(Pocket-lint) - The truly wireless in-ear market is well and truly upon us, with heaps of options now available: Apple AirPods, Jabra Elite Sport, Bragi Dash Pro, Sol Republic Amps Air, to name but a few.
Samsung also wants a piece of the wire-free pie, with its original Gear IconX launched in 2016 updated in the so-called 2018 version. Boasting improved battery life and added voice control with Bixby and Google Assistant, are they the wireless in-ears to go for?
Samsung Gear IconX 2018 review: Design
- Available in black, grey or pink
- Various wingtip sizes included for ideal fit
- Touch-sensitive controls, Bixby and Google Assistant voice control
- 18.9 x 21.8 x 22.8mm and 8g per earphone
- Charging case included with USB-C recharging
On the face of it the design between one generation IconX and the next hasn't changed: the in-ears come in their own carry/charging case and there are spare wingtip sizes for an ideal fit included in the box.
The 2018 model's charging case is slightly smaller, however, without ditching any of the available on-board battery life - its 340mAh battery should be enough to re-juice these in-ears a number of times.
Despite the entire lack of wires, the IconX 2018 are easy to control via touch-based controls on the in-ears exteriors. And this generation adds in Bixby and Google Assistant smart control so you can just say what you want to see on your synched phone and that's it - job done.
Samsung Gear IconX 2018 review: Features
- 4GB on-board storage for music playback
- Personal Running Coach for in-ear encouragement
- Auto Activity Tracking will record activity (after 10mins)
- Battery: 82mAh per earphone; 340mAh in the charging case
The 'Gear' part of the name shows these in-ears fit in among Samsung's sport product line, along with the Gear Sport smartwatch and other devices, so the voice control can be used to directly view current or previous activities via Samsung Health in easy-to-digest visual form.
The addition of a Personal Running Coach means in-ear voice messages will encourage you, as applicable to your ongoing goal, while Auto Activity Tracking will select the type of sport it believes you're engaged in when recording an activity.
If you like to listen to tunes when you work out then the 4GB of on-board storage is ideal for playing music without the need for a smartphone weighing down your pocket. If you want full sync, with sports tracking, the you'll need a phone synched, however.
The biggest push in the 2018 Gear IconX is the boos to battery life. Samsung claims there's up to five hours of streaming time (seven hours of direct listening), considerably improving on its predecessor. There's also a quick charge feature, to deliver an hour's worth of exercise time after charging the in-ears for a mere 10 minutes.
In a rapidly growing market, the Samsung Gear IconX 2018 don't offer anything particularly special in the wireless in-ear market. Others have voice control, in-ear coach, adjustable fit and battery-laden carry cases. The improvement to battery life in this year's model, if genuine during use, is a notable boost, however, which sees Samsung remain competitive.