Two things about me: I like music (a lot), and I’m not into fitness. But if you’re not me, and you happen to like both, a great pair of earphones might be one of your essentials. You’re also the target of Samsung’s new product, the Gear IconX, a pair of Bluetooth earbuds that also have fitness capabilities built right in.
Let’s first tackle the obvious. For the Gear IconX’s design, Samsung is taking cues from a similar product from a startup company called Bragi, the Bragi Dash. The Gear IconX earbuds are small, even smaller than a 1-peso coin. They’re supposed to fit in your ear no matter what ear shape you have. To help with a better, each bud has rubber wingtips that also help with comfort.
Sadly, like all other Gear products, the IconX only works on Samsung or any Android smartphones. As an Apple user, it’s a pain point. I like the product, but I can’t even use it.
The reason why the Gear IconX is a little more special is because each bud has a heart rate monitor and built-in step and calorie counter for fitness tracking. All these data can be saved on the buds themselves, or synced to the Gear app installed on your Samsung or Android device.
Speaking of the app, it’s a standard app that shows you the battery level on each bud, and helps collect all the data gathered through the buds. The data is then synced to S-Health.
The Samsung Gear IconX has no on/off switch. Plugging the buds into your ears automatically powers them up. You’ll hear a beep sound once it detects you’re wearing them. The buds also connect to each other using a technology called Near Field Magnetic Induction. Basically, it just means they can detect each other and then sync automatically.
Each earbud also has a touchpad, which is the basically the main way to interact with the device. It’s quite clever, actually. One tap to pause or play, swipe up or down to increase or decrease the volume, respectively, and long press to start or end an exercise. This interaction was also borrowed by Samsung from the Bragi Dash. The gestures actually take a little getting used to. There are times when the touchpad won’t read your gestures or may read them wrong, but it’s easy to get the hang of it. A voice guides everything that you do on the device. It reminds you when the volume is too loud, and indicates the start or the end of your exercise.
The buds come in a pill-shaped charging case which holds power up to 2 full charges. That’s good because the buds have terrible battery life – only 3 hours of music playback when used as a standalone device or 1.5 hours when connected to a Samsung or Android smartphone. When the buds run out of juice, putting them back in the case will charge them. When the case itself runs out of power, just charge it with a regular micro-USB cable. This is where it gets tricky, though. The case isn’t smart enough to stop charging once the buds are fully charged, consuming all the power from the case. The easiest fix is leaving the buds out of the case when they’re charged, or keeping the case slightly opened. Believe me, it was a pain point for me.
Each earbud also comes with 4GB of on-board storage which means that you can save songs on the buds themselves. There are 2 ways to do this: plugging the case to your PC, or connecting the case to your Samsung or any Android phone through a special adapter that comes with the product. Either way, music transfer is easy. Another tricky thing I found out, though, is that whatever music you copy on the left bud, you must also copy on the right bud. Unless you do that, the songs will only play on the bud you saved the music into.
Unlike other Bluetooth earphones, the Gear IconX delivers great sound, at least. Deep bass, great treble. It was overall a pleasant listening experience.
I had to lend the Samsung Gear IconX to a friend who actually works out to test its fitness capabilities. So far, his biggest challenge was using the gestures on the buds themselves. They’re a bit tricky, he said, and I totally agree. However, the buds stayed snug fit in his ears and didn’t fall off once during his work out sessions.
Overall, the Samsung Gear IconX isa great listening device both for people who work out and for those who just like their music delivered wirelessly but in great quality. There are still some things that Samsung can improve, and I hope they’re addressed on the next version.
The Gear IconX retails for P7,990 in all Samsung stores nationwide.
What do you think of this device? Let us know in the comments below!