Samsung Gear IconX Review
Along with the Gear Fit2, Samsung launched the Gear IconX in the Philippines that brings wireless music and activity tracking to its users. Here’s our take on this portable fitness device.
Design and Construction
The IconX comes in a capsule-shaped case that is not just a mere container for the wireless buds. This cradle packs a modest 315mAh battery which charges the device when the earbuds are docked and the capsule is closed.
Upon closer look at each bud, you’ll notice a smooth surface enclosed by a shiny accent. This area is touch-sensitive and is the only way to operate the device without reaching for your phone since the IconX has no buttons at all.
At its inner side, you’ll see dots of golden contact points that connect to the charging cradle once docked. The IconX also has flexible wingtips that should help secure the bud in your ears even while jogging or running.
Additionally, there’s a heart rate sensor built-in that not only tracks your heartbeat per minute, it also senses whenever you put on the device and triggers it to turn on. On the other hand, removing both buds powers off the IconX.
At the rear, there’s a microUSB port for charging the battery installed inside the cradle.
The entire package is simple and unassuming, which is partly why we like it. It easily fits inside a sports bag or you can also keep it in your pocket. It’s in a convenient package that you could just pick up before heading out for a quick jog.
As we’ve mentioned, it doesn’t have any power button to press. Once you put one bud on, it will make a beeping sound meaning it detected that you’ve worn it. Putting the other one will have the same sound then both the earpiece will make a new synchronized tone to confirm the connection between the two buds.
Initial connection to a smartphone is pretty easy. Just download the Samsung Gear app which will then require you to install the additional Gear IconX plugin. Just download and it will establish a connection between the IconX and your phone. Just like the Samsung Gear Fit2, you will also need the S Health app to view all the data logged by the earbuds.
There are two options to listen to music while wearing the device. One is by loading up songs straight to each bud (yes, upload to both the left and right earpiece), while the other one is by using your phone to stream music to the IconX via Bluetooth. You can also use your phone and transfer songs into the device so that you can leave your phone behind and concentrate on running.
So we grabbed the pair of wireless in-ears, put on our running shoes, and set off to do some jogging. You can tell the IconX to start monitoring your activity by tapping and holding the surface of the left or right bud and waiting for a voice prompt to say, “Start your workout”. Release your finger from holding the device and it will activate its heart rate sensor.
One additional feature that we liked about the IconX is the capability to still hear the things happening around you by activating its ambient sensors. To do this, do the same tap and hold procedure and wait for the prompt to say, “Activate ambient sound.” What this does is make the buds listen to external sounds and deliver them into your ears. Basically, what you’re hearing is an unnatural, digitized version of the outside sound. It’s actually pretty cool and we felt like androids that could enjoy music and still hear what people around us are talking about.
One thing we noticed, though, was that when running in an area with strong gusts of wind, the external microphone mostly picks up that windy sound. Imagine blowing into a microphone. That’s what it sounds like and is a bit distracting while you run. During better times, however, we were able to hear approaching cars coming from behind us and serves its main purpose.
Apart from that, we proved that it’s targetted only towards running and doesn’t support tracking other activities like the Gear Fit2 does. We tried using it while cycling and the distance it reported didn’t match our actual distance, although monitored the right BPM.
In terms of audio quality, we were impressed with the clarity of sound reproduced by the drivers. The instruments were distinctly heard, vocals/mids were authoritative yet not overpowering, and the lows have a noticeable kick. Although it comes in a small package, it’s good to know that it has decent bass — moreso considering that the sound was streamed via Bluetooth.
Each bud carries 47mAh of battery capacity each. Just as you’d expect, they don’t last very long if you’re constantly streaming music over Bluetooth. While tracking our activity with ambient sound on and music playing through Bluetooth, it was able to last for 2 hours and 11 minutes of continuous usage out of the three-hour claimed playtime by Samsung through local playback of music.
The good thing about having a small capacity is charging takes a short time to replenish the battery. The cradle, with its 315mAh capacity, could charge the buds twice (for about 45-50mins) before you need to charge the dock again.
The Samsung Gear IconX is an effective tool for tracking your activity. It gives you the freedom to move freely without worrying about pesky cables getting in the way. Also, since you can load songs straight to the IconX buds, you can just leave your phone behind and concentrate on running while still enjoying your tunes. After the workout, just sync your data with the handset and easily browse your stats for the day.
Samsung Gear Fit2 and Gear IconX
The features it possesses make exercising more convenient and its small form factor also makes it very easy to bring around. It’s not the perfect workout buddy as it still needs some refinements when it comes to battery life and the wind-sensitive microphones but it actually comes pretty close.
Available at Samsung concept stores, the Gear IconX is available for Php7,990.
Samsung Gear IconX specs:
4GB / up to 1,000 songs
Accelerometer, HR, Capacitive Touch
47mAh battery (buds), 315mAh battery (case)
Charging case: 315mAh
Earbud: 18.9 (W) x 26.0 (D) / Case: 92.0 (W) x 35.3 (D)
Earbud: 6.3g per earbud / Case: 52g
Black, blue and white
What we liked about it:
- Above average sound quality
- Ambient sound feature
What we didn’t:
- Short battery life
- Wind-sensitive microphones