mAh battery inside each Gear IconX earbud, which is not a whole lot of charge capacity. Battery life varies considerably, depending on how the earphones are being used, but in any case, the times are disappointing.

Streaming music from a phone over Bluetooth will drain the IconX in 60 to 75 minutes, depending on the volume level. You can stretch playback time to about 90 to 100 minutes if you only listen to audio saved on the earphones' internal storage. That's enough to keep you pumped during an exercise routine, perhaps, but not enough to get you through a day of active listening. Interestingly, having workout mode enabled did not seem to have a noticeable impact on battery life.

Recharge times aren't great either. The earphones need 70 minutes to go from zero to full, regardless of whether you're using USB power or the provided 315mAh battery case. Speaking of the case, it could top-up my Gear IconX only once. The second round filled them to about 2/3 of their charge capacity.


The Samsung Galaxy IconX is a first-generation product. That's why I was not expecting it to be perfect, and it wasn't. Throughout my testing, I got to experience both its strengths and weaknesses – from the complete freedom and absolute awesomeness of having a truly wireless set of earphones to dealing with poor battery life; from exercising to my favorite music to fiddling with the twitchy touch controls. But at the end of the day, I'd still say that the IconX is worth checking out if you're willing to tolerate its shortcomings.

Yes, the Gear IconX is worth a look, and for a clear reason – there's nothing quite like it. I can count the number of completely wireless earbuds on the fingers of one hand. Among all offerings, only the IconX doubles as a fitness tracker, has MP3 playback capabilities, and comes from a major brand.

Alternatively, there's the wise option to wait until a second-gen IconX comes along – that one is likely to improve on the current model's drawbacks. And if being completely wire-free isn't your top priority, there's already a rich selection of tethered Bluetooth earbuds, all of which will certainly beat the IconX when it comes to battery life.

Update: You can now read our Gear IconX 2018 review!


  • Completely wireless Bluetooth earbuds!
  • More comfortable to wear than they look
  • Good Bluetooth range
  • Can store 1000 songs to play without a phone


  • Poor battery life, take a while to recharge
  • Touch controls are inconvenient
  • No iOS compatibility

PhoneArena Rating:


Recommended Stories

Loading Comments...
FCC OKs Cingular\'s purchase of AT&T Wireless