At their pre-IFA 2017 press event in Berlin today, along with updates to a variety of other products, Samsung announced updates to their Gear IconX wireless ear buds. Ergonomically, Samsung says the redesigned units are lighter weight and will stay secured in a user’s ears better. More importantly, Samsung has added some software technology and made battery improvements.
When we reviewed the Gear IconX cord-free earbuds last year, one issue we noted was that battery life was downright pathetic. In our tests, low battery warnings started up after only about one hour of use although we could double that by loading music files into the onboard storage and streaming from there rather than via a Bluetooth connection with a smartphone. Samsung says they have improved this so that the updated Gear IconX earbuds can last up to five hours now or even six hours when music is played standalone. This is thanks to a bigger battery clocking in at 82mAh versus the older model’s 47mAh. The charging case also got a bump from 315mAh to 340mAh.
On the software side, Sasmung has built-in support for their Bixby AI assistant technology. One place where this will be noticeable will be in controlling volume or moving through music selections as that can now be accomplished with voice commands. Note that compatibility with Bixby is limited to users who also have a Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ or Galaxy Note8 smartphone. Samsung also includes their Running Coach software, accessible in standalone mode, which can provide exercise status updates with a tap of the earbuds.
The latest version of the Gear IconX will be available in black, white or pink as Samsung drops the blue color of the older model. We are still waiting on word from Samsung on when the new version will be available and whether pricing will change compared to last year’s $200 mark.