Samsung's Gear IconX are truly wireless earbuds with a focus on fitness tracking

Dan Seifert / The Verge

Truly wireless earbuds are having their moment this year: we've seen numerous startups launch or announce headphones that have no wires to your phone or between the two earbuds themselves. The Bragi Dash have been the most promising ones we've seen, but even those have major compromises that demonstrate the early nature of this product category.

Samsung is today throwing its hat into the ring with the announcement of the Gear IconX. The $199.99 IconX are the first truly wireless headphones from a major manufacturer, though they echo many of the same features and design of other models we've seen already.

As you'd expect, the Gear IconX connect to the phone wirelessly and have no wires connecting the two earbuds — they are truly independent of each other. The earbuds are stored in a pill-shaped case when not in use, which provides up to two full charges. That's a good thing, because the battery life on the IconX is by far its biggest compromise. Samsung says that the headphones will last about an hour and a half when streaming music from your phone, or just over three and a half hours when playing music stored on their 4GB of internal memory.

Each IconX weighs just a little more than a US quarter and has hooks to lock it in the cartilage in your ear. It's a surprisingly comfortable and easy-to-use design — my ears don't often work well with in-ear headphones, but I was able to pop the IconX in my ears and have them lock in place easily. They are also pretty good at blocking outside noise — Samsung has a special mode on them that passes through outside noises if you want — and the sound is full without being too bassy. I'll reserve final judgement on their audio quality until I'm able to spend more time with them. They did manage to stay connected and in sync in the few minutes I tested them out, which is where we've seen other headphones struggle the most.



Controlling the IconX is very similar to the Dash — you tap and swipe on the earbud to skip tracks, navigate menus, and control volume. The IconX has voice confirmations for each action, and it is managed by an app on the phone. At launch, the headphones will work with most Android phones (running at least Android 4.4 and with 1.5GB or more of RAM), but they will not work with iOS devices.

Streaming music to your earholes without any wires getting in the way may be a dream of many people, but Samsung's actually pitching the IconX as a fitness tracking device first and personal music product second. The IconX has sensors to monitor movement, heart rate, and distance traveled, and can calculate calories burned, just like a wrist-worn fitness tracker. It syncs all of that data to Samsung's S Health app, which can export to a handful of other fitness apps.

The Gear IconX will be available in white, blue, and black when they launch later this year. We'll reserve final judgement on them until we've spent more time with a production-ready version, but if Samsung's able to deliver with the IconX and do so at its aggressive price point, it may very well eat the lunch of all the startups trying their hands at truly wireless earbuds.

Comments

"Samsung says that the headphones will last about an hour and a half when streaming music from your phone, "
…And thats where I stopped reading.

Lol right like what exactly is the point here

Enough for most workouts people do and Samsung is marketing them for this group. For most other situations cables are perfectly fine.

Hour and a half

Well it depends on how fast it’ll recharge from the case, if it uses a capacitor based design and you can instantly refill it this wouldn’t be a major issue.

Nevermind, I googled and apparently it’s a regular battery so this is just hilariously bad battery life.

Can someone just make wireless ear buds for listening to music and none of the fitness crap?

I think a lot of people would be interested in that. Basically Earins that don’t have horrible connection issues.

I would like Jaybird to make their X2’s wireless. I could also use a little better range as well. Maybe they can use whichever earpiece has a better connection and switch between them to keep them from cutting out, as long as the two earpieces can still communicate with each other.

I was thinking the same: I wonder if the battery life would improve without all those unnecessary "features".

Oh look, another device that I’d be really interested in buying except it doesn’t use USB-C for charging so I won’t.

It must be cool being the only one in the club then eh?

At least it’s exclusive

My fear of owning these is you’re F’d if you lose one. My wife has a tendency to put my shit in places I would never find it. Cleaning while ADD can be hazardous.

The article says they will only work devices running Android 4.4+. I imagine the encompasses all of the IconX features. Will audio alone work with devices outside of that range?

I don’t own these and I’ve already lost them.

That is the exact reason I never buy expensive earbuds. I don’t care who makes them.

Was excited, then saw the battery life

"I’ll reserve final judgement on their audio quality until I’m able to spend more time with them. "

Any updates? My experience with the "non" truly wireless earbuds thus far is that it’s going to be a LONG time before we see anything that matches the quality of a ~$79 pair of wired earbuds from Klipsch et al.

Moto Surround for life. Cant see myself getting rid of mine for a while.

I’m not sold on the appeal for full wireless headphones. The concept is neat but I don’t think the little bit of cable connecting headphones behind your neck is as big of a problem as the really long cable that drapes in front of your chest while working out.

I like being able to pull one ear out to quickly hear my surroundings and not have to hold/pocket something and be afraid of loosing it.

Like this or the other kind that looks like a necklace seems right. You’ll probably not always have earbuds in.

Nobody really uses that thing, right?

Just discovered you can actually use it upside down…nevermind

I like those too, I’ve been thinking about getting the Sol Republic Shadow wireless earphones for a while now.

I remember a recent article where The Verge said that kind of design of wireless earphones was awful though. I didn’t really understand why myself.

Just to add (was looking for a photo and edit time ran out) I think they look good.

You have the benefits of wireless earphones but with no connectivity issues and a far bigger battery.

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