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Samsung Gear IconX review: Burning ears

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear IconX 7354
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The Gear IconX is a new breed of Bluetooth wearable that combines two separate earphones which work entirely without wires. It's a product that tries to be a whole lot more than just a pair of earbuds but after spending more than two weeks with them, I've learned that Samsung trimmed away more than just cables with this gadget. Read on for our full Samsung Gear IconX review.

Samsung Gear IconX


  • Attractive design
  • 3.5 GB of storage space for music
  • Includes a heart-rate monitor
  • Compatible with any smartphone


  • Can get hot enough to hurt your ears
  • Short battery life
  • Unstable Software
  • Lacks water-resistance
  • Poor audio quality for music
  • Erratic charging
Samsung Gear IconX
Samsung Gear IconX
Samsung Gear IconX: All deals

Samsung Gear IconX release date and price

The Gear IconX are available now for $199, placing it $100 below The Dash, a similar device from Bragi. They come in three colors: blue, white and black. 

Samsung Gear IconX design and build quality

The Gear IconX have a sophisticated design that's immediately arresting. As soon as you remove them from their box, which also functions as a portable charger, you'll feel that this is a new breed of gadget. 

Each Gear IconX earbud measures 25.9 x 19.5 x 17.9 mm, making them slightly smaller than those of The Dash. Also, the weight of the individual buds is 6 grams – one whole gram lighter than those from Bragi.

Aside from the physical disparities, the IconX and The Dash are similar in design, but this is easily ascribed to the limiting factor that is the near-universal shape of the human ear. Extravagant design and a comfortable fit are rarely compatible in the world of earbuds.

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear IconX 7345
Adjusting to the size of the intra-ear, the Gear IconX can fit perfectly in your ear. / © NextPit

Skirting the headphones is a rubber band or 'wingtip'. In addition to ensuring a secure fit in the ear, these also provide a space to touch the IconX without interacting with its touch-sensitive surface, thus avoiding accidental track skipping.

Each wireless headset has two microphones: one on top and one at the bottom, which deliver a strong audio experience during ongoing calls. On each IconX headphone there are also connectors for charging them, a sensor for heart-rate monitoring, and symbols distinguishing the left and right sides.

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear IconX 7404
Connectors for charging are inside the headphones IconX. / © NextPit

Though they're not exactly fragile, you do need to be quite careful when handling the IconX. They're not fragile, just small. In fact, during these two weeks of testing, I dropped both of them countless times without them suffering any damage.

The headphone case is USB 2.0 compatible, providing access to the IconX's internal storage space (used for storing audio files, more on that later). The case dimensions are 30.3 x 92 x 35.3 mm and it weighs 52 grams, which makes it easy to carry in a purse, backpack or coat pocket.

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear IconX 7401
The case of IconX headphones is small and easy to carry. / © NextPit

On the box's front, Samsung includes the button to open the case and two small LED panels that indicate the battery status of the headphones. In the back of the case, we have the micro-USB slot and another small LED display that indicates the battery level of the case itself.

When I compare Samsung's design with Bragi, there are few differences, but the impression I have is that the South Korean manufacturer has invested more time in polishing the appearance of its product; it's a well put together package.

Samsung Gear IconX special features

What really makes the Gear IconX a wireless headset stand out from thousands of other headphone products are its smart features. With this new Samsung headset, you can listen to music without the need to use any other gadget: not a smartphone, smartwatch, smartband, iPod or an MP3 Player. Better yet, you also receive real-time statistics and updates about your current activity. Let's take a deeper look at these features. 

Integrated MP3 player

The Gear IconX make use of touch-sensitive controls present on both earphones to manipulate their software.

  • Tap once to play or pause a song
  • Slide your finger on the touchpad up or down to control the volume
  • Double tap to switch to the next track or answer/end a call
  • Triple tap to go back to the previous track
  • Tap and hold to hear the settings spoken in English and change the sound environment

The IconX is not only a Bluetooth headset: it also functions as a standalone MP3 player. This wearable contains 4 GB (effective amount: 3.5 GB) of internal storage space which can be used to house MP3s.

There are two ways to transfer MP3s onto the IconX. The first method is to do it via a PC or Mac. When the IconX earbuds are in the charging cradle, this can be connected via USB cable to a computer. The other method is via your smartphone, but not just any smartphone: it has to be a Samsung smartphone with at least Android 4.4 with 1.5 GB of RAM. Anyone who doesn’t own a Samsung smartphone up to snuff will have to rely on the PC or Mac method.

During my tests, I used only the first method and the transfer process was always smooth. I also paired the IconX with my Xperia Z2, which was equally pain-free. 

