Samsung Gear IconX wireless earphones Review

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.

Controls

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.

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