THE first time I had a glimpse of the Samsung Gear Icon X as part of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 launch, I knew this was something I had to review. A wireless headphone that can give you much more than just music is really the future and Apple has endorsed that with its new AirPods. So, is the Icon X any good?
The Icon X concept is not really new and some start-ups have dabbled with a similar form factor much before Samsung. However, the fact that a brand such as Samsung has decided to pop these in their ears validates the potential of the idea. These pods are wonderfully designed and stay in your ears whatever you decide to do with the rest of your body. And the charging dock, or case, is innovative, too, keeping your pair safe when they are switched on in your ears. The fact that the case can charge the pods on its own adds real value to the entire device.
What is good?
The audio quality is really good with the right amount of bass and depth. Since you will be wearing this more during workouts, Samsung has thoughtfully made it aware—in other words, you will not be cut off from what’s happening around you. These earpods are wireless, but you don’t need to reach out to your smartphone to adjust everything. You can adjust volume and switch tracks by swiping on the side of the pods. However, this takes some time getting used to.
There are voice prompts for a lot of settings, like skipping songs or the start of a workout, so that you are not lost. You can store up to 4 GB of songs within the pods themselves so that you can easily leave the smartphone back home while going for a jog or walk.
These are actually fitness earbuds, so they are capable of tracking your steps, calorie burn and even heart rate. However, you need the Samsung S-Health app to access this data. The case of
the pods are capable of charging them on their own. This is a neat little feature which ensures the pods are charged when you have stashed them away in the case. Just ensure that you charge the case with the pods in them at regular intervals.
What is not that good?
These are made for a Samsung ecosystem, so while it works with other Android devices the experience is not really smooth. I struggled to set up S-Health on an new Android device as it asks you for a Samsung user ID which is no longer a simple email account. I couldn’t understand why S-Health needs this level of verification to get going.
Since these are wireless earbuds you cannot use them to listen to radio. At least for my morning walks that is an important feature for me. But then you can’t have radio on most portable audio devices without a wire. The battery life of the Icon X could be a lot better. For my use with music and a few calls, they lasted about three hours on the trot. Thankfully, the case does come handy.
Should you buy?
The Samsung Gear Icon X is a stylish fitness earbud that gives you a sneak peak into what the future could be like. It is good device, but with limited use. I don’t see many people wearing this. So buy this if you lead a very active lifestyle and feel stifled by wires. And remember, this certainly does not come cheap.
Estimated street price: R13,490