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear IconX 7388
Headphones, fitness tracker and MP3 player all in one. / © NextPit

Fitness Tracking

As well as music playback, the Gear IconX can also provide real-time statistics on your sports activities with automatic monitoring of your heart rate. This can be used in conjunction with the Samsung Gear app and you don't need a Samsung device to install this.

samsung gear IconX exercises loading problems
Heart beat frequency data is monitored automatically (left); Charging the battery (right). / © NextPit

What most caught my attention with the IconX is the fact that it can measure heart rate automatically even while you're listening to music. When I realized that it had been recording my heart beats without me ever having been aware of it, I was very impressed.

Samsung Gear IconX software

The Gear IconX don't need to be paired with a phone to work but to get the most out of them they can be used in conjunction with the Samsung Gear companion app. 

Sometimes it's difficult to keep the smartphone and headphones connected, especially when the battery is very low but I would say that the feature most lacking in the application is the ability to equalize the audio output. The Gear IconX volume is low compared to more traditional wired or Bluetooth headphones and I would have liked to change the tonality.

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear IconX 7363
The IconX can be paired with smartphones running Android 4.4 or higher. / © NextPit

Samsung Gear IconX performance

The Gear IconX's 47 mAh batteries don't last very long. In some cases, I was only able to use the earphones for about an hour before they needed to be recharged.

What's worse – significantly worse – is the fact that the Gear IconX can become too hot while in your ear, making the gadget almost impossible to use. In this sense, that one-hour battery life can act as an unsophisticated security measure. 

The microphones in the IconX perform well and deliver a good experience for those on the other side of the call. Listening to music is less enjoyable because, as mentioned above, the Gear IconX are quiet and in open environments like parks or on the street, the metallic sound is unclear.

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear IconX 7396
Heat produced by the IconX can cause discomfort. / © NextPit

The Gear IconX are well designed from a structural perspective and include all the features that most wireless headsets have but the overall sound quality and user experience is poor. Keeping them comfortably in the ears becomes increasingly difficult as the temperature increases. I get the feeling that instead of the IconX being a premium headphone product, they're nothing more than an expensive prototype.

Last but not least, the IconX's Bluetooth range is problematic. To give you an idea, my apartment is approximately 60 square meters but I couldn't go from the living room to the bedroom without a connection failure. Using other headsets I can walk around the house without any such problems. 

Samsung Gear IconX audio

As stated above, the performance of the gear IconX in terms of call quality is strong. On the other hand, the audio quality for music isn't great. 

When playing music stored on the IconX, for example, you only receive mono sound. Yes, only one of the headphones will produce audio output under these circumstances. It's only when using combined with a smartphone that both sides operate well.

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear IconX 7354
The IconX have many functions, but pure audio quality isn't one of their strengths. / © NextPit

But even when playing back stereo sound, the quality is quite unimpressive and sounds too tinny. There also isn't a way to balance the bass or treble in the Samsung Gear app.

Samsung Gear IconX battery

In each of the two buds is a 47 mAh battery. Samsung claims a maximum of three hours use. The battery case has a capacity of 315 mAh, which theoretically could charge the IconX up to 100 percent five times over. In day to day use, listening to music during exercises where the health data is collected, battery life usually lasts around three hours.

AndroidPIT Samsung Gear IconX 7375
Charging the headphones is slow. / © NextPit

Furthermore, there is a great tendency for there to be a disparity between the right and left earphone charge levels. On several occasions, the right side charge level was at 100 percent, while the left sat at zero.

The reason seems to be due to moisture; it's important to keep the connectors dry and clean or problems can occur. As a gadget designed for sports, it's disappointing that there isn't some kind of water-resistance, but at least it encourages users to take care of them.

Final verdict

The Gear IconX are earphones that look good and have useful features for sports but crucial details like battery life, water-resistance and overheating have ruined the experience.

After more than two weeks of use, I've realized that the Gear IconX is a good idea that's not worth $200 price tag – even with little direct competition in this market.

If you already use a wearable device, like a smartwatch or smartband, a conventional Bluetooth headset would be a better purchase for your sporting activities. And make no mistake, the Gear IconX is not an alternative to your music headphones: poor audio quality and short battery life guarantee that.

What is your favorite Bluetooth accessory for sports? Let us know in the comments. 

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Camila Rinaldi

Camila Rinaldi
Head of Editorial

With over a decade of experience in tech product reviews, I’ve recently embraced the world of wearables and developed a passion for digital health innovations. While I am now deeply immersed in the Apple ecosystem, my enthusiasm for Android still burns strong. Formerly editor-in-chief at AndroidPIT and Canaltech in Brazil, I now share my insights with the US audience at nextpit. Beyond tech, I cherish my vinyl collection and believe exploring local cuisine is the best way to discover new places. Join me as I explore the fusion of technology and culture in our everyday lives.

