Audio

Convenient earbuds let down by battery life

The Samsung Gear IconX's two earbuds slot nicely inside the included pill-shaped case that doubles as a charger.
The Samsung Gear IconX's two earbuds slot nicely inside the included pill-shaped case that doubles as a charger. PHOTO: SAMSUNG

Totally wireless, the Samsung Gear IconX feels snug and comfortable during workouts

Samsung Gear IconX is a pair of truly wireless in-ear headphones. There is no cable connecting the right and left earbuds, making it perfect for listening to music during workouts.

The IconX not only streams music from your smartphone, but it also has 4GB (3.5GB usable) of internal storage to store and play your music tracks. In addition, it tracks your workouts and heart rate.

The two earbuds slot nicely inside the included pill-shaped case that doubles as a charger.

There are two LED lights at the front of the case to show the charging level, and one LED light at the rear next to the micro-USB charging port that does the same.

The earbuds have silicone wing tips, available in three sizes, to help you get a more secure fit.

Both earbuds' outer surface is touch-sensitive. You swipe up or down to control volume. One tap plays or pauses the music. Double-tap skips a music track. Tapping it three times moves back a track. Press and hold to start a workout.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $298

    STORAGE: 4GB

    COMPATIBILITY: Android 4.4

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 12g (earbuds only)


    RATING

    FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 3/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 2/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 3/5

    OVERALL: 3/5

However, I found that swiping up or down often did not register with the IconX. Instead, I ended up pausing or stopping the track.

The IconX supports Android only, and I did the review with a Samsung Galaxy S7 edge. I tried pairing it with my iPhone 6s Plus and it didn't work.

You need the Samsung Gear Android app to set up the IconX. It allows you to select which is the main earbud that allows you to control music playback or start workout.

You can also transfer music tracks from your smartphone to IconX using the app. But you need to use an included adapter with a micro-USB cable to do so.

For software updates, you need to install the Samsung Gear IconX Manager software for PC and then connect the IconX to the PC. This felt troublesome, and it really should be done via the app.

Wearing the IconX during workouts is fantastic without a cable irritating you. And during runs and walks, the IconX always felt snug and comfortable.

But in terms of audio performance, the IconX is average at best for a workout headphone. I can't really hear any significant bass. Vocals sounded muffled even when I cranked the volume to maximum.

There is an option to turn on ambient sound in the app, so you can hear what's happening around you via IconX's microphones. But you can actually hear ambient noise simply by reducing the volume level to around 75 per cent.

I found the distance and heart- rate tracking readings to be pretty close to those of my calibrated Samsung Gear Fit2.

The biggest downer for the IconX is its battery life, or rather the lack of it. It lasted only around 45min when streaming music from my phone.

The battery life stretched to around 100min if music is played from IconX's internal storage. Still, this is not good enough for long-distance runners.

• Verdict: The Samsung Gear IconX is a convenient pair of wireless earbuds for workouts that I love to use. Unfortunately, its paltry battery life sets it down a few notches.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Convenient earbuds let down by battery life'. Print Edition | Subscribe