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  • 2
    Christo Jan 13, 2017 Link to comment

    Lastly I must commend Samsung on their first attempt. Definitely moving in the right direction. Suppose it's like any other product hiting the market. Takes some time to improve and get it right. Same will iconx.

  • 2
    Christo Jan 13, 2017 Link to comment

    Im a bose fanatic, I have a pair of bose cord earphones, I must be honest, you have to be a music specialist to notice the difference in sound quality. Earphones are'nt 1000 w speakers and one cannot expect that from these or any set for that matter.

    Watter proof earphones. Bragi has these and they can only go 3 feet deep, one dive into pool and they going to the bin. In south_africa they sell at over 5 grand. Not worth it.

  • 2
    Christo Jan 13, 2017 Link to comment

    Hi there. Got mine a day ago. Luv them.
    With regard to one ear "pod" playing music if disconnected from the phone or directly from the iconx- it is important that your music is loaded through the gear application. You cannot load it through your phone "My Files" manually. E. G if you open My Files you will notice two connected USB devices, one for each ear pod. If you save the music file in either but just one of them then only that one will play. You also cannot copy the music file in both otherwise they are not in sync so to say. Tryed it. They or either don't play or you get that problem where one sound louder/softer than the other.

    • 1
      Ximena Lopez Jan 19, 2017 Link to comment

      The same thing happen to me. The left sounds louder than the right.
      How did you fix it?

  • 1
    Amarice Jan 11, 2017 Link to comment

    I don't know if it's relevant or not. I just got Yellow Iconx. I was so excited. My POS phone couldn't download the app and I thought I couldn't pair it with it. Then a few hrs later my phone saw it and I was even happier.
    Now all the garbage. The left one only lasts me about 15-20min. Which is depressing. It is also the last one to charge. It also gets very hot. (Ive contacted samsung today). I put music on em. I have pandora.. doesn't seem to matter. Lefty dies.
    Sound. The sound will only go up X amount. It warns you any more and it's bad. It won't go any more so what's the point in the warning.. When I workout--jog--running, or even general walking..I want my favorite song blasting in my ears. I don't care what samsung thinks. It's my head I can do what I want. My 29$ apple earbuds with the cable sound 110% better than these. After I get ahold of samsung to see what they want to do..if anything..I may just give them away and save my money up for Bragi The Dash.

  • 1
    Paladin44 Oct 27, 2016 Link to comment


    I have had this device now for over a month. Having read a lot of reviews, my expectations were not high but I was open minded. Although I do like the device and use it every day, the reviews did eventually prove consistent with my use. I haven't had the overheating problem but battery life started out at approximately 1hr 40 mins and has degraded further since then. I get no more than 1hr 15 mins at best. So basically not really good for listening to music or watching a movie on my tablet or any general purpose extended use. Range is pretty limited as compared to other blue tooth devices and it does not pair with my Samsung Gear S2 (which you would think it would - which makes them competing and not compatible devises). Unequal or irregular earbud charging issues have been overcome by simply taking the earbuds out of the case, wiping them down and putting them back in the case.

    I do enjoy the freedom the Icon X provides versus other bluetooth devices but there are unfortunate operational limitations that hamper the experience. After buying and using it, I realize I underestimated just how much those limitations would impact my enjoyment and use of this device. I could almost live with the mediocre sound quality and poor battery life at a price tag of $100 or less, but at almost $200 I do have buyer's remorse.

    The Gear IconX definitely addresses a market need, one I have had for some time, which is a truly wireless Bluetooth device. But there are clear issues with this prototype that the next version (if there is one) will likely address. The primary of which is to improve the battery life and charging issues. However, given the battery issues Samsung has had with the Samsung Note 7, I am worried that the next gen Icon X battery will be great but may also set my head on fire (#longerbatterylife=shorterreallife). I expect these and other bugs to be worked out with the next version but strongly suspect that other market alternatives will catch up with Samsung before then. I would recommend sitting this one out and waiting for the next version or a better market alternative.

  • 1
    LZ Storm Oct 21, 2016 Link to comment

    Just got these today, the left ear bud goes green and the left one stays red :( what should I even do

    DARK SLAYER Oct 12, 2016 Link to comment

    so do i buy em or not i yet didnot buy em and i donot want to spend my money on a on nothing so its good or not

  • Alexandre Cavazzani 1
    Alexandre Cavazzani Oct 4, 2016 Link to comment

    They do not heat i my case, but...
    How long is it taking to get fully charged with USB cable?
    Mine are not charging properly- I guess. I charge via USB cable first, then use it for 1,5 hour then have to charge it again: I can use the battery from the case just once before I have to connect it to the USB again... that means, I use the earbuds only 2 times between connecting the case to the USB cable, so I am just thinking that it is losing the battery.

    • Oliver Dibble 1
      Oliver Dibble Dec 9, 2016 Link to comment

      Don't charge with USB it takes twice as long. Just charge straight from mains socket some as charging the phone.

  • Johnny Ortiz 1
    Johnny Ortiz Sep 14, 2016 Link to comment

    Btw they are not mono when you copy music on to them. You have to install the Gear IconX manager and sync the head phones. The music will be copied on both headphones and it works fine.

    The issue I do have that the update was unable to solve was the erratic charging. Sometimes only one bud is green and the other red.

  • 1
    l0gan5 Sep 9, 2016 Link to comment

    Since receiving my set yesterday it has managed to last on a single charge 1 hour 50 minutes before switching off. This is using a Galaxy S7 Edge and streaming Spotify and the volume set to about 60%.

    I've had no problems with drop-out and the audio quality is excellent, especially when listening to music stored directly on it.

    I've found the equaliser in sound settings best left at normal and to not use any other other bass/sound boosting apps - these just made it a lot worse.

  • Jason Bennett 1
    Jason Bennett Sep 9, 2016 Link to comment

    Mine don't heat up but they never stay connected to each other which is obviously annoying. I've updated the software and unpaired Bluetooth and had no luck

    • Johnny Ortiz 1
      Johnny Ortiz Sep 14, 2016 Link to comment

      I had the same issue an realize that the head phones are activate when the sensor is directly on skin. So I adjusted them so the sensor is consistently touching the inside of my ear. Issue resolved.

  • 1
    Sunil Nalge Sep 6, 2016 Link to comment

    My experience is really BAd and worse.

    1. If you take them out and wanted to pair with other phone, its not possible unless you have the little ear bug holder unit. I got out for a walk and figured out that phone doesnt detect at all. I had to come home, put the ear buds in the box once and while removing them out it got detected on phone. If they would have given an option in the hold and press menu ..something like "enable bluetooth pairing" that could have solved the issue.

    2. Transfering songs to its a pain..why do want to connect it to little unit, when you can transfer songs on bluetooth? You could have transferred songs from samsung gear like you transfer photos from your phone to your samsung gear s2 watch..

    3. Windows Gear iconx pc software says "Once side of your Gear IconX is connected. Check the both sides of your Gear IconX is inserted." There is no other option on screen. Both the ear buds are properly inserted and both the led lights glow red. It just doesnt work..

    Could have been more user friendly. This is a consumer product and even a layman should be able to use with no much expertise ..


  • 2
    Ed Rowell Sep 2, 2016 Link to comment

    you used them for 2 weeks and never used the Gear IconX computer software for standalone music?

    "When playing music stored on the IconX, for example, you only receive mono sound. Yes, only one of the headphones will produce audio output under these circumstances. "

    Yes you do get audio output in Both headphones if used properly.
    maybe you needed a little more research while using them.

    Putting music on the headphones storage will get you like 3 hours. Plenty of time for any run or workout.

  • 1
    Dabears Aug 31, 2016 Link to comment

    Sounds like user error. First of all the 1.5 hour battery life is good enough for 1 workout session, unless of course you're a meat head. And second, please make sure you know exactly how use a device first before giving a review. I have had an earin cordless headphone and I thought that was the coolest thing and this icon x just put that device to shame. Maybe restore your pair you bought and keeps it away from heating up. That's just hard to believed why yours heats up that way.

  • 3
    Phillips tripp Aug 30, 2016 Link to comment

    I bought these on launch day as an accessory to my Galaxy Note 7 and have been using them daily. I have never felt any time of burning in my ears. This device is absolutely amazing. the 1.5 to 2.0 hrs of batter life works well for me and I can charge it on the go via my USB charge port in my car just in case. These truly are remarkable I don't agree with this assessment, and recommend to anybody who enjoys the freedom of pure wireless ear buds with Great Quality sound.

    • Johnny Ortiz 1
      Johnny Ortiz Sep 14, 2016 Link to comment

      Phillips I did the same. I bought these headphones as an accessory to my Note 7 which regardless of the recall I love. Did you return yours yet? I turned it off and popped sim in another phone I have but have not returned yet. The exchange policy is just absurd. I know this is conversation for another thread, but I am curious what other users of the Note 7 are doing.

  • Shantoria Johnson 1
    Shantoria Johnson Aug 29, 2016 Link to comment

    Mines don't warm up in the ears neither. I really like what they've come up with. They're perfect if you're only using them for exercising. But not for what I need them for. I wanted them for work. You only get a hour or less talk time and maybe three hours music time. I work ten hours a day. And it wouldn't be so bad if they didn't take hours to recharge. Other this that they're awesome.

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